Technology has changed the events industry in many ways. The social distancing measures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend, particularly the adoption of the virtual events space. Unable to hold large-scale events with in-person attendance, many industries turned to virtual forums.
For example, fashion week events were held online, with virtual “models” taking to the catwalks. Musical concerts like the One World: Together At Home event likewise moved solely online. In the business world, industry conferences also shifted to the internet. Salesforce Live held their Sydney conference, meant to be a massive in-person event, online instead.
In the future, it seems that event organizers will continue to embrace virtual spaces as a cost-efficient and productive means of bringing people together. Read on for ideas to develop a great virtual event and a general overview of how technology takes the virtual events industry to the next level.
5 Ways Technology Has Changed Virtual Events
When virtual events first began, it seemed unlikely that they would ever replace in-person meetings. However, the technology supporting virtual interactions has become so advanced, it looks like innovative virtual event ideas are the way of the future. Here are some ways that cutting-edge innovations are redefining events.
1. Greater Personalization With Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) technology is the cornerstone of any virtual event space. VR tech has advanced significantly in the past years, allowing for more life-like presentations of virtual spaces. Some may be entirely imaginary, while others are built to reflect “real world” locations.
Virtual reality goggles, for instance, allow people to feel like they are immersed in a space. Goggles can be paired with other physical elements, like motion sensors, to manufacture an immersive full-body experience. An event attendee doesn’t just stand in the event space. They can move through it. Combined with audio tools, they can even interact with others in the area.
This all adds up to a far more personalized and tangible experience. And the technology is only going to get better. The global VR/AR (virtual reality, augmented reality) market is projected to grow by $125.19 billion by 2024.
2. Greater Flexibility in Event Types
Modern technology now allows for a plethora of virtual event ideas that were simply non-existent in the past. Event organizers can create live polls, craft question-and-answer sessions, promote live chats, and more. There are many ways to encourage engagement and celebrate attentiveness, aiming to get attendees more involved.
For example, take a virtual car show (yes, they exist). This virtual event may feature one main “hall” with premiere events, showcasing multiple vehicles. However, this may be complemented by smaller breakout rooms dedicated to specific topics in the auto industry. This gives attendees a chance to retreat to a smaller space where they can speak up.
Event organizers can determine what types of virtual venues best suit their organizational needs. The AR/VR technology to accommodate diverse event types and forums already exists. Figuring out the best way to harness the power of that technology is all about considering the kind of event.
3. Simplified Customer Care for Attendees
Technology also has allowed for the virtual event space to ramp up its customer service component. In fact, at this point, virtual events can offer more streamlined, efficient, and effective customer care than in-person events. And it’s all thanks to technology.
Take chatbots, for instance. These are quick, automated tools that allow for fast answers to simple questions. There’s no need to send an email or call a number. If a virtual event attendee has a question—for example, about the program—they can ask the chatbot and get the information they need immediately.
Even the logistics of virtual event registration and entry are made more straightforward thanks to technology. Mobile ticketing enhances convenience when signing up and registering for events, for example. Ultimately, the entire process of event attendance is simplified, removing hurdles that might otherwise prevent audience engagement.
4. Increased Integration With Social Media
When an event is already being held virtually, it’s only logical to integrate other virtual forums—like social media. For example, a live question-and-answer can have attendees submit their questions via social media using a hashtag.
Hashtags can also raise awareness about the event and allow attendees to connect on forums distinct from the venue itself. When selecting a hashtag, keep it short, unique, and memorable. To promote it, disseminate it across various social media channels. Further, add it to all virtual event materials (e.g., blog posts, programs, video banners, etc.).
In the past, many people would attend events as a means of networking. Social media can help in this regard, too. People can use the hashtag for advertising their attendance at an event, conversing with others, and making professional contacts. This gives the event a value-add, as attendees get something concrete out of it—an expanded business network.
5. More Opportunities for Post-Production Materials
Monitoring hashtags is also a great way to create post-production materials for an event. Taking snippets of live conversations from public forums like Twitter or LinkedIn demonstrates how engaging a virtual event can be. Compiling key messages can help provide a teaser for a future event.
Virtual events generally allow for more significant opportunities for post-production materials. There’s no need to rely on a professional camera crew or photography team to capture key moments. Virtual events can be quickly recorded live and then edited later before dissemination.
These kinds of post-production materials help to raise any event’s profile, generating buzz for future happenings. This is especially critical when considering the evolving event landscape. As events shift online, they will be more affordable and easier to host. This means more events for audiences to choose from. It’s up to organizers to make sure their events stand out.
Conclusion: Technology and Virtual Event Ideas
COVID-19 took a severe toll on the events industry. However, there is a silver lining. In decimating in-person events, the pandemic showed the promise of virtual event technologies. The above list highlights how tech can support innovative virtual event ideas that captivate and engage audiences from all around the world.