The rise in virtual events may be commonly associated with the coronavirus pandemic, but the reality is that the pandemic simply expedited the growth of an industry that was already expanding rapidly. 

The global virtual events market size was valued at USD 94.04 billion in 2020, and it isn’t stopping there. The market is expected to continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.7% from 2021 to 2028. 

Don’t expect virtual events to go away anytime soon, because the truth is that virtual events are here to stay. Here’s why virtual events will continue to flourish.

Shift in Attendee Preferences

The employment landscape has shifted over the past two years due to the covid-19 pandemic, and these changes will have lasting effects. While people may still be willing to travel for in-person leisurely events or retreats, getting everyone in one conference center for B2B events will pose a larger challenge.   

That is because professionals are no longer congregated in central hubs like Silicon Valley. They are scattered around the country in spare bedrooms that have been transformed into home offices. Many of these professionals do not want to return to pre-pandemic practices like traveling all over the country for conferences, trainings, or meetings. They want to be home with their families and maintain a stronger work-life balance.

Virtual events allow attendees to participate in an environment that they feel comfortable in. This is important for all attendees, including those with disabilities who may face accessibility challenges with travel or in-person attendance. In a poll conducted by Social27, 49% of respondents cited accessibility as their top reason for joining virtual events, and 22% cited a more comfortable working environment as their primary reason for attending a virtual event. 

Your event audiences’ preferences are changing, so your event strategy needs to change too.

Strategic Decisions Are Driven by Data 

Business leaders want to see data to support the strategic choices and financial investments made by their companies. For event organizers and marketing professionals, virtual events provide an ideal opportunity to show key insights and rich data to support the success of their event activations.

When you host an in-person event, you have registration numbers to support attendance goals and metrics. When you host a virtual event, you have robust data insights on the number of attendee interactions, sponsor visits, content clicks, lead generation forms filled out, live session views, and more. 

With this data sponsors and organizers can leverage stronger lead generation and content strategies. Marketing and Events staff can also provide detailed reporting to demonstrate the success of the event according to their set KPIs and leverage detailed insights to adjust their event strategy for the next event for continuous improvement.

Corporate Sustainability Initiatives

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 79% of companies have made a sustainability pledge or are currently working towards one. How do these businesses plan to improve sustainability? By reducing travel!  

In the same Deloitte survey, about half of respondents reported that they plan to optimize their business travel to decrease their environmental impact. To reduce business travel and trip frequency, these businesses plan to shift internal meetings online, limit international travel, restrict travel frequency for employees, and look for alternatives to flying such as more sustainable methods of travel or virtual attendance in place of flying to in-person activities. 

With businesses looking to limit air travel, in-person only events may see reduced attendance. However, those leveraging a virtual or hybrid event strategy may see increased attendance and reach.

Cost Savings

Virtual events are typically more cost effective for everyone involved – event organizers, attendees, and sponsors.

In-person events require a large investment for event owners. Between renting out a venue, staffing, catering, lighting and audio equipment rentals, and more, the costs add up quickly. Virtual events can be a more cost-effective option for reaching your audience and achieving your event objectives.

For B2B attendees, the cost of attendance for in-person events is a driving factor in the industry’s struggle to rebound post-covid. About 60% of corporate travel managers surveyed reported that they expect to spend less on attending trade shows and conferences in 2022 compared to 2019.  

Flights, hotels, registration fees, and other travel costs required to attend in-person conferences and events can add up. On the other hand, sending employees to a virtual event typically requires only a small investment – a registration fee. 

You want as many members of your target audience to attend your event as possible, and virtual events allow you to achieve that goal. Without venue capacity limits, travel, or scheduling conflicts (because those with conflicts can always catch up on content they miss through on demand viewing), you can achieve a higher reach than you would with in-person events.

Increased Confidence in Virtual Event Technology

Deloitte found that many business owners now believe that a lot of business objectives that previously required travel can be achieved through technology. Businesses were forced to find solutions during the pandemic, but many of them have found that they can achieve equivalent or larger degrees of success with virtual solutions: 

“One of the great things to come out of this year is the realization that going virtual reaches a ton more people and costs less. So, no matter what kind of event you design, if you boil it down, you basically want to have a meaningful engaging experience with as many people as possible. Whatever the model is, virtual or hybrid, you’re always going to be more successful than just an isolated in-person event.” – Kari Finn, SugarCRM Corporate Marketing Consultant on the success of SugarCRM’s first event held on Social27 Virtual Event Platform

This increase in confidence is allowing virtual events to be viewed as a preferable option rather than a backup plan to in-person events.

Virtual Events Provide Personalized Experiences

Consumers are used to personalized platforms and experiences. From the TikTok “For You Page” that is curated based on each user’s viewing behavior to customized suggestions on Netflix, users are already accustomed to being presented with suggestions based on their interests, activity, and preferences. Virtual events bring this concept into the event space.

Social27 Recommendation & Prediction Engine provides relevant recommendations to attendees to create a personalized event experience. Attendees will see the most relevant content, connections, and sponsors first, so their unique event experience meets their unique needs and interests. 

Host A Virtual Event With Social27 Virtual Event Platform   

If you haven’t started integrating virtual events into your overall event strategy it’s time to get started! Social27 Virtual Event Platform can help you build events that will help you expand your reach, lower your costs, reduce your environmental impact, and keep your attendees happy. 

Set up a demo today to see how you can harness the power of virtual events with Social27 Virtual Event Platform.