The onset of the global pandemic in early 2020 disrupted every facet of our world. Businesses and employees were unprepared for this onslaught and were forced to make drastic changes in the way they conduct business. Almost a year later, we are still facing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and are far from returning to normalcy. It comes as no surprise that the pandemic also turned the events industry upside down.
Impact of the Pandemic on the Events Industry
As CDC enforced social distancing norms in the US to control the spread of the virus, large in-person events had to be canceled. Several states also put restrictions on public gatherings and closed venue sites. Some businesses that could not handle these changes folded while others started exploring alternative options like online events.
Today, virtual events have taken a front row as protecting the health of clients, vendors, and employees is a priority. Aventri has been providing a virtual event platform to help thousands of brands globally transform how they plan, promote, execute and analyze their virtual, hybrid, or in-person events.
Recommended Resource: Discover how making the investment to go virtual or adding a virtual component to your in-person event can help you achieve your goals, enhance engagement and discover another powerful tool to add to your event planning toolkit. Read our Virtual & Hybrid Events Guide.
Virtual events have proved to be a useful way to continue holding events without compromising on safety. They provide valuable benefits like lower operation costs and easy to handle logistics since there is no travel, hotel accommodation, or catering involved. Besides, virtual events allow both speakers and attendees to enjoy convenience and flexibility when attending the event through the comforts of their home.
Challenges with Virtual Events
The pivot to virtual events is surely helping businesses continue their operations. However, virtual events have brought in their own set of challenges. Steve Yellen, the Vice President of Product Strategy at Aventri mentions that over the past year, event organizers have been adjusting to the new environment but in many cases remain skeptical if their decision to switch to virtual offerings was the right choice.
One of the biggest challenges posed by virtual events is audience engagement. As the guests are not physically present at the location and open to a myriad of distractions, it is hard to keep them engaged. Steve mentions that he has seen businesses realize over the past few months that it requires a lot of effort and focus on engagement to keep attendees focused and provide them a valuable experience.
Also, attendees prefer a product which is easy to use, like an intuitive platform that provides a good overall impression. Marketers themselves have been looking for a modern platform that can help them brand their events.
The Changing Environment in Events Industry
The Product Strategy team at Aventri, led by Steve Yellen, has been closely observing the changes in the events market.. Steve summarizes that since the pandemic began, there has been an evolution of virtual event requirements . Businesses initially pivoted to virtual offerings by getting their feet wet and doing their first few events in the summer and fall of 2020 on a small scale. Now, event organizers have become more comfortable handling events that involve more than 5000 or 10,000 attendees.
Recommended Resource: Read our latest blog post and learn why it’s essential to have a fully integrated event management platform, that can handle events of all types to help your organization move forward.
As businesses are becoming experienced in handling large-scale events, Steve has observed that marketers and organizers have a more concrete idea about what they want and have developed more formalized requirements and event strategies. The team at Aventri understands these changing needs and has revamped their virtual event platform to support clients in adjusting to the new environment.
Revamp of Aventri’s Virtual Event Platform 2.0
Aventri is all set to roll out Virtual 2.0, an upgraded version of their virtual events platform in Spring 2021. This upgraded version of the Virtual Event Platform will come with improved engagement tools, a modernized user interface (UI) and enhanced user experience (UX), more networking capabilities, and new sponsorship opportunities. Some of the key highlights of Virtual 2.0 include:
Networking and Matchmaking
Virtual 2.0 will provide attendee matchmaking (networking recommendations) that can match attendees based on mutual interests. This will facilitate a structured environment to help businesses promote networking through their live and virtual meetings. These smarter event matchmaking and networking solutions including group video chat are also bound to give attendees the power to reach their business goals.
A major portion of the audience attending events is on the lookout for networking opportunities in all shapes and sizes. Marketers and organizers need to realize that engaging with other attendees and engaging with the event organizer themselves lies at the core of networking. Virtual 2.0 will provide newer capabilities that can open up new avenues for attendee engagement. Steve explains that product team has made great strides to improve the platform's engagement capabilities, whether it's polling, Q&A, or receiving notifications, social feeds,all interactivity in the platform will be improved for a smoother cleaner experience for attendees and organizers to achieve their business objectives.
Monetization and Sponsorship
Monetization has always been important to marketers and event organizers, long before virtual events. As the market changes, businesses are thinking of ways to offer sponsors and exhibitors the capabilities to get value out of the event and monetize themselves as organizers. Virtual 2.0 will provide businesses with tools for more formal sponsorship capabilities through lead generation opportunities in virtual booths. Steve explains Virtual 2.0 will have improved sponsorship features and now offer different capabilities such as adding sponsorship logos to different areas of the event, as well as sponsorship notifications that can be sent out to every attendee notifying them when a session or an overview of a new product will begin. Steve goes on to further explain that Virtual 2.0 newest enhancements will enable event organizers to create and monetize numerous sponsorship packages that they can then offer their event sponsors. For example, organizers can offer event level or session level sponsorship or both allowing them to easily give sponsors value and show the value of the event to the sponsors.
Virtual Event Booth
As attendees can no longer walk around physical trade shows, Aventri has provided virtual event booths to incentivize through clicks, conferencing, and more. Exhibitors and sponsors can configure virtual booths and interact with attendees via video conferencing or chat sessions. Steve explains Virtual 2.0 has increased capabilities of doing exhibitions or virtual booths and attendees can very easily come in and enter a virtual booth and have a fully immersive interactive experience as if they were onsite at an in-person event. In addition to this, Virtual 2.0 will enable the people running the virtual booths to do a great job of capturing leads and information about the leads that come in. Enabling them to better understand their interest and being able to turn that information into something that they can go back and monetize.
Recommended Resource: Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, but there is no reason why they should not be able to offer a comparable experience to real-world events. Learn how event sponsors and exhibitors can utilize virtual booths to recreate face-to-face interactions with their attendees at virtual and hybrid events.
Modern UI and UX
Larger Event Size
As the industry matures and businesses start organizing larger and larger events, the platform is all set to support clients to do the same. The latest version will provide a full-service platform that can handle every aspect of registration, streaming live sessions, event reporting, ROI analysis, and event management for larger event sizes up to and above 20,000.
Virtual 2.0 will be available for businesses starting April 2021. Steve Yellen and the entire team at Aventri are excited to roll out Virtual 2.0. Steve summarizes, “At Aventri, we are always listening to our customers, and we’ve basically watched the market evolve and have evolved our platform accordingly.” If you are not yet on the Aventri platform, join today and change how you plan and execute your meetings and events while tracking and improving your business objectives.