Virtual events were already making a splash when they got a big popularity boost from the logistical realities created by the pandemic. While those circumstances were in many ways less than ideal, they have resulted in a real–and permanent–shift that makes it clear that virtual events are here to stay.
To understand what’s driving this popularity and how companies can design their events for maximum success, Kaltura recently surveyed over 1250 event organizers and attendees. The results of this survey are presented in our latest report, The State of Virtual Events 2022, which paints a detailed picture of what events look like now—and where they’re going in the future.
The report highlights six key takeaways, including;
- Virtual events are growing in number
- Virtual events are more than a pandemic pivot; attendees enjoy them
- Virtual events have different benefits for organizers than in-person events
- Attendees prioritize different activities at virtual events vs. in-person events
- Expert Q&As and demos are the most anticipated session types
- Networking is always a part of the event puzzle, whether virtual or in-person
The data behind these takeaways tells a clear story, which can help organizations that aren’t yet producing virtual events win over stakeholders to the concept. For companies that are already producing virtual events, the report lays out data that can help them develop an actionable roadmap for 2022 and beyond.
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Attendees like virtual events and want more
With 93% of respondents reporting that they feel companies have done a good job with the shift to virtual and 73% saying they were happy with their virtual event experiences, it’s no surprise that 84% of the respondents said they want the option to attend events virtually going forward, even after the pandemic ends.
This likely heralds an ongoing increase in both virtual and hybrid events. The ease and opportunity of attending an event from anywhere in the world is just one reason that those who have already attended virtual events are ready for more.
And while this shift towards the virtual may have been accelerated by the pandemic, the reasons for its staying power go way beyond the enthusiasm built up during this challenging period.
Event organizers are seeing increased ROI from virtual and hybrid events
Organizers reported seeing increased ROI from virtual and hybrid events. This has generally come in the form of increased engagement from attendees and more detailed participation data about them. Both of these can, of course, be translated into better sales, marketing, and customer relationship opportunities for conference organizers. And these are only some of the reasons that 90% of these event organizers believe that all large-scale events will be hybrid or virtual by 2023.
For companies that haven’t gone virtual yet, The State of Virtual Events 2022 makes a strong case that it’s time to start preparing for a future that is already here. But it’s important to remember that virtual events aren’t just an online version of a traditional event. Rather, attendees have different expectations and goals when attending virtual events.
Virtual events require a different approach
Virtual event attendees report prioritizing learning opportunities over socializing and networking, which are generally big draws for in-person events. However, this doesn’t mean that networking should be overlooked in virtual events. Whether they’ll have the ability to make connections is one of the biggest concerns virtual event attendees have.
Organizations that can clearly communicate how they’re addressing this in the virtual format are likely to boost their registration numbers. Luckily for event planners, the attendees surveyed in the report also had answers about how they’d like to connect with others, engage in networking, and participate in social opportunities at virtual events.
About the data
The State of Virtual Events 2022 gathered its results by interviewing two different groups of people via a Q3 2021 survey. One group was made up of 250 respondents who were marketing and events leaders involved in organizing at least one large-scale event in the last 18 months. The other group surveyed were 1,000 attendees of virtual events in the U.S. and U.K. Combined, the answers received from these two groups paint a clear picture of virtual event expectations and how companies can meet them.
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