Despite tremendous opportunity, Virtual events, have likely conjured up frightening thoughts for some meeting planners.
I have enjoyed watching innovation in the events industry for over 20 years. When I started, events were simple; book a meeting, AV equipment, lav mics, projectors, nothing too complicated. I remember slide projectors with wired pickles and overheads with lcd panels on them, the excitement killed me when I found out you could use an overhead as a data projector.
Later in the decade, if you wanted to enhance the event you would add projection mapping, video wall or a webcast/video conference, as it was called, before virtual events. Used to be as simple as sending out a link to online audiences to view the broadcast and interact via chat or private Q&A. Any remote presenters would come in via Polycom or Tandberg devices. Some ISDN/IP magic was involved to make it all seamless, but it was done with relative ease, nevertheless. Perhaps recording the event and make it available on-demand after, that would have been considered a bit more technically complex event. Over the years we have not just seen innovation in AV/IT, but everything from food delivery, room design, furniture, planning, etc. The goal has been to make event planners look great, while dealing with less stress. In the Virtual Event world, planners are faced with exponentially more stress, and the incorrect perception that their job has become easier.
While we are close to getting back to irreplaceable in-person experiences soon, there are some clear benefits of virtual events. As investment continues in various platforms and technology, the experience will only continue to improve. The number of platforms that sprung up in the last few quarters is phenomenal, everyone and their uncle is getting into the business, no doubt it is a huge pie and everyone wants a piece of it, 404 billion forecasted by 2027. Mind boggling numbers when compared to the traditional events market. This is likely fueled by the WFH (work from home) policies implemented by many organizations as the linked article points out.
Shameless plug, we also have our own no-frills, virtual events portal that gets the job done. A natural evolution for us as technically speaking we have been running portals for 10+ years so this nothing new. Although, the language has changed, as well as more advanced new tools have become available, such as HTML5, HLS streaming (Adobe Flash streaming anyone. Long story short, while competitors might have little virtual people walking about a virtual conference hall, I believe in the KISS rule. The more complex things are, the more chances are of something going sideways quickly, and who wants that in a virtual event. Personally, I find it as gimmicky as 3D movies were all the rage a few years ago. Some may say VR is the next big thing, well sure, for gaming no doubt, for an AGM however, you would be hard pressed to find a CEO willing to strap on a VR headset to present to their investors.
So where does this leave you, as a client or a planner? No doubt options are endless, chat, polls, gamification, virtual lobbies, 3d booths, monetization, the list goes on and on.
Thankfully, we are in a digital age where everything can be ‘Googled’. While it is an indispensable tool for everyday general research, nothing beats a conversation with someone who has been in the industry for decades and has seen it all so to speak.
If you’re looking for an educational chat on all things virtual or just want to say hello, do not hesitate to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or via video at https://www.calendar.com/smpav/
A good old fashioned phone call works great as well 416-366-4228 x250.
Looking forward to connecting!
Written by Edward Vastag, Director of Technology at Vantage Venues