This guide covers what virtual and hybrid events are, their expected trends in 2022, and helpful software tools that can enhance these events.
December 13, 2021
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic paired with the rise of innovative technology spurred a shift from in-person events to virtual ones. Organizers have experienced the vast number of benefits from allowing events to be accessed by attendees online, and this trend is expected to continue in 2022. This guide covers what virtual and hybrid events are, their expected trends in 2022, and helpful software tools that can enhance these events.
Virtual events are those in which attendees meet and experience events online rather than meeting in-person at a physical location. Virtual events can be large conferences with thousands of attendees or small sessions with just a few people. While virtual events have been around for years, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic skyrocketed the need for them.
Virtual event types include courses, happy hours, conferences, networking events, concerts, festivals, webinars, and more. Virtual events can also be meshed with an in-person event to form a hybrid event. Hybrid events combine aspects of both types, letting attendees choose to show up in-person or join digitally.
While the future of the pandemic remains uncertain, it is clear that virtual events aren’t going anywhere. According to a LinkedIn survey of 1,800 professionals, organizers of in-person events are predicted to continue delivering “digital twin events”. This means that one or more components of their in-person events will be available to online attendees.
It also found that 42% of in-person event organizers will continue searching for virtual event services to improve sustainability. In-person events often involve the use of consumables like plastic, and they require people to use transportation to get to and from events. By letting people attend online, companies can create more sustainable events.
Before we dive into trends, it’s important to understand how hybrid events work. Hybrid events give companies the option to host in-person events while also letting people attend online.
The main benefit of hybrid events is flexibility. By setting up a hybrid event, companies ensure their event is hedged against risks. For example, if there are last-minute restrictions to public health guidelines, event organizers can easily pivot to an all-virtual event. This is also helpful if there are issues with the event venue.
Another benefit of hybrid events is the added reach organizers can have. Every venue has capacity limits, and travel expenses can cause people to decide against attending. For example, people in the U.S. face significant barriers to attending an event in London. A hybrid event allows organizers to fill up a venue while also broadcasting to millions of others around the world.
Virtual and hybrid events also give organizers better access to event data. By hosting an event virtually, organizers have more detailed information on how their content is being consumed. Organizers of in-person events don’t get the same access to this information.
A study by Event Manager Blog indicates that 71% of event organizers will continue implementing digital strategies even when in-person events are completely back to normal.
The following are some predicted trends for virtual events in 2022.
Physical events give organizers the opportunity to charge for tickets, food, drinks, merchandise, and more. Only 9% of virtual events were paid events in 2021, and virtual event ticket prices averaged only 20% of the price of in-person event tickets. Therefore, organizers will need to find better ways to monetize virtual events going forward.
Virtual event sponsor expectations are changing going into 2022. Sponsors are encouraging an increased investment in digital event aspects and less investment in physical event aspects. They also expect a better understanding of ROI statistics from both virtual and physical attendees, which increases the importance of having helpful analytics tools.
Because the Covid-19 pandemic is still a large concern, events are expected to continue high safety regulations going into 2022. Mask mandates, specialized cleaning crews, air-filtration systems, socially-distanced events, pre-screening requirements, and proof of vaccination of negative tests will continue to influence events. Safety concerns will also continue the trend towards offering virtual event options to online attendees.
There will also be a greater need for virtual event software that can do the following.
For help increasing your audience engagement, setting up user profiles, and enhancing your virtual or hybrid event experience, consider using one of Arena’s helpful software tools. Arena is trusted by thousands of customers like Swoogo and Cloud Conventions to help them run their hybrid and virtual events.
Arena Live Chat is a tool that can be seamlessly integrated with your virtual or hybrid event. With this live chat tool, you can let attendees interact with each other, ask questions, and respond to polls during your event. With this tool, online attendees can share ideas and give feedback as if they were attending the event in-person.
Organizers can also enhance their virtual or hybrid event using Arena Live Blog. A live blog tool lets you share quick updates as your event unfolds. This tool lets you share maps, live scores, videos, text, images, and more. This ensures your online attendees are kept informed about speakers, interviews, ideas shared, and other details relevant to your event.
Due to increased restrictions on cookies and data privacy, companies must find new creative ways to understand their customers. A customer data platform (CDP) fills this need by collecting data from different touch points and creating unique customer profiles. Event organizers can pair Arena CDP with its live chat and live blog tools to understand customer journeys and preferences.
For more information on how to create an unforgettable virtual event experience, check out our free eBook.
If you want a comprehensive guide covering what to say during an event, we also have an eBook with live event scripts.
For those who want to learn how to get the best results using live ecommerce, check out our guide.
Public health concerns, innovative technology, and the recent success of virtual events have created a shift away from in-person-only events. Virtual and hybrid events offer increased flexibility, better access to data, and greater attendee reach. These events are expected to continue into 2022, and several new trends are expected to come to fruition.
To improve the experience of your virtual or hybrid event, consider adding one of Arena’s software tools. Tools like Arena Live Chat, Live Blog, and CDP encourage attendee interaction, keep attendees engaged, and secure insightful attendee analytics. For more information on improving your live events, download our free eBook by clicking the link below.