Will virtual and hybrid measures be relevant after lifting assembly restrictions? How to choose the right format for your event and find the most convenient digital solution? These are issues that have become relevant not only to event organisers, but also to everyone hosting events for customers, employees, investors and other important audiences.
To make it easier for business representatives to decide on the appropriate format and digital tools for organising the event, this article will look at the types of events, advantages and challenges, and the most popular digital solutions on the market. Learn about the latest technology for the digital transformation at the Business Technology Exhibition and conferences RIGA COMM 2021 to be held at the Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre on October 14 and 15.
Face-to-face events is the most effective way to build business relationships
Attending events, people aim to learn something new, meet people with similar interests, and gain a sense of adventure and new emotions. The opportunity to meet has always been an important part of the event, and in today’s digital environment, it is an important argument in the debate on the choice of the right format for the event. Today, people spend a lot of time online on computers and mobile phones and the opportunity to meet people in person has become a great value. In the business environment, face-to-face communication also allows for deeper and more valuable relationships. However, physical events also have their challenges: hosting costs are often higher than for virtual or hybrid events, and there are more constraints, such as space capacity and geographical location.
Threats of virtual events: poor Internet performance and ill-considered scenario
The main bonus of virtual events is the reach of a large audience, as the audience reached depends only on marketing skills and capabilities of the event platform; it is not limited by location and capacity of the venue. The event in a virtual environment also allows you to reduce or eliminate visitors’ travel expenses and save their time – participants spend time only on the actual virtual event, not on the road.
Organising a virtual event usually also means lower costs, as there is no need to rent and furnish premises, produce physical marketing materials, provide snacks and drinks. However, the costs section must include expenses for the use of a platform, a stable Internet connection, sound and other technical costs.
The benefits of virtual events are the speed and ease of all types of data analysis. You can monitor visitor engagement data in real time, such as the number of potential customers, scheduled appointments, visitor engagement, and other valuable performance metrics. If the event has supporters or sponsors, they can increase brand awareness through various advertising opportunities on the platform. Unlike physical events, marketing and informational materials as well as event content can be saved and used later. Changes to the event programme or information can also be made almost immediately compared to face-to-face events.
Virtual events however also have their challenges, e.g. these are not as much community connecting as spot-on events. Various technological solutions have been developed to encourage audience engagement and interaction, but this should be specifically considered and possibly additional human resources should be involved in the event. Live text, audio, and video chat tools let you engage your audience and keep in touch with people they care about. Moreover, matchmaking and networking are accurate and targeted – visitors receive recommendations and look for companies that best suit their interests. This opens up huge opportunities for business development.
The opportunity to visit an event from any place in the world can be an advantage and a challenge at the same time. The virtual environment allows more people to visit your event, but do not await people to tune in from a very different time zone. You should also remember that visitors might not be able to sit on a computer all day, so it is good practice to offer the on-demand content.
In virtual events, you can use the elements of live events, however, you need to think carefully about the event scenario and make adjustments as the audience looks at the screen only watching what is happening much more carefully, unless they get bored. Unfortunately, virtual events cannot guarantee an exclusive attention of the participants – they can surf the web and their attention can be distracted by factors of the physical environment. Virtual events are an especially successful solution for introverted people, if information about the content and participants is available before the event.
Hybrid events – more benefits and more preparation
Hybrid events combine the features of face-to-face and virtual events, seemingly benefiting from both, but they also mean double preparation. One of their biggest bonuses is the freedom of choice to attend the event in person or virtually. Moreover, the choice is not limited by travel time, money resources and restrictions; it is also an opportunity to attend the event and meet people in person.
However, hybrid events also pose many challenges for organisers; they are difficult to organise and can be expensive. It means organisation of two events. Gone are the days when you could stream just in the back of a room with a camera. Now visitors demand more! The event must be planned and implemented in such a way that both face-to-face and online visitors are satisfied and have an equivalent experience. Special consideration should be given to the involvement of both audiences, as this distinguishes the hybrid event from live stream.
The quality of virtual events is influenced by technical equipment and Internet performance – for both organisers and visitors. When a technical problem occurs in a face-to-face event, there are still ways to manage the situation without significantly damaging the visitor experience, but in a virtual event, visitors are more impatient.
Choose the most suitable tool for organising virtual events!
When choosing a virtual event platform, remember that visitors want to engage in the content of the event in a meaningful way, as well as expand their network of acquaintances and make new professional contacts. To ensure that users enjoy the event, use a platform that focuses on simplicity and a great user experience.
The Swapcard event platform offers all tech you need to organise face-to-face, virtual and hybrid events – registration, engagement, matchmaking, community and other tools.
Hopin is an online events platform where you can create engaging virtual events. It allows participants to network with live video, make contacts and exchange virtual business cards, join separate sessions, watch stage presentations, send chat messages, complete surveys and explore interactive exhibition areas.
Brella is a networking software for face-to-face, virtual and hybrid events to facilitate individual meetings and networking. The platform is designed for meaningful one-to-one meetings – virtual, physical and hybrid. The platform provides an opportunity to offer several live streams; it is a powerful tool for sponsors and its AI algorithm helps to find the most suitable interlocutor.
Whova makes virtual and hybrid events simpler and more interactive by offering session streaming, video replays, digital stands, participant engagement and networking – everything you need for a virtual or hybrid conference, exhibition or career fair.
The EventsWallet platform provides an unlimited number of live streams and sessions, as well as the opportunity to ask questions to speakers. It includes an exhibition section, discussions and video chats, as well as a one-to-one communication tool. A virtual video meeting room with screen sharing and an unlimited number of participants allows for productive meetings, while detailed statistics allow the organiser to track the activity of each user and the effectiveness of the event as a whole.
Talque makes it easy to manage speakers and presentations, has a visual scheduler and a list view, as well as it supports multiple languages. Networking can be based on interests that are tailored to the specific event.
Latvian developers offer ATTEND.ONE, an integrated online and hybrid event platform that contains a full event experience. Video streams with multiple live and pre-recorded event stages, extensive participant communication, news feeds with interactive posts, smart agenda linked to your calendar, pools and questions, virtual EXPO area, smart gamification, AI matchmaking and much more.
Mitto.me is also an event management tool developed in Latvia. This SaaS (Software as a Service) tool is suitable for organising sports games, corporate events or birthday parties, as well as large-scale events. This digital solution provides an event homepage and app, easy communication and facilitates organising a digital event.
PINE is a 100% event management platform with a variety of tools facilitating engagement, matchmaking and networking for participants, and improving the overall effectiveness of events.
Meetyoo offers virtual events with a human touch – virtual and hybrid events with customizable 3D environments, outstanding customization and tools for interactive communication and networking between participants.
Deal Room allows you to create engaging virtual, face-to-face and hybrid events. The platform provides enhanced engagement in one-to-one meetings, pre-booking, matchmaking and networking, an unlimited number of parallel sessions, discussions, and webinars, virtual expo area for sponsors and exhibitors, and opportunities to increase the event ROI.
Airmeet is a virtual event venue providing real engagement and better interaction, offering unforgettable events and experiences for the audience.
Learn about the latest business development technology, tools and techniques at the annual business and IT industry event RIGA COMM, October 14–15, where developers and suppliers of enterprise resource management, document management, HRM and security systems, suppliers of cloud services, internet and digital marketing services, web solutions and mobile application developers, and ICT product manufacturers offer ready-to-use and tailored solutions for companies in different industries and of different sizes, municipal authorities and organisations to facilitate efficient operation. An extensive conference programme will complement the technology exhibition.
RIGA COMM is held by the International Exhibition Company BT 1 in cooperation with Intelligent Machines Riga, Riga TechGirls, SmartHR Latvija, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mailigen, Finance Latvia Association and other partners.