Virtual Event Trends in 2022

May 02, 2022 | Consumer Goods

We live in a digital world. As technology develops, businesses are jumping on to digital trends and leveraging their benefits. Virtual events, in particular, are growing in prevalence. Initially popularized by COVID-19 and the physical limitations they introduced; virtual events are here to stay.

COVID 19 Impact on a Virtual Event

While virtual events were already growing pre-pandemic, they went mainstream as COVID-19 spread worldwide, during which time employees and group members experienced restricted movement.

As people grew accustomed to working online, virtual events became second nature. Meetings, exhibitions, and seminars were all optimized for a virtual format.

Even though businesses have largely settled back to normal, the growth of virtual events doesn’t appear to be slowing down. In fact, the global virtual events market size is expected to be valued at $774 billion by 2030.

Businesses can expect a rise in hybrid event formats that combine in-person and virtual options. For example, more than 65% of event professionals in the UAE are already planning to use hybrid formats as their go-to option.

Virtual Trends: What to Expect

With virtual events here to stay, at least in a hybrid format, what can we expect as the year unfolds?

Engaging Through the Metaverse

The metaverse has already shown its impact on various industries, such as the consumer goods businesses, so it should be no surprise that it also affects virtual events. Hosting events in the metaverse will offer an immersive online experience, replacing the need to hire an expensive venue.

These events are already happening around the world, such as the World Live Streamers Conference, which will be attended by 30,000 participants. Another is the World Metaverse Conference which will be hosted in Dubai, exploring the power of the metaverse.

Asynchrony Replaces Traditional Communication

As remote work has increased, so have flexibility and autonomy. Virtual events follow the same path, providing asynchronous features to offer a customized experience. With these features, peers can interact on virtual platforms at their convenience. In turn, virtual event attendees can access announcements and sessions whenever suits them.

Connection, Authenticity and Data

Virtual events provide the opportunity to connect with your audience and then analyze the results for future improvement. Digital tools have the power to collect and collate key data that can be used to enhance the virtual space moving forward, further impacting the working culture and nature of networking.

Gathering data is an important part of all events, including virtual events. The format and admission process for virtual events provides a concrete way to gather key data and insights, including the details of participants, their feedback and responses.

Extensive Reach and Inclusivity

Technological advancements improve the opportunities provided by virtual events. What started off as communication tools, such as video calling apps, have developed into platforms for larger events. Extensive reach and enhanced inclusivity are two advantages that have emerged, and continue to play a role in virtual events.

By moving an event online, organizers can reach a wider audience and make the event available to people without geographical restrictions. Virtual events have enabled people from all corners of the world to join events, bypassing logistical and personal restrictions.

Saving Cost and Time

One of the major advantages of virtual events is the opportunity to save costs and time. Virtual events are approximately 75% less expensive than live events, cutting back on venue hire, staff, travel, and marketing costs.

Time demanded by logistics is also reduced, with fewer moving parts. Some may argue that the largest responsibility is deciding on a virtual event platform and speakers.

Event Flexibility

The nature of in-person events is largely dictated by the physical meeting space, while virtual events allow organizers to host multiple event spaces at different times. Virtual event platforms are becoming more advanced, allowing organizers to improve accessibility and interaction.

One example is the different language options available on virtual event platforms, broadening the net of who can participate and benefit.

Overcoming Isolation

During the pandemic, virtual events provided a way to interact with people outside of the limitations of social distancing. Since restrictions have loosened, virtual events can have the opposite effect, disrupting connectivity.

Organizers of virtual events need to consider the risk of isolation and reduced connectivity during an online event. Luckily, there are various ways to boost interaction, including polls, Q&As, introducing asynchronous interaction opportunities, breakout sessions, and moderating each session.

Growing Community Outside of Live Events

As organizations continue to host virtual events, there is a growing trend of communities building and engaging outside of these events. As a result, virtual events contribute to the growth of engaged communities and year-round engagement.

Some organizations are pursuing virtual events with the sole intention of growing communities. For example, Live from Dubai was launched during lockdown to provide live entertainment, stream home workouts and boost solidarity.

As another example, social activism groups are being fueled by virtual event technology, helping to broaden the reach and build communities with shared values.

Predicted Growth of Virtual Events

It’s predicted that the continued acceleration of technology, in the form of machine learning and artificial intelligence, will contribute to more sophisticated algorithms and be a game-changer in virtual events.

Hybrid events, the blending of live and virtual events in a post-pandemic world, are expected to be the norm moving forward. Experts suggest that virtual and hybrid events are not a pivot away from traditional events but rather the unlocking of new and exciting possibilities.

As businesses and organizations continue to tap into virtual events and increase the use of various technologies, the global virtual events market size is expected to grow.

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