Woman in white top attending a video conference from home with 2 screens

A dynamic mix virtual, in-person and hybrid events

More and more people are accustomed to attending events and webinars online

A recent Report published by Frost & Sullivan, commissioned by @Zoom summarised that the sudden onset of travel restrictions and office closures in 2020 compelled organisations to find ways to reach their audiences with engaging, informative content. An already fast-growing virtual events market exploded during COVID-related shutdowns. 

As a lot of people are now used to 'Remote Working' they are also being more accustomed to attending events and webinars online also, in fact there are many Network Events that have actually been expanded during the Pandemic as they have been able to attract people who would have not normally travelled to far to an 'in-person' event. During the pandemic, remote work and social distancing norms drove millions of businesses to cancel their brick-and-mortar events and shift to webinars and virtual events as an alternative to connect with distributed audiences.

Speaking with Jacqui Frampton of The Boardroom Network she found that when Covid hit they, very quickly, had to cancel 50% of their venue bookings and then soon after found themselves cancelling the rest. This then brought about a huge challenge of filling the void and the business, her approach however, was a more considered one as TBN had a particular flavour in terms of the membership and the atmosphere of their meetings so the need to create something online that would retain as much of that camaraderie was a key factor. Fortunately, that time taken to create a new online presence has paid of and with a line up of key meeting hosts like Sam Dyer,  Jules Whale, Aaron Whiffin, Lee Thomas & Bertie Coy the group has risen to the occasion and this regular event (every 2 weeks) has ensured attendance levels regularly over 80 people. 

Jacqui like many others are now having to see how to balance bringing back physical events and ensuring they stay at an affordable price point that keeps the online engaged as well as satisfying the need of many members to 'get back in the room' - we all watch with interest and eager anticipation.

For member organisations like the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Hampshire Chamber of Commerce there also had to be a rapid move to a technology solution in order to maintain the support and engagement that they are renowned for with their respective members.

Returning to the Report 'The future of events is blended—a world in which offline and online events will coexist. Virtual events are becoming more life-like to resemble their offline counterparts and in-person events are increasingly building digital experiences'.  'There will be a permanent shift in the ratio between in-person and online events. By 2025, the number of virtual/hybrid events will grow 11x to 52% of all physical and online events hosted, up from less than 5% pre-COVID'.

'Representing a highly fragmented space, webinars and virtual events are ripe for market consolidation and technology unification. Customers are increasingly demanding a unified end-to-end platform that meets the full spectrum of needs from online meetings to events of all sizes spanning in-person, virtual and hybrid experiences. A single platform that integrates onsite and offsite tools allows customers to realise the full potential of hybrid events including the ability to centralise audience analytics'.

For this all to happen we will need platforms that are able to support this approach and for many that will be 'Zoom' which has had a meteoric rise in usage since 2020 and Covid! The adoption of technology to enable remote working and attendance at many of these events has now firmly established itself and so it is as businesses continue to evolve they need to assess and decide which of these technologies will suit them and their Workspace best. In particular when looking at an Audio Visual Solution for the boardroom or meeting space careful consideration is required not only for the system to be installed but also how do they ensure that it is delivering the right ROI for their business. 

So in looking for the right solution it is always best to get the your IT or Technical Managers involved early together with Facilities Management especially if the decision is to who's budget this being attributed to and then talk to a company that can deliver not only the physical products but one that has the qualification like CTS-D from Avixa to design the correct infrastructure for the project. Especially if you need to have a system that has to incorporate the Virtual with the physical this is a crucial requirement. With that in place you can then ensure that your Events 'big or small' match up to your goals and attendees expectations.