• Helen Pritchett

Events have gone virtual, and it works!

Updated: May 6, 2021

The £84bn UK Events industry is in tatters, and a diverse range of creative and technical skills, venues, suppliers, and infrastructure that make up the UK events eco-system are at risk of extinction.

Under the rule of six, designed to stop a resurgence of COVID infections, traditional conferences, concerts, and other large events are impossible to organise and the events industry is being decimated. Reuters recently reported that Britain’s events industry has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that more than 90,000 people in the exhibitions sector would be made redundant in the coming weeks unless he offered more support to replace a government job furlough scheme.

There are some glimmers of hope for the industry and these can be found in the burgeoning virtual events world. Although live events have been scuppered, organisations have still had to communicate, disseminate messaging, launch products, and host awards ceremonies. Life has not stood still, and the events industry is nothing if not innovative and adaptable, especially when faced with that or its demise. Events companies have set up live studios for clients to come in and either record or live stream conference-style messages and company


One such example is Distinct Solutions, a live event industry stalwart who, due to COVID, has now diversified into the realm of virtual events. It has created a fully equipped studio, including green screen, which clients are regularly coming to use to broadcast messages to employees and customers.

Are events still a valid communication tool?

Yes. It’s simple. Events provide a supremely beneficial environment for establishing business relationships and to promote new products and services. Events are used extensively within the IT industry for both promotion opportunities and provide an agreeable environment for face to face contact and relationship building.

However, we live in a digital environment with end user engagement habits changing constantly, particularly this year with COVID-19 hanging like the sword of Damocles over us all. Consequently, activities to reach your target audience must now be more innovative and various channels should be utilised, including virtual events, digital marketing and technology, social media, telemarketing, SMS and eMarketing.

Even virtual events are a significant investment; you need to ensure your event is marketed effectively and to the right audience. Activities to reach your target audience must be pioneering, compelling and targeted. You must ensure you position and promote your IT events to an engaged IT end-user audience.

Virtual events come of age

Countless events have made the switch this year from the traditional face-to-face format to a virtual experience. One key lesson for event organizers stands out: throw out the rule book and rethink everything you’ve ever done!

It sounds scary but really it's just about embracing a new way of thinking and delivering. The same old layout and format that is as comfortable as your oldest, favourite pair of slippers simply won’t do any more. It’s out with pre-conceived, traditional ideas and in with originality and an open mind.

The Enterprisers Project recently published a useful blog with tips on how to deliver virtual events:

1. Create a human experience in a virtual world 2. Technology can make or break your virtual conference 3. Don’t skimp on production quality 4. Re-think how you connect attendees with each other 5. Don't get hung up old metrics 6. Find ways to engage attendees before, during, and after the event

These are just the headlines, please read the blog for the full detail.

Are virtual events a long-term reality?

Although initially a short-term fix in response to the cancellation of all live events due to COVID, industry experts are now viewing virtual events as a long-term reality. This is not to say that live events are dead, far from it, there will still be a huge place for the face-to-face live event. But the events industry has been able to reimagine itself and can now add virtual events into its arsenal for the future.

Whilst there can be significant production costs involved in a virtual event, there are also huge savings in travel, catering, accommodation, and venue hire, which means that virtual events are more cost-effective. Training and teaching can benefit from the live streaming, virtual route. Not only can it be delivered more cost-effectively but it also means less time out of the business for attendees.

Don’t miss the virtual boat.

As virtual events are becoming commonplace, primarily due to COVID-19, now is the time to shift your marketing strategy and to consider partnering with an agency that can capitalise on its demand generation capabilities to help drive attendance and pipeline at such online activities. An experienced agency will use a combination of outreach channels from digital to social and telemarketing to promote your event or webinar, raising awareness and driving attendance.

Just as with live events, the key to virtual event success is to ensure you promote your events effectively using demand generation to help drive the pipeline and attendance to your online activities. Use data that gives you the best opportunity to find the right audience to target and consider working with an agency that delivers event promotion services on your behalf, getting virtual bums on seats to achieve the best possible attendance figures.

It seems the future of the events industry lies in a fabulous and future-proofed combination of live interaction and virtual, broadcast events. Both have a place.

If you enjoyed this blog, click here to read our other events focused blog: Events Go Virtual in our New Normal.

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