Virtual events have been around for years. So too have webinars. While there has long been a vibrant demand for webinars, virtual events have never really taken off – that is, until the advent of covid-19. Now virtual events are on everyone’s mind in the event industry.

Although a webinar may be a significant component of a virtual event, the two are distinctly different. That’s because people attend events for two primary reasons – one is content, the other is networking. Webinars go some way towards addressing content, but they do not begin to address the desire among event attendees to network.

The Appeal of 1-2-1 Meetings

Without doubt, nothing can beat a face-to-face meeting. Your counterpart’s demeanour, gestures and subtle body language communicate much more to you, even subconsciously, than you are going to pick up when talking online. This is especially the case when the other party may not have video or is connecting over a laggy line in jerky robotic motions. Still, if you can’t meet in person, online is the next best thing. The technology gets better by the day and users are becoming more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of their devices.

Typically, many ‘real-world’ business events comprise presentations, workshops, roundtables or break-out sessions, as well as 1‑2‑1 meetings scheduled in advance or during the event. Half-a-day is the minimum length for such events. Most last at least a whole day. Many run for two or three days. Some can span a whole week.

Virtual Events to Mirror Real Events

So won’t people expect virtual events to be similar in format and duration? Delegate Select along with our competitors are betting that they will. You may argue that people can arrange meetings between themselves online without the need to attend an event. But event organisers who can bring a diverse group of people together with a multiplicity of common interests in a virtual environment, for a day or more, and can deliver compelling content, organize stimulating roundtables, and enable participants to schedule meaningful 1-2-1 meetings among themselves, may hit on the winning formula. The only thing missing from the participants’ viewpoint will be the refreshments and finger food, but if the event is well planned, they can always find time in the program to make their own coffee and raid the fridge.

One concern for many in the event industry could be that if covid-19 impacts our lives for too long and virtual events become too slick, people might just decide they’d rather attend events from the comfort of their own desktop than venture out and mingle with the masses!