Virtual events offer a genuine alternative

Virtual events are a plausible response to the developments and ramifications of the digital transformation, and they will become a boon to the event industry.

Here are some things that technology permits even today: Event attendees no longer have to be present in the same room or building to participate in a given event. No matter where they are located, be it in their offices or homes or somewhere on the road, they can easily attend the event. Recent surveys confirm that the majority of attendees consider the main reason for their attendance of a given event not its location but rather an engaging and suitable agenda of relevant topics. Digital events like video conferences and webinars have already become an integral part of professional life. Even larger events such as conventions and trade fair lend themselves to a virtual format. Lectures and best-practice presentations including questions-and-answers sessions afterwards can be transmitted as live stream via the Internet. Exhibitors and lecturers have the possibility to customise and brand their virtual trade show booths pretty much like their physical equivalents.

Key criteria for any sort of event then as now are the networking and the personal exchanges with lecturers and other attendees. Comparing notes is of particular significance during industry events. But you can have your direct exchange as always by using chat functions, the aforementioned live stream option and live Q&A sessions. And there is an another feature of enormous advantage: All lectures can easily be recorded and made available to attendees after the event. Principally speaking, a virtual event can be prolonged through interaction and be sustained beyond its scheduled end or indeed until the next event. Anyone whose busy schedule kept him from listening live to an interesting talk can view it at a later time. Virtual contact points offer additional details on a given download and may provide videos.

Not to be scoffed at are also the cost savings involved. There are no rents or catering costs to cover. Attendees save on travel expenses and out-of-office times, among other costs. Not least, there is also the environmental aspect. Air travel comes with a larger carbon footprint than any web technology that may be required. Moreover, a virtual event consumes much less paper, because brochures, flyers and other materials are all provided in digital form.

But what are the technical requirements of a virtual event?
To a large extent, planning a virtual event is identical to the planning of traditional events, such as the advertising for the event, the registration for it and the moderation of it. The technological tools vary depending on the size and scope of the event:

  • Details about the event
  • Registration and transaction handling
  • Virtual check-in
  • Chat tools
  • Camera equipment and live stream connectivity
  • Online platform for staging contents
Conclusion: Virtual events are becoming a genuine alternative to live event formats, and will meet with growing acceptance on the attendee side in sync with progressive technological advances and the growing number of relevant products.