On 9th September, Worksup platform organized the first virtual event from the Worksup LIVE series, about hybrid conferences, challenges & solutions. Worksup LIVE is a virtual event series hosted by the platform, covering different important topics about virtual events every month.
The speakers were Kadri Karu, the Managing Director of the Estonian Convention Bureau (ECB), Endrik Randoja, the Managing Director of Confent and Hedi Krönström, the sales and client support manager of Worksup.
Key Take-aways from Worksup LIVE series: Hybrid conferences, Challenges & Solutions
Kadri Karu, introduced the restrictions during the Autumn season for conferences. She explained how big events have adjusted to the new regulations. Karu agreed that the daily life of organizers are much more complicated. They now need to plan three different formats, live, virtual and hybrid versions of events at the same time to be ready for possible changes.
“It is important to be ready for changes and offer the audience a flexible way to participate. Supportive and correct partners are a big help.”
Karu also mentioned the different publications compiled by ECB, like the guide for safe events. She brought out different examples how organizers have communicated the restrictions and safety instructions.
Endrik Randoja’s presentation focused on the differences of hybrid format and the biggest challenges and lessons learned. He also emphasized the increasing influence the hybrid format is having in the event industry.
“The pandemic will pass, but hybrid format, meaning a conference with a virtual twin, will not disappear. It is a great chance to keep a human touch for the event, while increasing the reach of the target group and using the flexible functions of virtual platforms.”
Hedi Krönström, introduced different solutions how Worksup platform supports the hybrid format of conferences. She explained how Worksup functionalities help to engage participants simultaneously with solutions both onsite and online.
“We cannot say that either of the participants onsite or online have more impact during the event. When the online solutions are well incorporated to both formats, the participants can have an equally engaging experience.”
Worksup is a live-, hybrid and virtual event platform that was founded by Estonian conference organizers in 2018. Since then, the platform has held more than 1000 events. More than 600 have been in virtual and hybrid formats since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. Worksup platform allows to hold virtual meetings and live broadcasts. The most popular features include Q&A, polls and different solutions for enhancing networking and communication. Such as AI interest matchmaking between the participants and chat. In addition there are virtual solutions for expo and sponsors. When leaving the event, the participants can bring virtual business cards from Worksup platform.
For more information, book a free consultation through the button below.
Sometimes you have the perfect idea, content and setting for your virtual event, but the audience does not feel engaged or does not even show up. It is difficult to onboard participants to an online event. And even when you succeed in attracting a desired crowd there is a big drop-out. So how to increase your virtual event attendance?
Here are 5 steps to keep in mind:
1. Set clear goals for your event and audience
Setting clear expectations about how to measure success in event attendance is the foundation of virtual events. Do you care about the fact that you have as many attendees as possible? Or do you care that those attendees are relevant and lead to possible sales or useful contacts. Define your goals of the event first and understand clearly who is the best audience for it.
2. Understand your audience needs
After you have defined the goals and audience, make some research on your possible attendees. Now more than even, understanding when is the best time to organize an event for participants is highly important. Do they have kids who are doing distant learning? Are they busy business owners who have meetings booked all morning. Do they need breaks to go walk the dog? Do your research and keep in mind that the average participant needs some buffer time between sessions. The attention span in the home office is short and full of distractions.
3. Make your virtual event simple
The more you complicate things already before the event, the less the chance your attendee will even show up. With so much going on, participants need something that is easy and relevant to consume. Don’t over-do with registration, functionalities or tracks, keep the communication and organization clear and simple. Minimize your own risks of technical mishaps with seamless broadcasting and clear interaction functionalities. Sometimes less is more.
4. Use correctly timed communication
Depending on how you reach your audience, via e-mail or on social media, make sure you update the participant timely before the event. Often the attendees just humanly forget they even signed up to attend somewhere. Which is why it is important to plan and automate your communication beforehand. On the same day or an hour before, the attendees need to be reminded where and when they have to be.
5. Sharing is caring
And lastly, how to increase your virtual event attendance is by sharing. Encourage the attendees to share – share their thoughts before, during and after the event. Create buzz within the participants to build suspense. Allow networking during the event, allow them to give feedback. Make sure those who did not show up live, will get the content on-demand afterwards. This will not only make the attending more appealing, but also creates a good feeling and expectation for the next event.
Worksup is a virtual and hybrid event platform, enabling clear and easy setup, simple user interface and expert advice. Book your first online consultation below.
Now that we have done the drill of virtual events for a year, there is still a lot of uncertainty with new variants and possible restrictions. This uncertainty leads the reasoning of event managers to continue with virtual or hybrid events, rather than organize one onsite. However, even with organizing online for more than a year, many challenges still remain for 2022. With the following, we will examine more in detail the 5 main challenges for virtual events.
Lack of proper content strategy
The lack of proper content strategy is one of the biggest challenges for virtual events. With a short attention span and day-to-day distractions it is crucial to keep the strategy up to speed. To keep the participant engaged, the content has to fit with the daily plan of the attendee. Aim for shorter or categorized sessions, more television program narrative and easily digestible information. If you are already an experienced virtual event organizer, don’t forget to analyze your event data. Take a close look at the entries and exits, engagement rates and feedback to improve your strategy for next time.
Lack of technical expertise and support
Many event managers are afraid that they or their customers and attendees will have issues with their level of technical skills to get the full event experience online. Managers have many technical details to keep in mind. Starting from choosing the platform, the streaming services and prepare for quick plan B if things go south. This is why it is important to choose the right platform and technical services. Keep in mind the skill levels of your attendees!
As always, the key here is to keep the event simplistic and bulletproof. Don’t over complicate the event and create more risks that you are not able to handle. It is even more important to have the right partners who are able to give you the expert technical support you or your participants might be lacking. If the support system from your event platform is efficient, relevant and fast, the foundation of creating overall success is already in place.
Lack of engagement
Even with so many possibilities to create more engagement, the challenge to get the participants engaging is still relevant today. More so after doing virtual events already for a year, the attendees are starting to experience online fatigue. Too many options or not purposeful functions create too much noise around the event. The focus should be on using the engagement tools based on the needs and interests of the participants. Features like live polls, Q&A and chats are becoming standard and can be used more purposefully within the content. To provide the similar experience of on-site events, it is important to enable live networking with peers. And don’t forget about connecting with the exhibitors and sponsors as well.
Lack of understanding the return on investment
Many event organizers are facing difficulties in convincing their customers and partners to invest in online events. Understandably, hard times need hard measures. Not all companies are ready to put aside the money for events, when it is needed more elsewhere. The key here is to know the purpose of your event and communicate it well.
Clear goals and benefits will not only help to convince, but also get you forward in content strategy and marketing. Plan clear indications to measure the success of your event. For example, track audience growth, engagement, leads etc. and use the results to improve your next event. Sometimes a well organized event can be the only solution to boost the morale of your company, partners and audience.
Lack of security awareness
The last of 5 challenges for virtual events is security. With everything moving online, the risks of breach or cyber attack are even higher than before. It is important to keep cyber security in mind. Especially, if your customer has high profile information they are sharing in their private online event. Moreover, the cyber hygiene standard should be covered from participants, to organizers, reaching all the way to your partners and platform providers. Make sure you check their security standards and keep in mind your own security processes during the event. Aim for solutions that provide different levels of security so that you are able to easily navigate between different needs of your clients.
Worksup is a virtual and hybrid event platform, enabling clear and easy setup, simple user interface and expert advice. Book your first online consultation below.
There are a number of reasons why more and more companies are choosing to host virtual trade shows. But how do you ensure your trade show attendees love the experience? Here, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you make sure your next virtual trade show is a success.
1. Choose a versatile event platform
Choosing a platform for your virtual trade show, make sure that except for the basic features such as exhibitors virtual booth info and contacts review, it enables participants to set up demos, chat or make video calls. The right tool and functionality will facilitate communication between exhibitors and attendees. And in reverse, limited functionality will reduce it, so keep an eye to pick a good one. Also, avoid too complex platforms with an extensive amount of bells and whistles that confuse the audience and make navigation harder. You can learn more about the Worksup expo feature here. It enables online visitors to easily connect with booths representatives, set up calls or meetings.
2. Have a contextual message
Nothing fosters the communication between two sides better than shared interests. Sometimes preparing for a virtual trade show, exhibitors don’t align their offer and messages according to the audience needs and thus, feel a lack of attention. To make the messages more contextual, exhibitors may think about the challenges participants face nowadays. And from this point, they could polish the offer to match the audience needs better.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses dramatically changed the way they cooperate: from a new business model to the customer acquisition process. It brought new challenges and new opportunities, and the homework of virtual exhibitors would be to carefully discover the pains to create a spot-on message.
3. Make the expo more visible and attractive
Learn if a platform you use allows making your partners or sponsors more visible. It’s important that it should be easy to navigate to the expo area but also you may want to think about additional visible boosters that would encourage attendees to enter the area.
As an example, at Worksup we enable event organizers to list sponsors’ or partners’ logos banner at the bottom of the agenda which is seen all event long. Clicking on a concrete logo, a participant is redirected to the company’s booth where they could discover potential cooperation opportunities with each other.
Another positive outcome is that linking the expo to the break sessions and virtual booths to particular presentations also boosts traffic.
4. Activate partners
Partners often take a very passive role in virtual expo thinking that most of the work should be done by event organizers. But in order to have a lively and engaging expo, in addition to the more personalized message and materials, you need to encourage them to proactively contact the participants, too. Instead of waiting for the audience to approach partners by themselves, partners could review the attendees’ interests (if the platform allows to), start a conversation and make a value proposition. If connect with the right person, it will bring more fruitful outcomes at the end for all stakeholders: attendees, partners and organizer.
5. Activate and guide participants
Another common mistake that affects virtual trade show results is acquiring great functionality and not explaining how to use it. In this case, no matter how cool your exhibitors are, no one will enjoy it if they don’t know how to access it. Even if something seems to be obvious for us, very often it can be seen not the same way by other people. Therefore, you may want to build a clear vision for attendees on how to access virtual expo, what possibilities it provides and how to use it. The best way would be to announce it before the event. Or if the platform functionality allows, you can even attach a quick guide on how to use it for those who missed this explanation in the beginning.
Also, tech tools can assist with virtual trade shows in many ways. The real impact could be done when the platform and organizer combine their efforts. For that, reach out to your audience with quick announcements in-between sessions to encourage visiting the expo area. To seed interest, you can briefly describe a few companies listed, what they do or name some promotions they offer during this event.
There are a few things to consider when choosing the best platform for your virtual event. If you’re hosting an event, you’ll need to choose a live platform that allows you and your attendees to connect in real time. We’ve put together five steps on how to choose the best platform for your virtual events that will ensure smooth sailing as you host and promote your next event.
1. Start with “Why?”
First of all, before making any subscriptions, ask yourself: “Why do I do this?” What do you need to achieve with this particular virtual event? Is it providing a playground for virtual networking to let participants easily chat with each other? Making an outstanding virtual expo to connect businesses with customers? Or maybe you’re supposed to make an engaging conference with lots of fun activities? No matter what type of event you’re organizing, start with a goal. It’ll become your constant reminder of the direction you need to move forward on each organizational step.
2. Get to know your audience
When the big goal is clear and you already know what do you need, as the next step, think about the attendees. How many of those are going to attend? Who are these people and what kind of activities they enjoy? Even small audience research will draw you a bigger picture of the expectations that might be towards the event platform, organizational level or activities during an event.
3. Create a feature comparison table
After you defined the goal and learnt about the audience, you put a puzzle together and got a better perception of what kind of requirements and expectations are in front of you. That said, now you should get a vision of what features set might be necessary for your event. Make a list of 4-6 platforms you’re considering and features that they provide. If you don’t want to create your own, Worksup already did it for you. As an example, review the comparison table presented below, feel free to save and use it whenever the time comes. In the comparison analysis, you can check the functionality of the platforms like Slido or Mitingu.
4. Dive into it
Another important step in choosing a platform for virtual events is talking with their teammate. Even though most companies are doing their best to make the functionality clear and user-friendly, don’t miss a chance to watch a demo and learn better the angles of the product you’re going to use. For example, at Worksup, we even provide free consultations to support you with creating your first virtual events assuring high usability. This option is available for both platform newcomers and existing clients that may need any help. You can book the consultation just in a few clicks. At this stage, if you think that a platform for virtual events you’ve chosen looks good but after the talk, it doesn’t feel like this anymore, turn back to point 3 and continue the search.
5. Try it out yourself
Congrats! You’re on the finish line and almost ready to make the right choice. The last hatch is to make sure that the platform you’ve decided to use not only looks and feels good but also works the same way. For that, leave an hour or two in your calendar for testing it. Create a cooked-up event very similar to your real one. Try every feature that you’re going to use. And of course, don’t forget about connecting the equipment of all stakeholders and testing it out on the platform as well.
Sometimes, even an easy at the first glance task such as choosing a platform for virtual events may require a special approach and be time-consuming. But following the right plan, you’ll be delighted with the result and feedback you get at the end.
Hybrid conferences are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They provide the unique opportunity for attendees to bridge the gap between in-person and remote participants. But as most event managers know, you can’t have one without the other! We’ve pulled together some tips to help you engage your on-site participants while simultaneously cultivating a strong online presence that’s sure to benefit both your virtual and physical attendees.
1. Switch speeches with activities
Undoubtedly, people take part in hybrid conferences to listen to other people and get new insights. Thus, if you want participants to enjoy the conference and get knowledge from it, you may want to shift speeches with something else, not to overload them with tons of information at once.
What can you do? First, leave enough time for coffee breaks and make sure you anticipated lunch-time so participants can have some rest. You can try combining speeches with activities to keep participants’ attention. For example, to engage everyone, hold a virtual poll in-between performances. It will help to learn participants’ opinion on a matter and stir them up. Secondly, use Worksup image tasks to capture one’s emotions or get an answer with an image that you could project on a screen. Third, to activate the audience, ask open-ended questions that could give you specific insights. After that, you can visualize answers on a screen in different ways so everyone can see them. Choose a kind of interaction that suits your hybrid conference. If not sure, a Worksup expert can advise you on what to select.
2. Make a playground for business connections
Another critical and often missed part is virtual networking. Even though part of the attendees are onsite and can easily communicate with each other, think about the ways to connect for the virtual audience. Make sure, everyone knows how to network on the chosen platform and can invite another attendee for a meeting.
For example, Worksup allows participants to have a chat or video call during events or set them up for the future. Also, if a conference has an expo area, they can easily approach the company’s reps online, ask them about the product or agree on a demo time.
Except for the 1-1 conversation, you can enable group chat so that participants can write messages visible for everyone and find new business connections there.
3. Same audience, same attention
Sometimes, having part of the participants in-person, conference organizers can occasionally prioritize them over the virtual audience. It can make online participants feel like they’re simply watching a Zoom webinar, and after all, influence their impression about the hybrid conference. Even though the prices for in-person and virtual format sometimes differ, make sure that everyone is treated the same way. For instance, the online audience may find it inappropriate when a moderator or speaker constantly interacts with people sitting in a room.
Even though it’s much easier to talk to a person nearby, plan that all Q&A, random outreach and other interactions to be equally split among all participants. Make certain that all necessary information such as changes in agenda, any how-to guides or info about the next steps is clear for both sides. It also refers to the post-event followups, sending materials, feedback or thank you notes.
Overall, organizing a hybrid conference takes a lot of efforts to please both online and offline audiences. The article presents a piece of advice that could help organizers to execute this process better and let every attendee enjoy an event to the fullest.
While live streaming is often seen as the best way to get your message out there, it’s still new technology and can be challenging to get right. You’ll need to think about how you want to present yourself, what you want your viewers to know about you and your business, and how you can turn this into an opportunity that grows your audience. This post will cover the good, the bad, and the ugly of live streaming so that you don’t make any costly mistakes when getting started.
Live Stream Key Error
Stream key is a special code used to identify a source of video streaming, to show the stream on a website. Sometimes, preparing a web conference live stream on Facebook live, you can get popup errors like “failed to connect” or “couldn’t get the access to the stream key”. In this case, make sure you’re using the latest version of your broadcasting software (e.g. OBS, Wirecast, or XSplit), and your stream key is correct – check if you copied the correct stream key from Facebook to the chosen streaming software. If it still doesn’t work, reset the key and try again.
Poor Conference Streaming Quality
To have a smooth picture and sound doesn’t necessarily require buying expensive equipment. To avoid any issues with the stream quality, better use wired internet. WIFI is unstable and it requires software to optimise itself constantly. Check if you connected the equipment parts the right way to reveal where exactly the problem hides – the camera, microphone, software or lighting if any are used.
Not Correct Testing
Test everything as closely as possible to the actual event. While the stream might run well on OBS or vMix preview, test the embedded stream in the environment your audience will be attending, eg. Worksup. If you do not wish your audience to witness your tests make a copy of your event and test the embedded live stream there. There you can adjust the sync etc in peace.
A YouTube Live Stream Is Not Embeddable
Sometimes the live streaming is not embeddable on Youtube due to the host’s account limitations. Before making a stream, make sure that the host’s number of subscribers allows streaming, as for now, you can’t do this with less than 1000 followers. Another reason could be that the host reached the daily live streaming limit, in this case, to proceed with the stream, you need to wait for 24 hours.
Streaming Unauthorised Content
Youtube and Facebook scan third-party content for matches, including both audio and video. When such copies are identified, you’ll be required to stop streaming the third-party’s content. Only when complying with it, you’re allowed to continue, in other cases, your stream will be terminated.
Sound and Video Are Not Synchronized
The sound goes ahead of the video stream or goes other way round. Another annoying issue that can badly influence attendees’ experience of a web conference. To avoid such situations, before the event, make sure the sync between the audio and video is adjusted.
As more and more businesses begin to realize the benefits of connecting with customers virtually, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to promotion. In this article, we’ll look at some unusual virtual event promotion ideas for 2021 — tips that will help you attract attention without breaking the bank.
Ideas For Virtual Event Promotion
As opposed to the duration, event promotion channels can be similar for both large and small scale events. We prepared 10 unusual yet simple to implement ideas for the virtual event promotion that can help you to reach thousands of people.
#1 Collaboration with sponsors
Yes, we know it’s your job to advertise sponsors. But who said they can’t advertise you as well? If the sponsors’ audience can be relevant to your virtual event, reach out to them asking for an announcement on their website or social media. To save time, prepare the content you want to be published, in advance.
#2 Slack communities
There are thousands of Slack channels with announcements which everyone can freely join. Depending on the virtual event topic, search for the relevant channels whose members potentially might be interested in attending your event.
#3 Google hidden possibilities
Not only Google Ads can make your virtual event seen. If your organization has a Google My Business account, post your announcement there. The service also allows to track the performance and check analytics.
If your virtual event is regular, consider creating a page about it on Wikipedia. Tell a story about the history of the event, its purposes and the impact it makes. Also, you can describe who stands behind the processes or add some interesting facts about the event.
#5 Event on Linkedin
Recently, Linkedin allowed creating separate pages for events. Just like on Facebook, you can set an event with the main information about the event, and thus easier promote the virtual event on Linkedin.
#6 Power of the influential speakers
Make a list of event speakers who may have a wide network of relevant connections and ask them about a favor. Such influencers are always gladly sharing the announcement of their next big talk encouraging their readers to attend an event.
#7 Event forums & communities
Think about the problems your virtual event can help to solve, then engage in the relevant forums and communities telling about that. Be as specific as possible, as your job firstly is to help, then to promote.
Working with different vendors such as design, video or sound companies, think about them as an additional source of the virtual event promotion. Where relevant, ask about the post in social media. In return, you can recommend them to your personal network.
#9 Landing page with an educational blog
Use your event landing page to provide valuable content that people will want to share: articles, tools, interviews will increase your virtual event’s brand awareness and make it more visible.
#10 Share the “making of” experience
If you’re struggling with content marketing for your event, try sharing the scenes behind the organization. Show photos and videos of the preparation, or even stories about the challenges or fails you faced. This can help you to build empathy and connection with your readers.
Combining the suggested ways would make a virtual event promotion process easier for you. If you are stuck on another planning stage and need a piece of advice, book a free consultation with our virtual event expert.
Online events are a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers and prospects. But, if they’re not executed well, they can be an expensive exercise that doesn’t yield the results you want. To help you make your virtual events more engaging for your audience, here are some tips on planning, and creating them.
At the beginning of 2020, thousands of event organizers all over the world rushed to switch to the new event format that seemed to be the only chance to save jobs and the event industry in general. Some of them already got some experience organizing virtual events here and there in the past. While others – the majority – had no idea not only how to switch to the virtual mode, but most important, how to make an audience like it.
It’s been a few months already, and a lot of event agencies have chosen their unique way to move forward. They developed an in-house solution, started cooperation with vendors, or simply stopped on Zoom. Some of them mixed. At that date, the main agency focus, in most cases, laid within a how-to-stay-alive trajectory. While reality dictated that if we want to save events, we should focus on people, not processes.
The most valuable component – human – has often been missed in the equation. It clearly explains why when a company, which seemed to find a solution not to sink in the mud of unexpected changes, failed. Everyone would agree that a dry live stream speech with 10 min canyouhearme in the beginning and 5 chat questions at the end, is not something you‘d like to experience again. Such poorly organized events lead to the myth that virtual events are boring. Or that they’re just a worse version of traditional. Or – our favourite – virtual events are with us only till the virus vaccine found, right? Wrong.
At Worksup, we know that virtual events experience could also be as breathtaking, fun, and exciting as it used to be with traditional events. Of course, only if cooked with the right recipe. So what is the magic of making attendees want to attend your next virtual event? We’re sharing 3 actions organizers often forget about that might become crucial for every virtual event.
1. Initial audience research
When everyone is sure that virtual events should be all interesting and interactive, not many may think that the interactivities differ depending on an event and audience type. For some of the events, it’s worth using virtual tasks, for others, it’s better to go with open-ended questions. Even if a platform provides a variety of different features, be careful: you may not need the whole combo to make attendees happy. The easiest way would be to make initial research learning your audience, their preferences, and interests. You can learn about your attendees by asking some questions during the online registration process or, if an event is not very big, by reviewing their professional profiles on websites like Linkedin. Those half an hour spent could give you a better vision for whom you’re doing it all and even influence important decisions. In case you don’t have enough time for that, Worksup experienced consultants are always eager to advise you on the most suitable way of setting up activities for your event. You can get a free recommendation for your virtual event optimization by filling this form.
2. Stop skipping demos, really
Sometimes, experienced event organizers are suffering from knowing it all syndrome. Thinking that nothing can impress or challenge them anymore, they confidently do a lot of stuff by themselves in their way. All good, there’s only one “but”: this productivity do-it-alone rule doesn’t work with virtual events. Often organizers are opening a virtual event platform, walk around, make a test event (if a platform’s functionality allows), and then closing the tab as it’s not as expected. Again, wrong. The best way to discover the virtual platform’s capabilities is to watch its demo – find it on the homepage or kindly ask the support to present to you the benefits of the solution. For example, at Worksup, you can book a free consultation or demo with this link. Exploring the features alone, you may miss valuable functionality that may be beneficial for your event. The demo is another 30 minutes you need to invest in the virtual event organization to make it on a professional level. Believe us – you won’t regret that.
3. Virtual events need a Plan B
Yes, even in the fanciest event platforms, the quality of the sound can unexpectedly go down. Yes, and the pictures too. We know no one likes that, we too, but the harsh truth is, on the internet, it can happen. Isn’t it the event organizers nightmare? Such situations are the right time for your Plan B. What do you mean you don’t have one?
On virtual events, like on any traditional ones, some troubles could wait for you just around the corner. Virtual events seem to be more dangerous as there are more things you can not control (you think so). It doesn’t mean your event is more likely to collapse. In a nutshell, no matter, what kind of event you are organizing: if you haven’t worked with risks in advance, or if you haven’t prepared Plan B, there are no excuses for that. Here comes the last 30 min task for you. Before every event, no matter the format, prepare a list of at least 10 risks of it-can-go-wrong points. In front of each of them, write the solutions accordingly. Working out the worst-case scenarios and solutions to them in your head makes chances that any trouble will get you out of control just miserable. In the end, you will thank yourself a few times for doing it.
Trying to cut time on valuable things in event planning (yet sometimes not the most interesting ones) rarely leads to something great or memorable. Virtual events, like any others, require a responsible approach and attention to detail. What you need to remember is that often exactly the detail plays a crucial role in the attendees’ minds and you can master them with patience.
“Only within half a year, thousands of film premieres, theatre performances, conferences, and sports competitions have been postponed or cancelled all over the world. At the same time, people’s desire to get more inspiration or more information never stopped. In this confrontation, online technologies build a powerful bridge between people and businesses to stay connected and united during these uncertain times. In this context, events are something that has always been a glue for inspiration, knowledge, and getting new connections, and it should transform into a virtual format now”, – writes Endrik Randoja.
This year’s Eurovision cancellation is a good example of how leaders of many institutions have acted over the last century, despite having the well-structured IT capabilities. At a time when Europe needed something in common and there even was a kind of application solution for this, the opportunity was missed.
Technically, artists from different countries could have performed even from their kitchens, providing a high-quality resolution, and interesting show overall. It could have created an extremely different experience for all sides – organizers, performers, and viewers, and become perhaps the most significant Eurovision in its history.
Let’s do it in 2021
Almost since the beginning of the year, a lot of European venues have been full of orders to postpone events that had to take place in spring to be held in autumn, and now for the next year. I’d say there are at least three “buts” in this matter. Firstly, it’s a mistake to think that later on, there will be more time or money to keep the audience together than it is now. Secondly, due to the “hot” events season this fall and even the next spring, it will be rather difficult to switch yourself between all the events happening – it relates to both organizers and attendees. And lastly, we need to consider that the virus is already living in our reality since the beginning of 2020. And while at a lot of European countries we can already anticipate the second wave coming, on the other hand, there are countries, like the US – where the whole mess has just begun not long ago. Therefore, no one takes responsibility to state for how long the emergency will last and how quickly people will return the courage to establish new professional connections with other people during the physical events again.
Now or never
For example, recently we decided the fate of one conference that was planned to be held in the early fall. Firstly we made a decision to postpone it to the next year, though, after some critical thinking, it was finally decided that the conference will be organized during the nearest time in a virtual format. Discussing with colleagues and analyzing all pros and cons, we concluded that this sector needs ideas and information right now, and we didn’t want to be the ones who stop this headway.
Currently, despite most European countries are starting to ease the lockdown and some companies allow working from offices, a lot of employees are still struggling with doing so, and prefer to continue working from home. The same situation is happening with events – for example, in Central and Eastern Europe where traditional event format has been allowed with following some restrictions – keeping distance, regular hand washing, and participants number limitation. Nevertheless, despite the long-awaited possibility to finally meet offline, the reality is that even following all the rules and taking measures, organizers still struggle with gathering attendees together. The reason is that people know: the restrictions have been eased but the virus – has not. And such “defensive” behaviour could stay with us for a long time even after the vaccine will be found.
When events become virtual, there’s a special approach towards them too. Now, service providers have got the opportunity to “prove themselves in new circumstances”, and provide their best whenever it’s possible. Getting professional partners who will support under the new set of conditions, will enable you to provide the same good customer experience during virtual events.
Taking into account the opportunities that we currently have, event organizers are perhaps the fastest and easiest ones to adapt to the new reality and provide the same quality services. At the same time, it made the organizers also be more careful. There are fears that there is not as much funding for virtual events as in the regular events offline. But it’s important to understand that some costs such as the venue and catering are significantly lower too.
Another beneficial advantage is that in a virtual event the number of participants can be unlimited. It is much easier to involve famous performers from all over the world without any logistics obstacles. Participants also can get much brighter experience in a virtual environment making interactions with speakers and other “attendees” online.
A hybrid future
There are many opinions that a lot of industries won’t be the same after the crisis. For example, now a lot of organizers don’t see any reasons why conferences should always be offline when virtual participation can provide the same experience: getting relevant information, having meetings with other participants, listening to inspiring speeches, or listing some sponsorship offers.
Perhaps, it’ll be useful to make a thinking exercise, imagine how events would look like if the crisis lasts for a long time? We need to consider this scenario as well. The Olympics were postponed, but if there were a virtual 100-meter run with the world champions, that would be interesting to watch. For e-games, the virtual world is commonplace and it already attracts millions of people globally. How to adopt this experience in other fields is a challenging question now.
Of course, most of us live with the belief that everything will recover quickly and that conferences and festivals will take place in the usual way in the nearest times. It’s important to stay positive, and at the same time to take action and adapt to the reality and opportunities that we currently have when we can organize even larger and better virtual versions of events.