New Business Reality — Virtual Events

Published: 1 April 2021 y., Thursday

During the pandemic, many companies switched to remote work. The organizers of international conferences have changed the format of events to remote.

In 2020, according to Bizzabo, 63 percent of business meetings and seminars were held in virtual space due to COVID-19 restrictions. 93 percent of organizers plan to continue investing in virtual conferences.

In 2019, representatives of the Penki Kontinentai Group took part in almost 20 specialized exhibitions and conferences. Remotely only 2.5 percent of the total number of events. In 2020, this share has already reached 80 percent, during the quarantine period — 100 percent.

According to Loreta Valinčienė, project manager at Penkių kontinentų bankinės technologijos (BS/2, part of Penki Kontinentai Group), before the pandemic, only meetings between the company's central office in Vilnius and subsidiaries in other countries were held remotely. Then the quarantine crushed the company's plans to participate in international events and organize its own conferences. In 2020 and early 2021, BS/2 has already organized 7 webinars and one distance certification training. The restrictions did not prevent BS/2 from establishing new partnerships with companies from Namibia, Nigeria, Burundi, Myanmar and other countries. BS/2 representatives took part in 16 webinars and two international exhibitions and conferences.

Have virtual conferences paid off? Can they replace live meetings? Let's analyze the advantages and disadvantages of remote events.

Virtual presentation or live demo?

Modern technological means make it possible to present goods and services remotely. Graphics and visualization, 3D effects, and augmented reality make an impression no less than the product itself. On the other hand, before purchase, you want to touch the product, study it in detail, try it out.

“Last fall, we participated in the international conference Self-Service Banking Asia 2020. BS/2 Software Sales Manager Vilius Gofmanas and representative of our partner Vietnamese company BSI Technology made a presentation “ATM Security & Dispute Resolution excellence for top banks in Vietnam”. At the end of January this year, we took part in the Fintex Summit Online 2021 event organized by the Azerbaijan Banks Association. Both conferences were held in a remote format. At virtual stands, we demonstrated our products and consulted event participants via video chat. Of course, many people prefer to participate in live presentations of equipment, especially ATMs and software. We are glad to have subsidiaries in 7 countries, where we can demonstrate the latest banking equipment and software solutions in the exhibition halls. To provide the possibility to explore our products, we also have equipped showrooms in the offices of our software distribution partners,” says the BS/2 representative.

Larger audience

Amanda Hardy, Senior Conference, and Advertising Manager at RBR, says one of the key benefits of virtual events is that more banks register from a wider geographic area, who would not previously have traveled. For example, the Self-Service Banking Asia 2020 virtual conference organized by RBR was attended by 400 representatives of banks from 100 countries. Before that, the number of participants did not exceed 350.

The BS/2 representative also spoke about this advantage of online events: “Many our employees participated in virtual seminars. Physical participation in conferences is often hampered by distance or workload.”

The number of participants and guests of a regular event is limited not only by the size of the chosen venue. The organizers of the exhibition determine the number of company representatives at the stands. The virtual format does not limit either the area or the number of participants in the event.

A Bizzabo study found that the vast majority (80.2%) of virtual event organizers were able to reach a wider audience.

“Another plus is that we can provide analytics on booth visits and presentation views. Detailed information about attracted guests can be used for further product promotion strategies. Many of our clients find that the number of leads is higher than what they would receive at a physical event,” says the RBR representative.

Events without time limits

Often the participants do not have enough time to listen to all the reports and visit all the stands during conferences and exhibitions. The distinctive features of virtual events are unlimited time and an individual approach. Remote conferences provide opportunities for obtaining information at a convenient time.

“Our virtual events are available on-demand for a month, so attendees can go back and visit booths/presentations that they missed,” says A. Hardy.

Well, in the conditions of quarantine restrictions, webinars and virtual conferences have become the only way to promote business. Many companies have appreciated the advantages this year. So, even after the end of the pandemic, organizers will reconsider their event planning, learn new techniques for working with the audience and use a mixed format of events.

This forecast is also confirmed by Bizzabo data, according to which 97 percent of marketing specialists believe that in 2021 mixed events will prevail. More than half (54%) of organizations plan to increase the number of webinars.

Even in countries where face-to-face communication plays a very important role in the business (for example, Georgia or Azerbaijan, where BS/2 has subsidiaries), representatives of financial institutions recognized the benefits of virtual events.

“Unfortunately, the remote format does not allow face-to-face communication and feel the energy of the event. Online events depend on technical capabilities and the Internet. However, in the context of a pandemic, we were glad to provide the participants of our traditional Fintex Summit with a meeting virtual platform. Over two days, it was attended by 5,000 participants from 45 countries. About 60 speakers from various international and local companies shared their experiences with participants and discussed relevant topics. After the event, we received positive feedback from the participants. They appreciated the opportunity to share their experience and visit more than 50 online stands,” says Yunus Abdulov, Chief Executive Officer at Azerbaijan Banks Association.

Participation in international events, including virtual ones, is one of the most effective ways to promote products. On the one hand, this is an opportunity to study the market and global trends, on the other, to declare oneself and strengthen relationships with partners.

Šaltinis: Penki kontinentai
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