Virtual events startups have high hopes for after the pandemic – TechCrunch

by Joseph K. Clark

Few people thought of virtual events before the pandemic struck, but this format has fulfilled a unique and important need for companies and organizations large and small during the pandemic. But what will virtual events’ value be as more of the world attempts to return to life before COVID-19?

To find out, we caught up with top executives and investors in the sector to learn about the big trends they’re seeing — as the sequel to this survey we did in March 2020.

Certain use cases have been proven, they say. Today, numerous small niche events available year-round might have been buried behind a larger in-person conference before 2020. For organizations, internal virtual affairs can also be instrumental in helping connect and promote engagement for remote-first teams.

However, some respondents acknowledged that low-quality virtual events are growing increasingly common, and everyone agreed that much more work is needed.


We surveyed:

Xiaoyin Qu, founder, and CEO, of Run The World

With the pandemic hopefully becoming more manageable soon, do you feel a return to in-person events is inevitable?

I think events focusing on increasing reach will continue to trend toward virtual. Certain types of events will go back to in-person. Something to do with a President’s Club — the company rewards you with a party in Hawaii — that kind of thing will not go virtual.

“Hybrid is just another buzzword to say that both online and offline events formats will coexist. Of course, they will.”

We’re also seeing that many events are getting smaller and more niche. Before the pandemic, if we look at a general pediatric conference, an attendee may only be interested in two topics out of the 200 offered. But now, we’ve seen a rise in many niche events focusing on specific issues, which helps streamline these events for attendees.

I think such events will still happen virtually because they’re easier to organize, and people can have more in-depth conversations. Internal virtual events for employees are another category that is getting more traction because companies have been going remote. So many internal events like the company happy hour — events that help employees engage better — we think that will still happen virtually. So we believe several use cases will continue to be virtual and are probably better.

What sort of trends will emerge once in-person events are possible again?

Another important trend is that many organizers have begun hosting events more frequently. They were doing large conferences in the past, but now they’re pivoting or rethinking their strategy. They realize that hosting maybe ten events yearly is better than hosting one big event annually. A traditional conference is usually multiday, with perhaps 200 different topics and 100 different speakers. Now many people are thinking about spreading it throughout the year.

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