At the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, businesses largely shifted to virtual events, seeking solutions for keeping customers, partners and team members connected and engaged.
With FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccines, business leaders are wondering if a return to face-to-face events may also be around the corner.
Demand for streaming solutions over the last decade, as it relates to events (and other industries), experienced very strong growth year over year leading up to 2020,” said Bill Mott, CEO of Falcon Events. “Then, due to the pandemic, the streaming industry exploded and experienced exponential growth over the last 18 months – and all signs point to a continued steady rise in demand.”
A tech-service company, Falcon Events (3001 Gateway Drive, Suite 130, Irving, TX) has streamed over 50,000 hours of event-based content during the pandemic to millions of viewers. Falcon collaborates with businesses of all sizes and across a range of industries.
As business leaders think about planning future events during the pandemic, Mott and COO Joshua Butler suggest they consider:
Engagement – During the pandemic, virtual events attracted much larger audiences than ever before. “If events want to keep these new, large crowds, then they must include a virtual component moving forward,” Butler said.
Comfort – As in-person events resume, the digital norms attendees and speakers have become accustomed to are likely to continue. From checking in and getting help to viewing content and professional networking, the majority of event interactions will remain digital. The difference is that digital connections will occur in a physical venue.
“There will also be speakers who continue to choose to present virtually,” said Butler. “And, there will always be attendees who prefer to participate from the comfort of their homes.”
Safety – As new reports emerge about new virus variants, scientists say it is likely new COVID-19 vaccines could be introduced annually – similar to the flu vaccine.
Event planners will have to consider what the expectations will be for attendees, said Butler. Will they need to have a shot each year to attend? To fly? Will attendees feel safe in crowded exhibit halls and hallways? Does attending pose a risk for exposure to the virus?
Interaction – Does your business rely on the ability of attendees to physically touch, see or use your products? Is that interaction important for all users or only for a smaller segment, such as your most qualified buyers, users or VIPs?
If so, Butler asks, could those attendees be ‘digital attendees’ first with in-person interaction as an add-on?
Economics – If cities continue to limit the size of in-person gatherings, does that change the economics of the events business? When reviewing budgets, Butler says event planners should weigh what they are willing to spend on staging and AV if the vast majority of their audience has to view the event on a smaller screen, in compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
The Future is Digital
“The digital event is now king, and decisions will be made for the foreseeable future, based on creating the best digital experience,” Butler said. “Whether to include in-person activities in your future event will depend greatly on how important they are to your business or association.”
As streaming technologies continue to evolve, business leaders will have even more to offer in virtual events. Mott says livestream latency will continue to get shorter, quality will improve and browser-based technology will close the gap on app-based technology, with respect to video conferencing platforms. “This will increase the adoption in the government and medical space,” he said.
Users can also expect:
- Improvements in viewer engagement and gamification, making event streaming more interactive for attendees
- Video conferencing and live streaming at scale will start to merge
- Conferences and corporate events will always have a virtual component, and they will be called hybrid events
- Audio-visual production companies will shift their focus to streaming experiences instead of core AV components, focusing on creating content for the web audience first, as opposed to the onsite audience
- AV production will be streamlined with NDI technology, connecting via Ethernet cables instead of miles of random cables. Cat6 cables will connect projectors, lights, microphones, cameras, video switchers and everything in between
- Chat, already a dominant form of communication in normal life and preferred with many modern individuals, will gain more use in retail and support systems with the rise of AI-based chat
In the future, Mott said he expects holograms and telepresence to take off. “Think of it as Zoom on steroids,” said Mott. “Users will look 3D, and the display technology will make it seem like you are talking to someone face to face.”
About FALCON EVENTS
Falcon Events produces a wide range of virtual experiences, from large medical and technology conferences to corporate town halls and keynote addresses. Falcon provides end-to-end event streaming solutions, audio-visual production, video platform choice and setup, as well as marketing and consulting services. Industries benefiting from Falcon Events services include: Film Festivals, Arts, Education, Healthcare, Technology, Government, Non-Profits, Real Estate, Conservation, Marketing, Legal, Cultural, Agriculture and Food & Beverage. Falcon has facilitated continued communication and advances in technology by allowing canceled events around the world to approximate their scheduled gatherings as planned…virtually.
These were the organizations with events from last week:
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Association of Law Libraries
Coming up, Falcon Events hosts:
- National Association for Gifted Children
- Crimes Against Women Conference
- MIT Media Lab
- Canadian Cardiovascular Society