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The face of corporate events has changed dramatically over the past few years. Whereas virtual events had been on the rise, the pandemic forced marketers to shift time, effort, and budget to online events almost instantly. “Zoom” and “Teams” became known to schoolchildren and parents as much as IT professionals and remote workers, and virtual platforms became the only feasible event tool available to marketing teams.
But with COVID firmly in the rear-view mirror, several event planners and attendees are looking to return to full in-person activities as soon as possible. Humans are designed to communicate in person, face to face, in the same physical space — so a return to in-person events makes perfect sense. However, the last few years have shown us that virtual experiences are an excellent way of delivering events and are here to stay.
There are significant benefits to be realised from utilising virtual and hybrid events. Increased availability of content before and after events, the ability to create a year-round community for attendees, and a reduced impact on travel budgets and the environment — each of these benefits individually is nice, but collectively they are massively compelling. With organisations feeling the effects of spiralling global energy costs, just as remote workers have not all flooded back to their physical office, a return to the “good old days” of flying around the world to attend events doesn’t necessarily seem the most viable or prudent option.
With these conflicting perspectives, all equally persuasive, where should events managers focus? What is the strategy for an organisation that can run in-person, virtual, or hybrid events?