In May of 2021, Zoom announced the release of a new virtual event platform, ‘Zoom Events.’ It goes beyond basic videoconferencing functions to help event organisers plan, run, monetize, and promote virtual events. Of course, Zoom Events isn’t the only online event management platform out there, and it was far from being a pioneer in this space. But given how popular Zoom became for businesses and individuals during the 2020 pandemic, Zoom Events will probably become a go-to choice for many in the months to come.
Does the release of the Zoom Events platform herald a new era in virtual event planning? Is it an indication that virtual events are here to stay, and what does it mean for traditional event management companies?
Hosting Virtual Events with Zoom
Zoom Events might prove to be a solid option for companies or organisations that want professional in-house events, or who are already familiar with Zoom. Zoom Events features will help event organisers create a virtual event hub, where they can keep track of all aspects related to their event and promote it to potential attendees.
There will also be a public/private setting for events, so event planners can choose to have their events listed publicly on Zoom, for anyone to join. Zoom Events will also allow for custom ticketing and registration, provide integrated networking for attendees, track event statistics, and control event access from one portal.
Many in the events industry consider Zoom to be a late adopter of virtual event technology. Indeed, many similar platforms such as Whova and Hubilo have been helping event planners and corporate entities run virtual, hybrid, and in-person events for the last several years. Will Zoom Events truly signal a turning point for virtual events, and will it displace some of these well-established event management software?
Zoom Events does fill a certain need, but it won’t be the best solution for everyone. For event planners who want a professional virtual event, software alone won’t be the best solution. Event management companies with experience doing virtual and hybrid events help deliver the most engaging events.
Virtual and Hybrid Events Are Here to Stay
Zoom is banking on the continued popularity of virtual events with its release of Zoom Events. In a global study the company conducted, 80% of US respondents said they expect to keep attending virtual and hybrid events post-pandemic. Even as more people get vaccinated and we see restrictions on gatherings and in-person events loosen, virtual and hybrid events will continue.
Some people may not feel comfortable heading to a large conference centre with 10,000 other people for a long time after Covid. Companies and event organisers have also realised the cost savings virtual and hybrid events bring, with no need to pay for an expensive venue, catering, or offer hotel packages for out-of-town attendees.
New platforms like Zoom Events are further proof that companies and organisers are still interested in hosting virtual events, and that attendees will still participate in them.
How to Keep Virtual Audiences Engaged
In the past, one of the biggest downsides to online events was keeping participants engaged and active in the event. It’s much harder to participate when you’re sitting in front of a screen than when you’re speaking with someone face-to-face.
When the pandemic forced all events to become virtual, however, event managers were also forced to devise better engagement strategies. Taking frequent breaks, soliciting audience participation, keeping the event well-organised, integrating with social networks, and modifying speaking or presentation styles were some of the changes virtual event planners had to adopt to keep audiences engaged.
Without an alternative to virtual events, however, many attendees paid more attention during online events than they had before. Audience retention rates stayed relatively high throughout entire broadcasts – something unusual pre-pandemic. Even if audiences are more willing to pay attention during virtual and hybrid events, event managers should still utilise audience engagement strategies to keep people interested.
The Benefits of Virtual and Hybrid Events
In addition to being more cost-effective, virtual events also present several other advantages. Organisers can reach substantially more people than they could with in-person events because anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can tune in. When people don’t have to take off work or make travel arrangements, they’re more likely to participate in an event online.
Virtual events also don’t require large venues or venues at all. You can host a panel discussion with the panellists calling in from their homes. With hybrid events, you still need a location to broadcast from, but it can be much smaller and more practical than a large conference centre.
How Virtual Events Will Evolve Post-Covid
Virtual and hybrid events aren’t new and they predate the pandemic. But everyone has to stay home for public safety reasons made virtual events a must for companies, organisations, and individuals who want to communicate with their audiences. Post-Covid, we’ll see more hybrid events as they allow a small, in-person gathering with an online element.
Platforms like Zoom Events will make hosting virtual events easier, but they can’t replace event management companies. For those that want professional virtual and hybrid events, event managers with years of experience using event technology and running hybrid events are still the best option.
Sell tickets to your Zoom event with Billetto
If you’re already hosting your events on Zoom and want to sell tickets in your local currency or offer an alternative localised payment method to your event attendees (MobilePay, Klarna, etc), Billetto has a solution for you. We have created an integration with Zapier that allows you to register attendees for your Zoom event after they have purchased a ticket on Billetto. Learn all about it here.
About the contributor
The article was written by Lorenzo Dwyer from Purple Patch Group – an award winning event management company who specialise in corporate events.