Digital Engagement and Business Events
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted how employees communicate, travel, and attend events. The future of events thus depends on the digital engagement platform and their hybrid and virtual options.
In 2020, nearly 70 percent of physical events were switched to hybrid or virtual; in 2022, digital events still remain popular. For instance, in 2022, 40 percent of events are planned to be virtual, 35 percent of events are planned to be hybrid, and 72 percent of professionals plan to attend virtual events at least as often as they previously attended physical events before the pandemic. Audiences have moved to digital platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, where they both have experienced massive growth in meeting minutes and user base.
However, extensive online interaction can bring fatigue and frustration as poorly designed digital platforms create unique challenges. Employees using video conferencing often experience technical issues, poor communication, problems with virtual meetings, or loss of productivity. Moreover, the amount of eye contact and large participant face size during video chat can create a stressful experience due to hypervisibility on screen.
Despite these challenges of interacting digitally, people prefer attending events online. Of the people who attend ten or more events every year, 46 percent attended online events, while 13 percent attended physical ones. Virtual events pose many advantages for businesses and employees alike. As employees don’t need to travel, virtual events save time and reduce travel and commute for 46 percent of companies. By cutting these transportation and travel expenses, virtual events cost significantly less than in-person options. Employees can allocate extra time to other tasks, increasing productivity while maintaining a connection to company culture. With participants less likely to multitask while on video calls than on phone calls, employees can work with improved focus.
Businesses can incorporate the benefits of online meetings and various trends in technology to create more exciting events. Hybrid events separate experiences where two audiences are connected by the content they’re accessing. In fact, 72 percent of attendees believe they will get more value from attending a hybrid event than a physical one. Businesses can differentiate their event from cookie-cutter ones to create the “wow” factor for their audiences.
One might use customized graphics and layout, offer exclusive access to on-demand breakout sessions, create a digital campus, or facilitate networking through polls, chat, and Q&A features. While physical events aren’t going away, businesses can reach new audiences through hybrid and virtual events.