What we know now, that we didn’t know a year ago, is that virtual is super valuable, impactful, offers incredible reach, and is here to stay. The future of events is omnichannel: Virtual, In-Person, and Hybrid. And technology is moving at warp speed to make events even more meaningful and tangible, regardless of the channel, medium, or location of the audience.
Looking at 2022, we see more opportunities than ever. There is incredible potential for us, as marketers, to reinvent how we reach, engage, and appeal to our audiences in creative new ways like broadcast-quality streaming, multi-media challenges, cross-channel engagement, and virtual and real-world experiences and communities that deliver the essence of brands and products in new compelling ways. And now, with virtual and augmented reality taking hold across the universe of consumers and businesses alike, we’re seeing entirely new ways that companies can build their brands and generate revenue. I believe that in 2022, we’ll see more Metaverse influence in our events.
With a full slate of events this year, we’re looking at things differently. Here’s what we are seeing.
Trend #1: Multi-dimensional Broadcasts
We’ve been streaming events and offering components on-demand for two years now. What started as desktop conferencing redux has evolved into multi-dimensional, broadcast-quality production. Programming is geared to engage, entertain and influence audiences through conversation, dynamic content including video, games, audience challenges, and live virtual participation. Celebrities are hosting keynote programs and roundtable discussions. Experts are weighing in from a single soundstage or distant studios. And, the result is that real-time virtual broadcasts are taking hold and doing the work that only in-person events used to do.
And, there is an added benefit. Virtual events offer a long digital tail that can be leveraged in future marketing campaigns. Many of our events are now reaching tens of thousands of viewers. Many are watching programs on-demand. And, content is often broken down into smaller pieces that can be consumed on mobile devices, on social channels, or on the website.
Trend #2: Networking in the virtual world is getting better
Companies are realizing that there are many ways to influence audiences. For some, adding evening sessions, parties or networking events alongside the broadcast sessions adds the networking and face-to-face interaction that people still crave.
Events that add thoughtful in-person event components can offer added opportunities to influence customers, build networks, and strengthen bonds. For many, IRW components augment virtual broadcasts to build an agenda that meets a wider range of audiences.
Trend #3: Exclusive in-person events
For some audiences and for some businesses, the real-world experience offers a level of exclusivity that endears an audience in an inner-circle way. For example, highly tactile or technical products can be demonstrated in smaller, intimate gatherings. These “Road Shows” are designed to bring together audiences in smaller geographies for more detailed, personalized interactions. This year, we’ve seen an increase in roadshows for highly-technical sales, financial services products, and executive conferences. In these intimate settings, production quality and great content are essential. With the pandemic still being a factor, audiences in these environments are expecting even greater impact and networking opportunities when they choose to travel.
Delivering exceptional, exclusive content can be a draw for these types of events and can serve as a way for companies to strengthen their relationship with these critical audiences.
Trend #4: Liminal spaces
The past 24 months have accelerated the development of new, technology-driven experiences. The culture and art scene is blending virtual and physical experiences in liminal spaces. We expect to see similarly blurred reality productions in event venues and urban centers.
If you’ve visited a liminal space like Super Real in NYC, or of the Immersive Van Gogh® Exhibits in most of the major cities in the U.S, you’ve participated in a liminal space. These productions offer new ways to reach audiences. Companies are leveraging these opportunities to build brands, showcase products or create immersive learning environments.
Trend #5: The Metaverse Metamorphosis
The metaverse, a parallel digital world where people participate in communities on gaming platforms, in virtual entertainment venues and even virtual cities, is rapidly becoming real. Once primarily in the gaming world, virtual communities are now extending to more traditional environments. Companies of all sizes and shapes are taking notice.
We think that, just as virtual and IRW event models co-exist to meet different audiences in different circumstances, the Metaverse event model will co-exist with IRW, hybrid and virtual event models. Events in the Metaverse may open a whole new dimension of access to a specific audience. We think that successful meta events will target audiences that are already engaged in virtual reality. The Metaverse gives marketers an opportunity to embrace new ways to communicate to a new profile of the audience. Like any event, the fundamentals of audience and message will remain and the requirement of excellent production quality will become even more fundamental to success.
It’s been an incredible ride in the last 24 months, and it looks like this year will continue to be the same. We’re so excited to see how the world of events will continue to evolve. What we know for sure, is that the corporate world will continue to reach across all channels, Virtual, Hybrid, and IRW.. whatever form these things take.