As the second wave of Covid-19 caused stricter measures to be put in place all over Europe, conferences were among the first events to be restricted. This posed a problem both to event organisers and to companies and professionals in all industries, who need to gather to debate new projects, present research, coordinate efforts, and plan future action. Luckily, virtual events have progressed enormously over the past year and they allow for highly complex and interactive experiences. Our partner platform Hypersmarter has been offering excellent virtual conferences to its clients and managing to keep this branch going despite the restrictions currently in place in several countries.
Why do companies organise virtual conferences?
Why does anyone organise a conference in the first place? The main reason is to connect with a specific audience, be it on a local, national, or global level, in order to engage it in a debate. All enterprises and organisations need to do this at more or less regular intervals and their need was not affected by the current crisis. Hence the rising popularity of virtual conferences, which provide a viable and accessible alternative to traditional events. As well as the typical formats, involving lectures and panels, many other kinds of sessions can be added to a well-organised virtual conference, such as networking sessions and meetings. The main goal is to ensure the continued interaction between stakeholders of a specific branch or industry. In fact, virtual conferences allow organisers to expand their audience, making their event accessible even to those who, under normal circumstances, could not afford or would be otherwise unable to attend.
How do we work together, if we must stay apart?
Event streaming is not exactly a new concept: we have been able to do that for some time. The real game-changer, for platforms like Hypersmarter, was fluid and life-like interaction. A highly interactive platform allows communication within the conference to flow in all directions, rather than broadcasting it from a speaker or panel to a connected audience. Virtual conferences now offer a variety of digital environments, primed for different kinds of interactions besides the classical broadcasting model. Users can now talk to each other either in public or privately, they can attend meetings reserved for a limited number of people, they can chat privately and arrange meetings, and they can take part in panels, asking questions to keynote speakers.
Will all conferences be virtual in the future?
No, they won’t: we still need close human interactions and we will go back to that as soon as it is safe to do so. It is safe to say, however, that even “normal” conferences won’t be the same. Like all revolutions, virtual events are going to influence what comes afterward. In many respects, digital events have proven to carry plenty of added value to the traditional formats. Users have access to much more information, for instance, without the need to print out brochures and press folders – which is both costly and unsustainable. It’s easy to predict that, having accustomed themselves to download rich, highly informative multimedia content, attendees won’t choose to go back to having to carry heavy briefcases and bring back large folders. Moreover, integrating digital and virtual elements into traditional conferences will allow access to wider audiences, removing logistic and financial barriers for many potential attendees.
One of the reasons behind the success of virtual events is the measurability of the results they yield. All interactions are traceable and it is easy to analyse each section separately, assessing which features were most successful, which proved harder to use or were ignored, studying user behaviour, and coming up with workable models to improve future conferences.