The pandemic led to the inception of virtual events in 2020. While every business adopted the virtual medium to sustain and recover, the event industry was no exception and hence began the era for ‘virtual events’. They have been growing at a significant pace and it is anticipated that the virtual event industry is expected to rise exponentially both at the national and global levels.
In 2021, while the businesses are focusing on survival and recovery, the events industry is leaving no stone unturned to rise and shine and it seems to have a promising future. Grand View Research’s report, Global Virtual Events market size points out a similar trend and states that the global virtual events market size was valued at $77.98 billion in 2019 and is projected to hit the $404 billion-plus mark and grow at a CAGR of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027. The major reason for this growth will be the increasing popularity of Unified Communication as a service (UcaaS) along with the shift in the audience’s preferences. The report further shares that Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest-growing regional markets and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.8% from 2020 to 2027. It also states that India specifically will witness a significant growth in the number of SMBs and this will push the growth of virtual events in the country.
Challenges faced by virtual events in India and their plausible solutions
The strategies for organizing events have undergone a 360-degree transformation owing to the virtual aspect of events. Hence, organizations have to come up with innovative ideas to cope with the changing nature of events and external situations along with the shifting preferences of the audiences towards virtual events in the country. However, despite their benefits, they do face various challenges as well that impact the event’s outcomes and the brand’s communication with the audience.
Here we share with you some of the major roadblocks faced by virtual events in India and how planners can overcome these with ease.
Lack of technical expertise
Despite living in a techie world, lack of technical expertise acts as one of the major hurdles for the growth of virtual events. In the absence of an experienced workforce, the technical team which is the backbone of the virtual events industry, can face troubles and this could cause disruptions in the flow of the virtual event.
To resolve this issue, you need to have a dedicated and experienced technical team in place that can provide you multiple dry runs to ensure that there are almost zilch technical glitches. These experts extend possible solutions and backups to deal with these errors.
Availability of state-of-the-art technology
Using cutting-edge technological solutions in virtual events is critical to extend an enriched experience to the audience. The virtual events industry is ever-evolving since it relies on technology which grows significantly due to the continuous introduction of various high-end solutions. However, not all these features are available with or easily accessible by the event organizers and hence virtual events lack quality due to the absence of state-of-the-art technological solutions.
The solution for this challenge lies in roping in the virtual event aggregators that would enable event monitoring and coordination all under one dashboard. With their skilled team and expertise, these event solutions providers have deep insights about the various recent technologies and help provide the same to the event organizers who do not have access to these state-of-the-art technological solutions and ensure seamless, glitch-free, and tech-savvy virtual event experience.
Lack of engagement opportunities
Managing the bulk audience and ensuring that they remain engaged is indeed one of the major hurdles that event organizers often face while organizing virtual events. Since there is no face-to-face interaction and every aspect of the event is happening in the online space, keeping the audience hooked is tough.
However, to make sure your attendees actively participate, you need to onboard virtual event platform aggregators who can elevate audience experience by incorporating creative, artistic, and quirky elements in the form of standup comedians, keynote sessions of thought leaders, caricature drawings and silhouettes, live stream sketching, theatre workshops with Broadway professionals, virtual magic and mentalism shows. Additionally, one could also include gamification, virtual code-breaking adventure, team digital mosaics, live-streamed artists performance, live concerts, Q&A sessions, etc. to gather audience attention and interest. We also need to strategically place ice-breaking sessions, high-tea breaks, and fillers like the traditional events along with ensuring the provision of way-outs to enable networking amongst the audience.
Relevant content strategy
The pandemic has made us focused and practical in our mindset. Hence, despite the convenience and flexibility of virtual events which makes it easy for the audience to enjoy them from the comfort zone of their homes while working, they prefer investing their time and efforts only on the events that will be relevant for them. A plethora of virtual events are organized daily and hence the quality gets compromised.
To tackle this road bump, we need to ensure that the content has to be interesting and creative enough to attract the audience and should be relevant to ensure attendee retention. Using the right content mix with reference to the post-pandemic economic situation as per the specific industry along with the apt marketing strategies is important to render the desired impact on the attendees.
While these are some of the major challenges faced by virtual events, there are other additional hassles ranging from gathering feedback post-event to enabling smooth communication both internal and external in the digital space.
The event industry works with the ‘customer first’ approach and hence works to deliver what the audience wants. Organizing an online event requires as much effort as a physical event. A pre-event, live-event, and post-event strategy has to be conceptualized to ensure that we have our targets, possible errors, their solutions, outcomes, and feedback in place. Virtual events have stepped in as a blessing in disguise as they have opened the door for a myriad of opportunities at the global level and especially in India. All one needs to do is to utilize the online space optimally and devise the event strategy accordingly to extend the required impact and reap the desired benefits.
By Paras Lohani, Founder and CEO, B2B Sales Arrow