16 April 2020

Could Covid-19 Circumstances Create a New Normal in the Events Sector?

By Paige Jones

Computer screen using Zoom meeting

With the current pandemic and restrictions on our movements being implemented, physical events all around the world are being cancelled. In their place, we are seeing webinars, online conferences and virtual trade shows as a way of bringing industry communities together and offering learning opportunities. Is this pathing the way for a more permanent change, whereby events will remain virtual beyond the pandemic?

Virtual events have lots of their own benefits and as we are currently in a position where we need to think creatively in order to keep the events industry running, they are becoming vastly popular.

Virtual events are hugely cheaper to run as you do not have the costs associated with a venue and catering. This may allow for you to invest in other areas such as marketing your event to new audiences that you’d like to target.

There are no travel costs associated with virtual events, which could result in a higher number of attendees, as well as opening up more opportunity for attendees who are further afield and even overseas that would not normally be able to travel to your physical event. There is also an environmental benefit in that people will not be using transport to get to the event.

Virtual events take up less time both for you as the organiser and your attendees. A half day physical event would normally take up a whole business day when factoring in time for travel, setting up etc. With a half day virtual event, attendees can join in and then carry on with the rest of their day either side. You will also save time on not needing to worry about setting up a venue for the event, transporting stands and printed literature etc.

Whilst going virtual is a huge opportunity to reengineer what we thought was the best way of doing things, it will of course have its own challenges.

The key challenge is the lack of being ‘face to face’, which at an event is an invaluable way for attendees to meet other people from your industry and network. However, you can still host a virtual chat and there is a greater opportunity to take note of names, organisations, job titles etc during a virtual event, which then means attendees can have further contact through networks such as LinkedIn.

You’ll also have to think about which platform you can confidently use to portray your organisation and your event in the best way possible. Some platforms can be expensive, although it is likely this cost will be negligible in comparison to the costs of running a physical event. There are lots of options to research and it would seem at the moment that new platforms are coming to market weekly. Think about what you need the platform to offer or provide, as this will give you a wish list when researching what is available.

It is also more likely for your attendees to be distracted when they are joining your event through their laptop/computer. They will likely have other things going on in the background which will mean their attention is not fully being placed onto your event. This is not something that is really contended with at a physical event.

For some, virtual events may just be an opportunity to keep the event fresh in their audience’s mind, almost seen as a stop gap between the date of the event that has been cancelled/postponed and the new date. You could even use it as a chance to get some questions in and engagement from your audience around specific topics they are interested in hearing more about when you are able to run your physical event.

Whilst this situation is something we couldn’t have predicted and one which has had a huge impact in the events sector, there are still lots of opportunities for events to be successful if made virtual. There will always be a place for physical events as the importance of face to face is invaluable, however the temporary transfer to online may help you to shape your future events programme to include more virtual events with a larger reach and lower costs.

If you have any questions about how to promote your event, online or physical, please get in touch with MCM Net on 01732 368120 or contact us here.

Back to blogs

More from our blog Inside the industry and our agency