Covid crisis helps fuel rise of virtual format in the Ukrainian events industry
About the author: Hennadiy Netyaha is the founder of EventsWallet

The global pandemic upended many businesses in 2020, and the trillion-dollar global events industry was certainly one of them, with major global tech events like Mobile World Conference canceled as countries across the globe entered lockdown. Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the Covid crisis, the event industry globally and in Ukraine began to evolve and recover during 2021.


Hybrid Future

Since early 2020, virtual and hybrid events have emerged as huge growth areas in the international event industry. The need to maintain social distancing measures has resulted in the adoption of virtual formats as the preferred model across various segments of the event industry such as manufacturing, retail, media and entertainment, education and academia, and healthcare.

At present, the global online event industry is estimated to reach USD 504 billion by 2028 with annual increases of around 24%. This stunning growth forecast tells us that virtual and hybrid events are not only a product of the pandemic, but are here to stay.

Despite this huge forecast growth, in-person offline events are not dead. Most respondents of the 11th annual Global Meetings and Events Forecast by American Express Global

Business Travel reported that in-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81% of events expected to have an in-person element. This means that a hybrid strategy is required for B2B events in 2022 and beyond.

The Ukrainian market is no exception. Top Ukrainian industry events like IT Arena returned to an offline format in 2021 after a quarantine pause with participants offered the option of joining online. Taking this approach will put event organizers in an excellent position to adapt to new challenges as they emerge.

Unfortunately, the promise of online B2B events doesn’t extend to the show industry (B2C). Virtual events cannot provide the audience experience expected by attendees at B2C events. Success in the B2C online event market requires a significant investment in broadcasting infrastructure. Fundamentally, it is extremely difficult to generate the atmosphere and energy expected by attendees of B2C concerts, exhibitions, and parties.


Online Event Organization

Virtual events are much easier to organize than offline events. This means there is much more competition which makes it harder to attract an audience. According to Markletic, when digital marketers were asked how they drive online event registrations, the most popular sources were website (80%), email (76%), and social media (60%).

Maintaining audience engagement throughout a virtual event is a huge challenge. Attendees can be easily distracted by their home environments or other sources of engagement. Popular tools to keep the attention of participants include polling, videos, and short presentations.

Another crucial aspect of retaining audience attention is ensuring that participants have all the necessary functionality. A good option is to employ a specialized tool that automates the majority if not all aspects of the event from registration to networking and holding business negotiations. Over 78% of businesses say that using an online event platform contributes towards a positive ROI.


Fewer Networking Opportunities

Networking is widely recognized as the primary function of most business events. Meeting new prospects and old acquaintances while generating leads is difficult online, but there are options. For example, virtual event platforms like EventsWallet provide users with instant 1-to-1 chat capabilities, online conference rooms, and group chats.

In an exhibition format, it can be difficult for businesses to effectively demonstrate and advertise their products to potential customers and investors online. Event software companies have taken on this challenge by creating virtual conference rooms that allow participants to conduct business negotiations in an environment that closely simulates a real life meeting.

The quality and effectiveness of online events will mean nothing if it is plagued by poor connection. Interruptions to speakers and streaming will damage audience engagement and undermine trust in your brand. Common online event issues include problems with connection, audio, and cameras. Clearly, online and hybrid event organizers need to focus on ensuring that connection and audio quality are excellent.


Meeting Expectations

Back when the pandemic started, a simple Zoom meeting could be classed as an online event and attendees were generally satisfied with this relatively simple format. Since then, however, growing competition among event organizers has led to a dramatic increase in the quality of online events. Attendees now demand high-quality online event spaces including a good connection and quality cameras and mics.

Any company wishing to succeed in the events space in the coming years needs to have virtual and hybrid events in their arsenal. Based on the past couple of years, we have learned that flexibility is critical. The only way to navigate the events market in such an uncertain environment is to tailor your offering according to any external changes while remaining goal-oriented.

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