Atul Todi, CEO, 10times sheds light on how the events industry can come out stronger amidst the COVID-19 outbreak with the convergence of physical and virtual interactive strategies.
Countries have shut down not just their borders, but a movement within their own territories. Businesses have halted and billions of people are stuck at home. No war or calamity has ever had such a massive impact on people and their movement. 2020 is seeing history in the making.
In this mayhem, industries and businesses built on personal engagements have been decimated. The events industry is one such casualty, with its far-reaching impact on related industries like hospitality, travel & tourism, which all needed people to move from one place to another.
In sync with the French epigram plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more it changes, the more it stays the same – the only thing that has stayed the same in the face of endless disruptions throughout the history of human evolution is our ‘survival instinct’. It’s this need to survive and progress, that defines us and drives the entrepreneurial spirit. The same is true during the onslaught of the CoronaVirus. Organizers and event planners around the world are adapting to their new reality of social distancing and exploring ways to stay afloat. But, events are all about in-person communication and trust-building with handshakes. Without direct contact, does it really even have a shot?
For the longest time, most people have believed and erred from even the idea of technology playing a critical role in events. While nothing can replace the value of the in-person meetings, a lot can happen virtually. In circumstances where travel has been blamed across countries and fear has taken over the human psyche, technology-driven solutions are like a ray of hope in a room filled with darkness. Einstein correctly said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” 2020 is one of those difficult times.
On account of worldwide event cancellations and travel bans, people are searching for alternatives to in-person meetings, creating an opportunity for those who are willing to see and accept reality.
A closer look shows that a majority of businesses are being conducted today entirely on the digital realm through cloud-hosted video conferencing. Youth has been quickly adopting video-based engagement solutions like “Happy-Hour” besides the usual Instagram Live. Spread of COVID-19 and a need to survive, has finally pushed many Event organizers to adopt cutting-edge broadcasting and live-streaming solutions to connect participants the world over.
One recent instance is the Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi’s decision to call off its ground-launch events in New Delhi. Instead, it announced that it will be live-streaming the event across its social media platforms. There are thousands of such events to conduct seminars, discussions and product launches.
While going completely virtual is not an option for everyone, and neither is it advisable. There is a lot that can be done virtually that would eventually that would give a life-line to events right now and extended source of revenue and audience once things go back to normal physical format.
For example: in a virtual event, organizers can open up to participation from attendees from around the world. Networking opportunities can be taken to the next level, with more custom matchmaking, background checking to ensure higher relevance for each participant. They can give sponsors & exhibitors, personalized virtual presence in order to monetize. Recorded content can open-up a revenue stream which was earlier only a talking point.
All of the above solutions were critical pain-points for event organizers and participants. Correct implementation of virtual solutions would eventually make away for hybrid events in the future that leverage both virtual and physical formats at the same time. The advantages are multi-fold. Not only this allow organizers to reach out to a larger audience due to the removal of location constraints but also extremely cost-effective due to the fractional cost of virtual venues (live-video hosting).
To conclude, by no means are online or hybrid events a recent phenomenon. They are still to gain significant traction in the larger business ecosystem. According to recent EventMB research, only 33% of the respondents said that their company has hosted a virtual event. But, approximately 70% of the marketers who had already hosted virtual events showed interest in hosting more such events.
Hence, 2020 will not be known for the pandemic alone. it will also be known for being an era when the idea of human contact and communication was re-imagined in the wake of technological advancements. Event Industry was a trillion-dollar industry before the Covid19 pandemic and it might just be even bigger once the ‘virus’ settles down.
This article piece is authored by Atul Todi, Co-Founder & CEO at 10times