There are endless technologies, innovations, formats and strategies to consider to produce successful events. It can be overwhelming to test out new products or introduce new elements into your events, especially with limited resources. Industry peers who are exploring and experimenting can, therefore, teach us a lot about current trends.
To get an industry pulse on current trends and perspectives on where events stand, powerhouse media-sharing platform Kaltura recently published findings of its 2023 event-focused survey. 1,500 event organizers and attendees participated in Kaltura’s comprehensive survey. To drill things down, here are five helpful takeaways from it to consider.
1) Investment in virtual events is still growing.
In-person events have clearly made a comeback. However, hybrid events, which feature both in-person and virtual elements or ways to participate, also continue to offer a middle ground that’s gaining traction.
Even with the return of in-person events, 74% of marketers say virtual events are the most important for their strategies. The benefits of doing events virtually are now obvious, and companies aren’t ignoring them to go back to what they did before. In fact, those surveyed said they anticipate growth in all areas of virtual events, including:
- Qualified lead generation (15%)
- Registrations (14%)
- Attendance (15%)
- Engagement (13%)
- Networking (12%)
- Budget (12%)
2) In-person events are seen as more valuable but not always the best choice.
While the data captured from the first point above shows virtual events will continue to have their place, only 10% of respondents found virtual events to be the most valuable. 40% of survey respondents cited in-person events to be the most valuable and the best option for networking. Hybrid events were close behind with 36% of people reporting hybrid formats as the most valuable to them. 14% of event professionals surveyed said they do not have a preferred format.
It’s interesting to note that when the question slightly shifted to events they prefer to attend, the results differed. While companies may find the greatest value in producing their events in-person, it’s not always the format people prefer to actually attend in. 50% of the respondents said they prefer attending hybrid events, while 36% selected in-person. 18% prefer fully virtual events.
Researchers believe that travel requirements, schedule conflicts and lack of flexibility for in-person events led to the differences between responses for these two similar questions.
3) Production quality can make or break your event.
The greatest challenge for professionals hosting in-person events is attendance. 46% of respondents cited attendance as a challenge. For virtual events, attention is the largest hurdle. Those results aren’t too surprising given that it’s harder to get people to travel to a physical location for an event than it is to get them to connect remotely. However, once people attend, it’s easier to keep their attention in-person than it is in a virtual setting.
Whether virtual or in-person, production quality came in second. If individuals take time out to attend an event, they want to see quality, professional-level production. In the case of virtual events, 88% of respondents said that high-quality technical production is either critical or very important. In fact, even one technical glitch can lead 25% of attendee participants to leave the event. Three or more glitches and you’re likely to lose more than 70% of your event participants. This data indicates that companies should not cut corners when it comes to how they livestream or work with A/V companies on-site.
4) The purpose of your event should dictate its format.
Events that feature live Q&As, educational sessions, keynote-only sessions, focus primarily on networking or entertainment all have different needs. The survey looked at which format professionals prefer for these different types of events.
When it comes to networking events, 43% of individuals prefer in-person formats. 33% prefer to network virtually. For entertainment events, in-person events were also slightly ahead of virtual opportunities. However, when it comes to learning and educational events, people showed a strong preference to participate virtually. Virtual events also held a small lead for live Q&A sessions.
Often times, companies will host events with the primary purpose of launching new offerings. With this scenario in mind, the largest percentage (40%) of respondents said virtual events are the best option for launching new products compared to hybrid (34%) or in-person (26%) options. It’s important to therefore not just embrace virtual or decide to go back to in-person based on a hunch, but to really consider the primary purpose of why you’re hosting this event and what it focuses on. That focus should dictate how you organize it to increase the likelihood of high attendance and engagement in a method your audience will prefer.
5) Event producers are investing more in backup plans.
63% of marketers plan to host in-person events this year. However, according to 59% of them, they’re more likely to cancel in-person events versus virtual ones. With in-person, the stakes are typically higher due to the costs which come with hosting in-person events. In the planning process, expectations on return on investment (ROI) often change as numbers become more ‘real’.
93% of marketers have contingency plans in place to switch from in-person to virtual events if necessary. Event producers who found themselves without backup plans during pandemic times, are now preparing and planning for changes from the get-go. By doing so ahead of time, it’s easier to make changes or cancel events without the need to swallow massive cancellation fees.
None of these findings should come across as super shocking, but it’s helpful to see how your peers are approaching events currently. With budgets, different types of content to share, audience expectations, geography and more, there are a great deal of factors which go into making the ‘right’ decisions for your company’s events.
Plus, a bonus trend: Making event accessibility a priority.
While Kaltura’s survey didn’t touch on accessibility a great deal, Verbit knows from its partnership with Kaltura how critical it is to those streaming events on the platform and elsewhere. Verbit built its accessibility solutions into Kaltura’s platform.
Regardless of the type of event you’re producing, you’re likely to have individuals in your target audience who may be left out without providing them with accommodations. Making event content accessible is a growing expectation by today’s audiences. For live events, this often means offering attendees additional tools like live captions that make the dialogue accessible. Those steaming and pre-recording events are also supplying transcripts and audio description, which assists individuals who are blind or have low vision, for their events and videos. These accommodations, which are quite easy to implement, help to provide equity to individuals with disabilities, as well as benefits for your greater audience. Accommodations like captions and transcripts provided both live and after the event can help those who struggle with note taking, who have learning disabilities, have ADHD, who can’t watch with the sound and many others.
Those using Kaltura’s platform for events have access to live captions and transcripts within the platform directly as Verbit integrates within it. Regardless of if you’re using Kaltura to stream or host your events and content, you can reach out to us to learn more about how Verbit can help make your events more inclusive.