In the last year so much of our lives beyond business have undergone digital transformation – schools and organizations, family celebrations, concerts and more – absolutely every type of event we participate in. Even mundane parts of our everyday lives that we never expected to become digital, have. With this, behaviors have changed, as have our expectations and preferences of how we experience interactions, exchanges, and events.
As businesses look to stay competitive and to connect and communicate with our audiences, new strategies, mediums and channels are imperative to not only be used in extenuating times, but to integrate and scale for the future. At the forefront of this are virtual events and the solutions that power them. But it's more than just the technology, it’s the opportunity to globalize and scale events unlike ever before. In my time in the event industry there has never been a time of such change and with it, excitement.
A new era
Even as we return to in-person gatherings, events are forever changed. We’ve gotten a taste of the opportunity to unite people around the world with ease, without limitations of geography or scheduling. Events that were previously 1,000 people are now becoming 10,000. And events that weren’t even able to exist due to varying limitations, are now thriving not only because they are more cost effective, but logistically simpler. The increased value of events now is their ability to easily scale both in size and frequency.
Events wherever you are
We are entering a new era in which events will no longer be defined by the channel, location or medium in which they exist, they will automatically be expected to be fully integrated and accessible. Can you remember a time when you couldn’t watch your favorite sports team because you didn’t have the budget to purchase a ticket or the time to travel to the city to where they were playing? Probably not, because in that scenario you would just watch it by streaming it on one of your many digital devices. But what if the only way to view it was by attending in person? It’s almost unthinkable.
Most of us have lived in a time where the teams we cheer have always been able to be viewed remotely on television, and more recently, our phones or any other digital device nearby. Today, where you watch is often arbitrary. The channel could be a venue or a digital medium – but almost always, you have the option to choose.
As events continue to transform, the expectation will be the same for business events of all types - from trade shows and conferences to product launches and trainings. That you will always be able to join in one of two places: the venue itself, or the virtual platform where it is streaming from. Both will have attendees and while each will have varying experiences, the result will be the same. They will each provide you with the ability to network and engage with other attendees, listen to speakers and most importantly - have a memorable and unique experience.
Experiences built by data
In-person events have notoriously had huge data gaps, and with it they continued year after year to attract the wrong audiences - from individuals without buying power to those just aiming for an all-expenses paid trip out of town. But remote events are providing a more detailed understanding of attendees. They will accurately help leaders qualify individuals, taking into account micro-engagements beginning with attendance at virtual events through the entirety of their digital journey with the brand. This information will change the way attendees are communicated with, further driving personalization and ultimately increasing the value of every event, for attendees and hosts alike.
Scaling event frequency
Traditionally many of the world’s largest events have only been held once per year. But only having annual events diminishes new opportunities and the ability to better engage and nurture key individuals. Just as most types of content have become episodic and often series based, so too will events - in their own way. Beyond scaling in size, events will scale in frequency as remote events will be held more regularly. This means marquee events will no longer be siloed. Virtual events will provide support with regularity and consistency as they become a pipeline for physical events – driving relevant audiences to them and providing unique experiences. With this increased opportunity to scale, individual divisional events with engaged audiences will have the opportunity to become niche, full scale global events.
Boundaries that once limited guests and speakers to some of the world’s largest events, have been reduced, if not eliminated. Meaning the accessibility to any expert or thought leader has been leveled. New innovations and technological advances will continue to create opportunities to differentiate interactive communication such as AI-powered networking, parallel sessions and more. In short - you are able to tailor your events, to your customized needs.
As all of these changes lead to a significant increase in the number of events happening, it will become extremely important to create unique experiences that are not just run of the mill, and are truly unlike any other. Otherwise, you will get lost in a sea of events that both look and feel exactly the same.
Steve Jobs once said that he reinvented the phone to completely change your expectations. Events right now are being reinvented. So, as you plan your next event it’s important to ask yourself - how will you make it memorable, how will you differentiate it, and how will you change expectations?
If you've stayed with me this far, thank you.
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