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The Future of: Online Events

In the first quarter of 2021, LinkedIn reported that 75% of event marketers worldwide stated that they plan to continue running virtual events in the long term. Additionally, they reported that a typical event marketer plans to run more virtual events (40%) than in-person ones (34%).

An online event being viewed on a laptop, where a man writes on a blackboard.

So, are online events here to stay? It seems so. Therefore, if you’re an event professional, we recommend that you continue reading to discover what the future of online events is. A good grasp of the event landscape is essential, in order to navigate this transition period between in-person, hybrid, and online gatherings, and hold effective industry-leading events.


Are People More Likely to Attend an Event In-Person or Online?

A man addresses a lecture room in front of a whiteboard.

Are online events preferred by attendees? If you host a hybrid event, will you have more online or offline attendees?


In July 2020, SpeakerFlow reported that 41% of event planners and 27% of suppliers said they wouldn’t travel for an event within the next year.


Now, July 2020 was when we all seemed to be assuming (or wishfully thinking) that the pandemic would probably be over by the end of the year. If, even back then, people were insisting that they wouldn’t be travelling to any in-person 2021 events, should we be expecting people to attend in-person events now or in future?


There might be a difference here with regards to age – a study by RoxEventStaff found that while 72% of respondents preferred face-to-face events, these were especially preferred by attendants between the ages of 16 and 24. Therefore, if you host CPD events with an older audience, you may be able to assume that you’ll get more attendees online. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a knowledge event that you’re targeting towards younger trainees in your industry, or a postgraduate event, then you should look to ensure that you have engaging in-person aspects that are worth travelling to.


In terms of virtual event attendance statistics, despite face-to-face events being somewhat preferred, online events still get more attendees. For instance, Bizzabo found that 80% of event organisers have reached a wider audience from hosting online events. This is probably because of how easy online events are to attend – people will still have more readiness to attend online than in-person, even if they do prefer the latter method of attendance, because they are easier to do so.


Therefore, we expect online events, and online portions of hybrid events, to continue to experience higher attendance than in-person, due to people now knowing they can rely on attending online.


More Opportunities For Engagement

Different people in an online event like a Zoom call interact.

As online events become more commonplace, they are evolving to include more and more engagement opportunities.


For instance, your online attendees can also communicate with your in-person attendees by posting messages, including questions. Your online events can therefore become renowned for allowing people in your industry to network with a wider variation of people and enjoy more fruitful and productive knowledge-sharing. Even in the days, weeks and years after your event, bespoke and branded recordings of them can be shared. These could be edited in different ways to highlight different aspects of your event, and participants will still be able to exchange comments, ask questions, and “like” them.


When online events such as Zooms were first introduced, they were renowned for being less productive, and quite disheartening or even anxiety-inducing to have to attend. Now, thanks to Zooms being replaced with higher quality online events, such events are reaching their full potential. They can be marketed in a much more engaging and inventive way. Thanks to this, event marketing is an even bigger part of online events, and the landscape may become even more competitive in terms of having to develop more creative ways to allow for audience interaction.


This is certainly a challenge – 18% of companies surveyed by Amex Global Business Travel stated that a lack of engagement is a top challenge of virtual meetings. So, are you prepared to take advantage of these engagement opportunities? 40% of companies in the same survey stated that a lack of experience was their top challenge, so do you need an online event production team to help you? Contact CPD Online here if so.


More Opportunities for Sponsorship

Event organiser shakes hands with a sponsor above some documents on a table

Online events, including the online portions of hybrid events, allow for much more attendees. You can reach much more people when your events are online as well as in-person, and sponsors know that. This explains why 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in sponsoring hybrid events. They expect to reach a much larger audience.


However, in terms of hybrid events, these sponsors expect to reach both sets of audiences – in-person and online. Therefore, event managers must ensure that they are offering several sponsorship channels to make these events profitable and ensure that online events are here to stay. These sponsorship channels might include sponsored virtual chats, and digital branding, in addition to the usual onsite swag and sponsored, branded booths and decorations.


Are Online Events Becoming Cheaper?

A man works at a laptop and makes notes

As it’s easier for events to garner larger online audiences, online events have typically been cheaper to hold. They allow event managers to sell much more tickets to a wider range of people, without having to pay for refreshments to feed them or for a larger venue to accommodate them. Therefore, online events have typically had a bigger profit margin.


But are online event costs changing?


In terms of broadcasting your event to an online audience, livestreaming used to be significantly more expensive as they were quite a novelty. However, as they become more commonplace and more and more livestreaming suppliers are promoting their businesses, prices have been reducing and therefore your costs may continue to reduce – especially as companies know that if their prices are too high, you may prefer to rely on Zoom instead. Online event managers are therefore more able to to obtain flexible quotes.


Furthermore, evidence shows that online event attendees want the events they attend to be shorter than in-person events. This is due to dwindling attention spans, especially as it is quite hard to pay attention to a full-length event and retain knowledge when it is all shown to you via a screen and other distractions can get in the way. With events most likely becoming more and more easily digestible over time, this may help event costs to decrease. You don’t have to pay as many speakers for as many sessions.


However, if you need assistance in making the knowledge content from your events easier to assimilate so online audiences can view shorter clips, without having to reduce the overall length of the in-person session, get CPD Online to record your next event.


Conclusion


Overall, we believe that in future, online events will continue to experience high number of attendees due to the low effort required to attend compared to in-person ones. They will also become more engaging, increasing competition between event managers. Sponsorships will become more available as we see new opportunities for sponsorship channels, and the prices to hold these events will remain fairly low for the near future.


What do you think about our conclusions? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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