In its research, EventMB identified five key planner trends when it comes to embracing a balanced hybrid event strategy with a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual events.
This article is based on content included in the 2022 edition of the EventMB Virtual Event Tech Guide, a valuable resource for all event professionals who understand and appreciate the value of virtual event technology and want to be on the cutting edge. Download your free copy by clicking here.
How Virtual Event Technology is Used is Changing
As lockdowns, travel restrictions, limits on gathering size, and mask mandates are lifted across much of the globe, the role of virtual events has begun to shift in the overall event strategy for planners.
While once a necessity, 38 percent of planners said that the primary use of virtual events was to reach a wider audience, with only 17 percent of respondents saying that virtual event technology was part of a backup plan in case their in-person events had to pivot.
Many have emerged from the pandemic with more respect for online and hybrid events, however, 21 percent see virtual event technology as a “necessary platform,” with virtual events remaining their “go-to event strategy.” For others, it’s part of a year-round engagement strategy (13 percent), and only 12 percent said that the technology wasn’t part of their strategy at all.
Event Tech Budgets Are Increasing
With the overall decreased focus on virtual events, you might expect that budgets for these events are going down across the board. Interestingly, the majority of respondents are seeing their virtual event technology budgets staying the same or increasing.
Thirty-four percent expect them to stay the same, 19 percent expect them to become slightly higher, and 12 percent expect them to become much higher. It could be that many organizations recognize the ROI online events can offer, but still want to prioritize the in-person experience.
Only 26 percent expected the budgets for these events to go down. A further 10 percent said that the question wasn’t applicable — suggesting that just under one in ten respondents are not currently investing in virtual event technology at all.
Mid-Range Budgets Most Attractive
When it comes specifically to hybrid events, one of the concerns we hear most often from our readership comes down to cost. For this reason, our survey framed the question of hybrid event priorities in terms of budget ranges. The largest share of respondents (40 percent) said that they were prioritizing “A mid-budget all-in-one event tech solution that will prevent remote attendees from feeling like second-class participants.”
Even after more than two years of honing their skills, planners still face challenges when it comes to their virtual event technology. The majority said that they struggle with offering both the in-person and remote audiences a comparable experience (58 percent). As might be expected, budgets came in as the next biggest issue, with 44 percent indicating cost as one of their top challenges.
Thiry-nine percent selected “Delivering sponsor value,” and 34 percent also selected “Finding ways to monetize virtual participation.” Maintaining year-round communities (18 percent) and competing with other virtual or hybrid events (23 percent) are also issues.
Budget Influences Event Format Choices
To get a sense of how much budget plays a role in decisions around event format choices, we asked our survey respondents what they would do with extra funds if they became available. Just over 50 percent of planners said that if their budget increased next year, they would like to invest in better event technology. A further 21 percent of the planners said they would use the funds to add virtual event technology to what is now a fully in-person event strategy. This suggests that a significant share of those who are not currently hosting hybrid events might consider them in the future if more money becomes available.
Download your free copy of the 2022 EventMB Virtual Event Tech Guide.