As we finish the first quarter of 2021, the virtual event technology landscape is as exciting and changing as ever. As organisations mature in their ability to deploy virtual events to hit strategic marketing goals, everyone has an eye on the future, where the cautious, gradual reopening of live events will throw a spotlight on the potential of hybrid events.
What we are expecting to see is hybrid events that initially act at a “virtual track” accompanying the return of in-person events. These will have an important part to play in a time when, though events are starting to reappear, there may still be a reluctance on the part of businesses to send delegates travelling around the world. Hybrid events will enable organisers and brands to continue reaching their audiences via event-format marketing – with all the engagement and awareness benefits that we know this brings – while moving forward with plans to return to in-person events.
Beyond that, hybrid events will start to get really interesting when organisers begin to capitalise on the opportunities for bringing online and in-person audiences together in innovative and creative ways. Virtual panellists appearing alongside live guest for discussions where the criteria is who the audience wants to see – rather than who is available to attend. Games and competitions pitting digital avatars against live participants. The ability for avatars to turn up on-stage during keynotes or press conferences – all of this and lots more will be possible when then technology of virtual events is fully integrated with the occasion and spectacle of live events.
It may seem far-fetched now, but Microsoft’s recent announcement of its Mesh mixed-reality platform that lets attendees meet and mingle in 3D environments built from both computer generated and real-world images shows this sort of experience is closer to reality than we might think.
Also, firmly on our radar this month are virtual exhibits. Increasingly, businesses are experimenting with new channels of communication that straddle the gap between full platform-based events and timed website-led experiences. Virtual exhibits and booths are concepts that are quickly growing in popularity. They offer a persistent online environment where customers, fans and influencers can touch base with their favourite brands, through targeted content delivery as well as two-way video, voice or text chat. The real value that they offer businesses is a more direct and always-on channel of communication with their most invested and engaged audiences. We’ve spent February working on some very exciting deployments in this field for our customers, new and old, and it’s a service we know will be increasingly popular throughout 2021.
Finally, we are celebrating success this month after completing something that just a few months ago we would have considered a “mission: Impossible”! A tech client in the field of AI and automation came to us for help with creating and managing their annual summit event. A great client to work with and a fantastic project, but nothing too new.
The challenge was the timeframe – this client, having been let down by a previous partner, wanted their event to go live in seven days’ time!
No task is too big for the Buzznation team, though, and we got to work immediately. Working with the client we settled on Airmeet for the platform. Airmeet is a very flexible and feature-rich environment that perfectly fitted with the client’s expectations for the event. The ease with which it can be configured and customised by our operations team meant we were able to hit the deadline. The event was a fantastic success and over 400 attendees were able to attend, taking in six sessions and over 20 speakers and panellists.
We’re working on putting together a detailed case study and retrospective of the virtual event process, so stay tuned to find out about everything we learned during the project and how it can be put to use to streamline future projects.
Buzznation has developed virtual and hybrid event strategies for businesses from start-ups to global enterprise-scale organisations. To find out how we can help you with event strategy, virtual events and event technology, contact us today.