Vaibhav Jain, CEO and founder of Hubilo, addresses the unique aspects of the events scene in Asia Pacific and its shift towards virtual and hybrid events, as well as what's next for the industry as countries open up
Event technology has exploded over the last year. It seems like every day, a new crop of event trends emerges as event providers are inundated with technology choices.
Comparing traditional television with streaming, a print magazine with tablets, or music CDs with Spotify, the next big thing for events will undoubtedly be the hybrid mix of virtual and face-to-face – and more.
Just last year, we made predictions about when the pandemic would end, and in-person meetings would resume. But we did not have the luxury of time to be at a standstill for so long and keep events on hold. This brings us to the 180-degree turn to the virtual when everything was in lockdown, and we had no choice but to leverage on the digital space.
Presently, we are seeing another shift to the hybrid format now that restrictions have eased, and more people are beginning to realise that we need to adapt to the situation we have been dealt with. Many event platforms are also going above and beyond, fully immersing in the technology pool to create unique, immersive, and engaging experiences unlike never before.
In Asia, we are witnessing a stronger appetite for digital or hybrid events – more than twice as likely to have participated in such events than respondents from other regions. Furthermore, nearly 80 per cent of Asia Pacific business events professionals have planned for their in-person and virtual audiences to interact, compared with 27 per cent of North American planners.
The accelerated drive towards embracing the virtual and hybrid, coupled with the booming internet economy and rise of digital natives, gets us excited for what the future has in store for us.
Asynchronous collaboration is the future of events
The when and where of work is no longer one-size-fits-all because the shift to remote work now allows employees to work asynchronous schedules. We are also looking at the rise of a hybrid workplace model based on greater flexibility and more asynchronous communication.
Work is more inclusive for employees who need flexibility, allowing them to work from anywhere and at convenient times.
As a result, the rules of which day and time are best to host an event may no longer apply.
We will now bid adieu to monotonous, one-way interactions, which led to numerous “video fatigue” cases in 2020. As virtual and hybrid event platforms proliferated in 2021, attendees can select the sessions they wish to listen to, network with co-attendees who share the same interests, and even set up meetings with exhibitors when it is convenient for them; not only when it is convenient for event organisers.
As a result, the costs of virtual events were kept low. Rather than needing to capture the attendees’ attention for the entirety of an event, smaller and bite-sized experiences that cater to their interests are far more effective.
A greater demand for immersive experiences
With the advent of innovative virtual event technologies, there are far more applications than just trade shows and conferences. Other large-scale events such as concerts, political rallies, sales kick-offs, town halls, education summits, mental-health seminars, and job fairs can also use event technology to achieve business goals.
The Metaverse has also changed the expectations for event experiences. Raised with immersive worlds like Minecraft and Roblox, Gen Z is leaning towards augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to build connections.
Data analytics and digital fluency have made it possible to create personalised event experiences for attendees and cultivate relationships through communication styles that are wildly different from pure face-to-face communication.
There will also be more possibilities to engage and emerge as virtual and hybrid to create better experiences. It is crucial for events platforms to reimagine the next event and put forth more innovative and engaging solutions to stay ahead of the curve.
These are just a few of the things we expect we will see in the future. The brilliant and creative minds behind event platforms, along with an ecosystem that supports innovative technologies, make nothing impossible.
Vaibhav Jain is the CEO and founder of Hubilo, a global virtual and hybrid event technology company. Under his leadership, Hubilo raised over US$150 million – a Seed round of US$4.5 million, a Series A round of US$23.5 million, and Series B round of US$125 million in less than a year from hedge fund and venture capital firms globally, and the company continues to grow exponentially, internally and geographically.
Jain’s vision is to create a solution that works for every possible industry where content and community can come together beyond the business world.