January 01 1970

Choosing an Agency Partner in the New Virtual World

Let us skip the usual trivial phrases about what the meeting and conference industries have gone through in the past year. We all know it has been extreme times. But those who embraced the challenges by utilizing all waking hours to transform their business offerings from – most likely – a traditional semi digital product to a full-blown digital alternative can now sense new opportunities in the distance.


By Anders Hageskov
Partner at Virtual Hive

Choosing an Agency Partner in the New Virtual World

Let us skip the usual trivial phrases about what the meeting and conference industries have gone through in the past year. We all know it has been extreme times. But those who embraced the challenges by utilizing all waking hours to transform their business offerings from – most likely – a traditional semi digital product to a full-blown digital alternative can now sense new opportunities in the distance.

But the opportunity is not solely going back to work as we did before COVID-19. Needless to say, people will meet, and we will for physical meetings blossom everywhere, but within short time I am guessing a new hybrid world will appear strong and fast. We will enjoy the possibility of choosing how we will set up and participate in conferences and fairs. And virtual platforms will for sure be a fast pace maturing segment leaving conference and fair owners with a brand-new headache. What agencies should they approach for assistance. Who should they request help from? Nine out of 10 suppliers of traditional event production, planning and conceptualization in the industry is most likely not ready to consult in terms of both physical and virtual events, and certainly not within hybrid synergies.

THE EVENT TECH INDUSTRY

During the past year, Event Tech has gone from being digital assets to ease and support planning and implementation of physical events to become an industry that can provide A-Z events, virtual events of course. Looking at the companies that offer virtual platforms, it is clear that most of these companies build their solutions around a tech approach. They know tech and how to develop digital solutions. Their offer to the market can roughly be divided into two segments. The 2D segment offering website setups adapted to the purpose of creating meetings and offer possibility to interact, and the more advanced 3D segment with a stronger focus on creating an emotionally involving experience for the user.

Data tracking opportunities are amazing in relation to both segments since they are digital solutions. And the opportunity of getting data and scoring leads, I believe, has been an eye-opener for many conference and fair owners in the industry. A learning that in itself will call for more appetite to work more and permanently with virtual solutions as add-ons, or even replacements, of some physical events in the future.

However, I believe that the future main parameter for becoming successful in terms of virtual events will be the ability to create a true experience: a virtual experience that creates real emotions and excitement in participants to engage, interact and stay that little bit longer. In other words, it should be a surprisingly positive experience to visit a virtual event… always and every time.

NEW POSSIBILITIES

A few months back, we helped a large corporation convert a year-long tradition of a physical industry fair into a virtual event. From the client side, it was a process of equal share of scepticism and excitement. But it turned out that the new virtual fair proved to attract 600% more attendees and generated a whole new different level of involvement, interactions and dialogue than their usual physical event. Not to mention the value of collected data that was much more approachable than the traditional fishbowl with business cards. It is easy to attribute the success to the fact that we could not meet physically, but looking into the data, it was clear that the level of engagement, the amount of time participants stayed, and the immense number of downloads from stands were the result of a process where the fair owner had the vision to create a surprisingly and appealing new fair experience. Yes, access is easy, interactions is without consequences, but people’s nature is that they would leave as soon as possible if they are not stimulated.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT AGENCY PARTNER

So, coming back to how conference and fair owners and organizers should choose a partner. My strongest recommendation would be to choose a partner that comes from the experience marketing side of business, and that have spent the last years’ time when not in meetings with their worried bank to build digital competences, rather than the tech experts that are adapting technology to experience marketing purposes. The bad news in this recommendation is that these agencies are still a rare species, but the industry is exploding these days, and new players will come, and the market will mature and develop a healthy landscape of competitors around the globe.

So, I am confident that human nature as always will win and that the experience marketing industry with all its insights in human behaviour and creativity will take the leading role in defining future virtual experiences.

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