The value of face-to-face interaction will never fade away in lieu of virtual events. Will Kataria, director of sales with Cvent Singapore, shares how online solutions can instead, play a supportive role
There is no denying that the meetings and event industry has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. With gatherings across the globe temporarily halted due to social distancing regulations, industry professionals are grappling for solutions and are looking for a path forward.
And during this time, I believe there is a need for organisations to be flexible and be willing to adapt when the unexpected â€“ like a global health crisis â€“ arises.
At Cvent, weâ€™re working hand-in-hand with our clients and remain agile in our approach to help them pivot from in-person events to virtual experiences. Weâ€™ve had clients successfully move their marquee spring conferences to entirely virtual events, and theyâ€™re actually seeing greater attendance than before.
Industry professionals are beginning to understand that virtual events can still drive engagement, uncover new business opportunities and help build a strong sales pipeline. On our part, weâ€™re doing whatever we can to help them maximise these opportunities.
While virtual events donâ€™t involve venue sourcing and onsite planning, they require the same care and attention as an in-person event.
Even with virtual events, you need to effectively promote the event, engage your attendees, create memorable moments for attendees, and prove event success. By thinking of virtual events not as small one-off presentations, but as value-adding, engagement-driven experiences, one can create an impactful event that extends well-beyond a computer screen.
There are four main types of virtual events that weâ€™re seeing around the world right now: Webinars, Virtual Conferences, Internal Hybrid events and External Hybrid events.
Here is a quick low-down on what makes them unique:
- Webinars â€“ Webinars typically last somewhere from 45 to 80 minutes and allow attendees from around the world to join in and listen as a speaker presents their content. However, with shortened attention spans, even 15-20-minute webinars can be impactful. Live Q&A post-webinar drives engagement and offers a more interactive experience.
- Virtual Conferences â€“ Much like in-person conferences, virtual conferences are built around a live, complex agenda that includes keynotes, sessions, breakouts, and more. Virtual conferences allow attendees to view keynotes in real-time, build their own agenda from relevant, on-demand content, and interact with others.
- Internal Hybrid Events â€“ These can be sales kick-offs, company-wide events, trainings, department meetings, and more. For organisations that span the globe, internal hybrid events are used to share a message to the entire company when employees are not all gathered in one place.
- External Hybrid Events â€“ These events are held for those outside of your organisation. They can be user or industry conferences. These events require a higher level of video production so that virtual attendees are provided an experience like in-person events.
So, how does one work towards planning a virtual event and making it a success?
A virtual event is built around great content and attendee engagement; the same things that drive successful in-person events. Itâ€™s just as critical to analyse event data, set business goals, and measure your results against pre-defined metrics.
The value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, but there are times when going virtual is a necessary part of any event programme. Event organisers are a savvy, tough group, and they are looking at this period to identify new opportunities that will help them enhance their event programmes in the future.
The entire industry is adjusting to a new normal, and it is an opportunity for all of us to focus our energy on working together to make the most of the current situation and prepare now for the better times ahead.
As director of sales, Will Kataria oversees Cventâ€™s Asia-Pacific sales of the event management solutions division and the mobile app solutions division. He helps shape the strategy and direction for the Asia-Pacific market in terms of product roadmap, marketing initiatives, operational efficiencies and global expansion.
Kataria started with Cvent in 2006, and currently holds 14 years of industry experience. He was one of the top producing sales reps and helped to expand Cventâ€™s footprint in the Middle East, Africa, UK, Europe and South-east Asia region.