Despite the huge market and opportunities, virtual event technologies have so far been only moderately successful. First virtual events were conceived as mere listings and directories, as static websites, with no real “virtual event” experience.
After some time, virtual events evolved into webinars, which give people the possibility to attend conferences from anywhere in the world and listen to big keynotes speaking without the need to travel to reach a venue. Although webinars have changed the conference market, as well as the learning and education industry, they exclusively enhanced one-to-many interaction fostering the “lecture” pattern, with almost no peer-to-peer interaction. To alleviate that, more advanced technologies have started including real-time interaction features, yet mostly in the form of a written chat function. In these cases, a fixed and static technology still significantly affects and shapes the way relationships generate and develop. Moreover, first-generation virtual event technologies were unable to give people the opportunity to convey the proper look and feel to the goods and products that exhibitors wanted to display. This is because technologies were unable to give users a high-quality visual experience. These, among others, are the main reasons why virtual events did not gain momentum in the past and were not considered an effective communication and marketing tool.
Now the digital age has brought about a new major transformation. Engagement is the new driving force and virtual events are increasingly gaining new momentum, as people see them as a great opportunity to attract new prospects and customers. Customer behavior has changed; users are now in search of something more than a static and controlled experience. People have less and less time, and they want to focus on what matters to them. No one-size-fits-all solution can work any longer and virtual events seem to be the perfect solution to meet these new demands.
Many companies, agencies and entities are realizing the power of virtual events and are increasingly turning to new technologies to meet these needs. However, the technology you choose significantly affect the outcome of your event, as well as the experience that you provide to your prospects, customers or partners, eventually determining the effectiveness of your action.
Engagement and interaction is the driver of our economy and people now are aware of that, as it clearly emerges by looking at the amount of money spent on meetings and events in the US.
Being at the forefront means to find a way to keep up with the changing customer behavior to give them what they want. People want the tools to freely decide what to do. They now want to be empowered through technology and each wants a unique and personalized experience. People now want to be part of something, they want to create communities of like-minded individuals and see what the other members of their community are doing. They increasingly want to meet and engage with peers and want many-to-many interaction. And they want to do that online. Why?
As pointed out in The New York Times: “Virtual events have yet to replace the staple conferences and trade shows, but they are increasing in popularity. A recent report from Market Research Media found that physical attendance has “long been recession-prone, pandemic-flu-prone and terror attack-prone” in addition to be a nightmare for all companies and corporations.
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