Even with the return of in-person events (and the demand is huge!), virtual events are here to stay. Signals in the market and my own company data both show many companies are planning to host even more online events in 2022 than they did in 2021.
According to a global survey by Kaltura, at least 48% of organizations planned to host more virtual events. Moreover, many companies foresee virtual events continuing into 2023 and beyond with many planning to host completely digital or hybrid events.
Here are four reasons why virtual events are increasing in 2022.
Virtual events are more convenient. Everyone from audience members to event planners to keynote speakers finds virtual events more convenient to schedule and attend than in-person events. According to Kaltura, 84% of respondents wanted the option of attending a virtual or hybrid event.
Virtual events also have easier logistics. No travel is necessary, no visas are needed, and there's never a problem with missed planes, traffic, parking, or lost reservations at the hotel. Events can be set up weeks in advance rather than months. Attendees can also join any event the day of.
It turns out audience members really like online events. This is partly because the events have improved over the course of the pandemic. According to the Kaltura global survey, 73% of audience members were satisfied with the virtual experience and 93% felt event companies did a good job transitioning from in-person events to online events.
Moreover, many event companies (such as mine) have received feedback that audiences enjoy virtual events because they find them more intimate than in-person events. Often, attendees get to see a speaker in a more relaxed environment, in their home office. Audience members feel they get to know the speaker better as a person because they can see family photos on their desk and the books they read on their shelves.
Finally, attending online means an audience member has the best seat in the house. Every person is in the front row and can view the speaker up close on their own personal screen.
Another attractive benefit of virtual events is the lower cost to produce and attend. For event planners, there's no need to rent a venue, book hotel space for guests, or pay for speaker travel. Great keynote speakers are also more affordable because they charge less to appear on a virtual stage than in-person.
Likewise, keynote speakers have also found their lower fees allow them to book more virtual events and to do more events globally. Some keynote speakers even increased their income by doing virtual events.
Finally, audience members like virtual events because the price to attend is less and they don't have to pay for flights, hotels, parking, or meals. Likewise, they can attend more events per year.
Audiences find the online content more engaging. According to Kaltura, audiences like the chance to learn. While in-person events have been driven largely by the chance to network, virtual events have provided more chances to learn about a company through product demos or to engage with topic experts in Q&A sessions.
Surprisingly, we're observing and learning, virtual events are not only here to stay, but there will also be more of them in 2022 and beyond. Audiences and event planners alike have found them to be more convenient, more enjoyable, less expensive, and with more engaging content.