Virtual Events: Not Just a Pandemic Fad

Virtual events will continue well beyond the pandemic. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and a half, this won’t come as a shock

Ah, 2020. The year that “virtual” became shorthand for work and entertainment, and organizers scrambled to recreate meaningful in-person experiences online. Say what you will, but those who hustled to get us online kept companies, families, and life going through a heckin’ uncertain time—and they did such a great job of connecting us that even grandma’s a video conferencing pro.

Now that the world is opening back up, you might be wondering: just how long-term is this technological shift in the way we live, work, and party? We pulled together some stats from the past year to learn more about the impact of this virtual revolution, and to predict what events might look like in the future. Here’s what we know…

More businesses pivoted to virtual events than ever before

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and a half, this won’t come as a shock. All live events went kaput, and it was “survival of the pivot” for businesses who wanted to stay alive. Virtual events became the default in 2020 and early 2021.

  • 85% of event marketers worldwide organized a virtual event in 2020
  • 51% ran their first virtual experience in 2020
  • 28% pivoted entirely to virtual events

Despite challenges, virtual events were a success

Like learning any new skill, planning and executing virtual events for the first time is no walk in the park. Although many found the transition difficult, a whopping number of event organizers said their virtual events were successful.

  • 53% described virtual event management as challenging
  • Confidence in hosting virtual events increased from 21% at the beginning of the pandemic to 65% after three months
  • 92% said their online experiences were successful

We’re still learning

When it comes to virtual event technology, organization, and content creation, we’re still noobs.

  • 42% want more technical knowledge of event platforms
  • 39% want to learn how to increase engagement at virtual events
  • 37% want to improve the visual experience
  • 35% want to improve budgeting skills around virtual events

Virtual events aren’t going anywhere...

Virtual events are better than ever, and that means that the way we do events has changed for good. Companies say that, even after the pandemic, they’ll keep running events online.  

  • 85% say virtual events are here to stay
  • 75% say they plan to continue organizing virtual events beyond the next 12 months
  • 58% planned to increase their spend on online experiences in 2021

...But neither are live events

Heard of virtual event fatigue? We’re willing to bet you’re familiar with it—and the data says that both attendees and organizers are looking forward to returning to events IRL.

  • 83% of remote American workers say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions
  • 78% said they plan to attend as many or more live events when it’s safe to do so
  • 71% say they look forward to attending large events again

Our predictions—drumroll, please: There will be more hybrid events in our future.

We can’t just ignore what the people want (we know, we checked). At the same time, companies can’t shell out enormous amounts of time and resources to host both live and virtual events. The happy medium? We predict that more events will shift to a hybrid model that combines live, in-person experiences and virtual ones.

Want to learn more about hybrid events? We have LOTS to say about it on our blog.

The biggest future challenges: interest and engagement.

If you’re a fast learner who can keep up with new virtual event technology, these challenges will likely be temporary. The bigger challenge: keeping attendees engaged while fighting off that darn virtual event fatigue.

Need some help planning an engaging virtual event? We’ve got a few tips for you here.

In short, we’re still smack in the middle of the virtual event revolution. It’s evolving as we speak, and we still have quite a ride ahead of us—so buckle up!

What do you think? Are we onto something—or do you think we’re way off-base? We’d love to hear your own insights from these stats, or feel free to share your own studies, anecdotes, or thoughts below!

Virtual Events: Not Just a Pandemic Fad