The future of events is incredibly exciting. An industry that saw a sharp decline in the past few years is now slowly returning to pre-pandemic practices. In the past few years, virtual events were the norm. These gatherings were essential to ensuring connectivity and networking as organisations complied with social distancing restrictions.
While in-person events continue to be the preferred medium regionally, it is important to note that virtual events have enabled individuals and enterprises around the world to interact on a scale like no other. Many important events in the region, ranging from commercial conferences to university graduations were conducted over virtual platforms.
In fact, according to Frost & Sullivan, the global webinars and virtual events market will continue to boom as hybrid work becomes mainstream. Recent analysis finds that the long-term, sustainable impact of hybrid work and the adoption of digital channels are creating an unprecedented wave of virtual events. The global webinars and virtual events market is projected to reach $4.44bn by 2025, up from $1.57bn in 2020.
The incredible amount of innovation over the past two years has been driving this growth. Event managers now have more solutions that are easier to use, provide greater access, and come stocked with features for networking as well as advanced data reporting and analytics.
Companies are also learning that virtual events require the same high-quality production and content creation used to make broadcast TV, sports, and live events engaging and memorable, in order to have a comparable impact and ROI. Applying the lessons of broadcast TV, content creation, and experience design to virtual events will create value and enhance attendee engagement.
A win-win solution for organisers and attendees
Let’s consider the experience of attending a live event, whether it’s a sporting event or an awards function. Thousands of people will show up for the live event, but millions tune in on TV and have a vastly different but equally enjoyable experience. The TV viewing experience is designed, planned, and produced with engaging content, informative commentary, sound design (hearing the refs and/or the players), and other offerings not available to those in person.
However, live events have a greater impact on attendees. Much like TV programmes include a live studio audience, live events supply the content necessary to increase the engagement of the remote viewing audience. Add to this the advances in communication technology over the past two years and enterprises have all the tools you need to create memorable virtual experiences with global reach.
Hybrid events are becoming an effective and profitable event strategy because they combine the intimacy and engagement of live events with the interactivity, flexibility, and global reach of virtual events. This promising approach combines two powerful experiences that can complement one another.
Bridging the gap with technology
As more and more countries in the Middle East adopt hybrid modes of working and learning, hybrid events are poised for growth as well. Event organisers and producers know what it takes to make a successful live gathering; but to bridge the gap between physical and digital experiences, they’re turning to virtual solutions to create connected and unified experiences.
Experience design is important. Event organisers must turn to trusted technology partners to design virtual and hybrid events and create a memorable and engaging experience for attendees. In the age where experience is a key differentiator, events that create the most impact will give the organizers the competitive advantage.
Sam Tayan is the head of Zoom in the MENA