Innovatoin & Technology

Innovatoin & Technology
Virtual & hybrid event trends - looking to the future with IMS
Allowing those taking part to meet in person but also communicate with those who cannot be there in person
Catriona Tierney, IMS
IHF Associate Member

The event and meetings industry was one of the hardest hit during the Covid 19 pandemic, but thanks to a lot of preparation, training, and creativity, the sector not only adapted and prevailed, they innovated and excelled. Instead of giving up in the face of adversity, they ended up achieving more in one year than probably would have come about in the next 5-10 years if it hadn’t been for the global health crisis.

Since March 2020, IMS established itself as a leader in Virtual Event Hosting embracing the new norm by shifting from in-person events to virtual online ones. We also recognised that this new technology was not merely a necessary evil or a passing phase but an exciting way forward and a fantastic opportunity for the industry to evolve.

Now with vaccinations ramping up and a light at the end of the tunnel in sight, many industry players are left wondering what is the future for hybrid and virtual events?

The landscapes of events, conferences, and meetings are always constantly changing and this was simply accelerated by the Covid crisis with companies changing with the technology introduced to them by companies like IMS. In the past event management was mostly done offline because organisers felt that face-to-face contact was superior but the worldwide health emergency has shone a spotlight on the many benefits of digital online events.

With things having to change practically overnight, companies began to see it was possible to host an event that is interactive, informative, and engaging without having to travel across the country or abroad. Of course, face-to-face meetings and events will eventually return, but they will never be exactly the same and the newly introduced elements of hybrid events will remain as clients now see that things can often be organised more quickly and cost-efficiently online.

Continued restrictions on large groups and travel mean that many organisations will retain the virtual format for the foreseeable future while keeping the best parts of the online experience going forward. It will still take some time until things will be operating at full capacity which means business, entertainment, sporting, and charity events will still have to operate on some level of hybrid meetings for the time being. Event managers and venue hosts have now also recognised that with the hybrid model you are not limited to the size of a physical venue which opens up a lot more possibilities.

The best of both worlds….

These new types of integrated events will give companies the chance to reach and engage with new and larger audiences, but doing this takes an overhaul of the perceived norm with new technology and digital training at the forefront and that’s where IMS comes in.

Preparation is key

Over the last year, IMS has utilised its skilled team and the expertise of its business partners to ensure that clients stayed connected. This meant providing state-of-the-art technology and equipment alongside expert training and online solutions to help organisations and groups connect with each other in exciting new ways.

Hybrid events allow those taking part to meet in person but also communicate with those who cannot be there in person. This can be done through video, audio, and virtual content sharing in an exciting new way of communicating, taking the best of traditional event management, and adding the skills learned during the lockdown.

Speaking about the future of events, IMS CEO Shane Hartigan said “These fantastic new technologies and products were always coming down the line, the Covid crisis only served to speed up the process and make us all more prepared for the future”. ”Thanks to teaming up with companies like Zoom meant IMS could create new innovative ways to host events and conferences and virtual classrooms, and this type of technology is here to stay” he explained.

Companies are now realising that in addition to reaching more people at their virtual events they can also record and keep any content to be used again in the future.

Research helping to creating new knowledge – Around the world event companies are also eager to find out what the new face of meetings will look like and one event marketing platform Splash in the US has done some detailed research on what the future might look like when it comes to virtual and hybrid events in the coming years. After surveying 270 event specialists and over 3,000 professionals from various industries in the US, Splash found the following:

  • 43% of companies moved all their events to virtual and are hosting more virtual events than they had originally planned.
  • 79% of companies say that they now expect to host events that include an online segment even once in person events return.
  • Plus fewer than 7% of event attendees said they believe virtual events should be longer than an hour showing the desire for smaller, shorter events, with many of those surveyed believing that virtual events should be smaller in size and ideally last around 30 minutes or less so as to keep the audience attention.

Your virtual guide

While the industry has been resilient to the challenges Covid created, at IMS even as things return slowly to pre-pandemic times, we will continue to move forward and look to the future.

Hybrid events are now a vital part of the industry in some shape or form and we are happy to help you navigate this new landscape as your virtual/hybrid technology partner.

We can help you create a more consolidated event programme with the best technology at the forefront for large or small events, virtual or in-person events either in-house or externally. We can help create a platform where you can engage with attendees and sponsors and get all the information you need.

So if you’d like us to help you to set your event up for successBook Your Virtual Event Now

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