The event industry is a brilliant example of adaptability in adverse circumstances. While most enterprises embraced remote working and grew exponentially, others were wiped out from the competition altogether. With live events on halt and social distancing in place, digitisation of the industry has breathed new life into the financially crippling event sector.
A report by Grand View Research revealed that the virtual event business is forecasted to grow annually at 23.7% from 2021. With high vaccine hesitancy and recurring COVID-19 waves, the chances of live events making a comeback any time soon sound preposterous.
However, to capture their markets again, most brands have resorted to hybrid events ensuring higher attendee satisfaction. Here, video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Teams and Meet might have reduced user hesitancy with virtual events, but a wholesale adoption of virtual platforms still seems a distant reality.
Today, the UK’s IT sector is divulging into EMAAS or Event Management as a Service as another profit-sharing model.
Growth of the UK’s Virtual Event Industry
Meetings and events in the UK have conventionally relied on in-person attendees to measure its success. However, the post-pandemic UK has focused on the rampant spread of virtual services as a driving factor for successful consumer communication. The ICT sector has embraced its virtual makeover and is putting a bet on cloud-hosted conferencing solutions.
London-based Hopin is one such platform with customised products for IT firms to host virtual functions. With six employees in pre-pandemic times, Hopin today houses more than 800 reps. The platform is cloud-based and supports businesses in event hosting, ticket sales and attendee management. It offers Expo area and Reception features – and its customers include NATO, UN and Unilever. Moreover, Hopin allows users to exchange business cards, build long-term partnerships and get connection data after event closure.
The digital ecosystem has surpassed geographical barriers and is moving towards a virtual global order with the constant exchange of ideas, culture and thoughts. This allows organisers to upgrade their existing technology to accommodate wider audiences that were impossible to target in a physical setting.
Social27 is another virtual event platform supporting remote businesses to expand their user base by offering an AI-powered experience to attendees. Also, it provides after-event insight, customer support and a recommendation channel to guests for discovering events based on their interests.
Nextech AR is using augmented reality solutions to create holograms, 3D images of hosts, and expo studios for virtual career fairs and trade exhibitions. Nextech is also supporting universities to combat the challenges of distance learning by AR-enabled labs, live sessions and tracking dashboards.
Following the trend, Microsoft has developed Microsoft Mesh to create holographic avatars of hosts and simulated host-guest interaction. Queppelin is also employing virtual reality and an AI-driven solution package for enterprises to engage with customers.
These virtual platforms have not only enabled democratic participation but have tried to voice the participants with chat features, AMAs, Q&A session and post-event feedback.
Cheshire’s V-Unite allows enterprises to create polls, animated games, rewards and a resource poll for attendees to share and download event-related content. Moreover, enterprises can integrate their V-Unite accounts with social media platforms, CRMs and payment gateways to create a consumer hub.
Technology is at the core of the UK’s thriving event industry. As London opens again in the coming months, these platforms might come up with decent, innovative upgrades to stay relevant. In such a case, hybrid event technology may save companies from failing. An amalgamation of the real and virtual, hybrid events feature both a physical setting and global streaming of content.
Gloucester-based Communique has completed two decades in the industry recently. Communique allows hosts to create 3D templates based on event type for both mobile and PC attendees. Brands can customise events, integrate user analytics and get translation services in more than 29 languages. It has had service requests from Sony, Facebook, Disney and Salesforce, and Communique has responded with happy hours and entertainment specials.
However, most enterprises are still dealing with a stagnated digital divide. Conventional businesses with a preference for in-person events have recorded massive losses this quarter. To drive change and, in turn, revenues, executives need to train their teams with the requisite digital tools. Another solution could be employing versatile tools that take care of all management needs – from planning and promoting to monetising events.
Aventri in Berkshire’s offers support to businesses looking to conduct hybrid events. With Aventri’s Express Event feature, enterprises can create events, run marketing campaigns and rationalise registrations.
According to EventMB, 66.5% of users have preferred hybrid events over in-person functions. Another survey by Bizzabo predicts that 97% users are hopeful of attending more hybrid events in the future. Undoubtedly, hybrid technology is a natural choice for participants who can now enjoy events in the comfort of their homes.
Innovation is traveling at a higher pace now. The event platforms have to make sure that they are not left behind.