Events: Physical Vs Virtual

Lock-down has bought many interruptions and changes for us all and whilst many of those have had negative implications, I want to this month focus on the positive outcomes of COVID-19 in particular for the events industry…

As many of you may have so far seen, events have been taken online into the digital space and a whole new virtual world has been opened up to us like never before.  Of course the digital space has been there for many years and we’ve all utilised it in some way shape or form through and for our businesses, however many of us have never until now used some of the platforms that have quite literally become household names – an example being Zoom.

Zoom and other social software platforms are being used now more than ever as a form of communication and not just for general chit chats, or meetings, but for actual events.

My business came on board with this notion since day one of lock-down and we are getting set to host our third online monthly event through our network, with the aim of maintaining those valuable business relationships,  adding value to our clients and staying visible- the three most important key elements for all businesses to consider right now.

So far, we have received a positive response from our online events, with our clients exercising gratitude for our fast turnaround in adapting our business model to the current situation we are experiencing and offering an alternative.  Now more than ever it is important for us all to stay connected and so these platforms and events combined are doing just that for people.

I am seeing many types of online events being hosted by various organisations and companies hosting their own in-house events, from formal webinars featuring power-point presentations, to general discussions with Q&A’s- some featuring visual aids, others focusing on the individual and their story telling.  For example we recently celebrated our 12th business anniversary online by incorporating a drinking game to the tune of Stevie Wonders ‘Happy Birthday’, changed the backgrounds on Zoom to fun party scenes and told all guests to bring their own booze and toast our milestone together- it was super fun and added a little something extra to the usual mundane webinar format so many fall into the trap of.

 Saying that, I can see things only getting better in the area of online events, with more creativity being thrown at them, to individualise and establish ground-breaking innovation in this area.  Video for a long time has fast become the most popular marketing and communication tool and so its inevitable that video will be used within online events more and more and boundaries will be pushed -I say bring it on!

So where does this leave our old friends the physical events?

My view is that they will never tire, much like nothing beats the feel of reading an actual book over a kindle, or the satisfaction of crumpled pages of a magazine over online reading.  Physical events will always proceed in popularity over online events, as nothing can match the overall experience and opportunities of being present and in the moment as well as face to face networking with the intent of relationship building.  I do however predict that online events will without doubt run alongside physical events and become a part of most businesses marketing strategy.

I know that now I myself have entered into the world of hosting online events, this is not just a temporary measure, they are here to stay for the long run and I look forward to implementing them into my business model further and taking them to new and creative heights.

Fiona Duncan-Steer

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