Virtual events increase inclusivity. And at a time when lockdowns and government restrictions bubble up and down, impacting on the in-person events scene, virtual events have a key role to play. Making sure that people are able to attend and participate in events is more important than ever.
But, don’t worry because virtual events come in all varieties. You can have virtual conferences, product launches, networking sessions, buyer meets, focus groups, awards ceremonies and more besides.
In addition, their beauty is that they open up opportunities for greater inclusivity and diversity.
For a start, delegates can attend and participate in a virtual event from wherever they happen to be as long as they have a web-link. It really is that simple. They can join by using their PC or a device of their choice, such as an iPad or a smartphone.
If the ticket price for virtual event attendance is the only restriction, it’s unlikely to be too much of an obstacle. If the content is compelling enough, attendees will find a way of finding the money. Just having to pay for a ticket rather than travel and housing costs will make a huge difference to some people. They can now attend the virtual event.
Not having to travel provides people with enormous savings in time that they can use in any number of ways. Some people get anxious about travelling and would never have come to an in-person event but now, at the touch of a button, they can enjoy a virtual event without the stress.
To meet people from across the globe without needing to travel is a massive benefit of virtual events. However, whilst there are benefits from networking and meeting new people, inclusivity is also in focus when it comes to learning and business development.
If we look at learning, to begin with, live translation is more important in virtual events. By having delegates from across the globe attending, there is a need to establish if translators are needed. Content translated into specific languages enhances the delegate experience and encourages more people to take part. This in itself encourages diversity of opinion and input. In addition, having captioning through people or AI means that the content can be more fully absorbed. Specific channels for language choices work incredibly well in the virtual world.
Virtual events enable expanded inclusivity when it comes to participation by the more introverted personality types. They can contribute more fully as they are not having to deal with the pressure of in-person events which tend to be more extrovert-dominated.
In terms of business development, most attendees want to meet new suppliers, find new products and information from exhibitors and sponsors. Virtual events offer this and often the process is more targeted and direct. Does this encourage new enquiries? I think it does. Some people don’t like talking to exhibitors in person at a crowded event. But, now they can have a video or phone call direct with the supplier. This is good news for the exhibitors. They are now talking with someone that is truly interested in what they have to offer. And the big bonus is that these people wouldn’t have approached them at an in-person event.
Whether it is networking, learning or business development that attendees want, they can find it with virtual events. Virtual events break down barriers of time and money. The good news is that they are here to stay and they accelerate inclusiveness and diversity.
All of this has to be good for an events sector that has inclusivity and diversity at its heart.
Paul Cook will be moderating a panel on The Future of Venues at IBTM World Virtual this year as part of our IBTM TV content stream.
Find out more here.