Amid a ‘precipitous drop in demand’ for virtual events as
face-to-face meetings return, how are industry professionals using event
technology differently than a year ago?
This was the overarching theme of a recent "Assessing event tech
needs in 2023" webinar from Northstar Meetings Group, which examined the
role of event tech providers in the current landscape, what lessons
have been learnt from how technology was used during the pandemic and
how planners can best develop relationships with technology providers.
Moderated by Michael Shapiro, executive editor at Northstar Meetings
Group, the discussion saw inputs from Julius Solaris, founder of
consulting and research company Boldpush; Nick Borelli, president of
Borelli Strategies, which provides marketing strategy for event
companies; and Anh Nguyen, head of customer service at software platform
Twine and founder of Spark Event Management.
“Virtual events is a category that was born during the pandemic –
because even if we had virtual events before, nothing compared to what
we experienced from 2020 onwards. It's a new tool,” said Solaris.
Nobody was expecting such a fast comeback for face-to-face events. But the [virtual] technology is not going anywhere and there will be different ways and formats in which we engage with it.
Julius Solaris, founder, Boldpush
“Nobody was expecting such a fast comeback for face-to-face events.
But the [virtual] technology is not going anywhere and there will be
different ways and formats in which we engage with it.”
Borelli highlighted how event technology companies are increasingly
looking to exploit content over experiences, targeting marketing
departments rather than event planners, while Nguyen said there has been
a gap in the last couple of years between what event planners wanted,
and how event technology companies have delivered on this.
“Neither side listened to each very well at all – event tech
companies were forcing planners to take their live event and cram it
into this virtual box and planners were just hoping for an easy fix,”
she said. ‘For those event technology companies that are still in the
market, it’s going to take a little more intention.”
Participants also discussed different expectations of hybrid, with
Nguyen saying that on the event management side, the industry as a whole
is still learning the nuance of hybrid and what it means.
It’s about connecting your people. It doesn’t have to run at the same time as a live event, it doesn’t have to be video content, and it doesn’t have to be livestreamed.
Anh Nguyen, head of customer service at Twine and founder of Spark Event Management
“Does it [hybrid] have to be at the same time [as the event]? If I
have an in-person event and then a week later a webinar, that is still a
‘hybrid’ experience,” she said. “But a client sees the word ‘hybrid’
and they want to do it, but it can be really challenging with the
additional costs and resources. It’s hard to educate clients about
hybrid – all they know is that it costs more.”
Nguyen said that hybrid may see greater levels of adoption "when we
get to a point where technology can support this in a more
cost-effective manner, when it’s actually truly a platform that’s meant
for hybrid and not just a virtual platform that you have to set up in
addition to planning your in-person event’"
Until that time, participants agreed, the job of planners is to
educate clients on different hybrid models. “It’s about connecting your
people,” said Nguyen. “It doesn’t have to run at the same time as a live
event, it doesn’t have to be video content, and it doesn’t have to be
Event technology and its ability to pivot is a big deal, now is the best time to have an open conversation and to challenge the technology from a design perspective. Bring technology providers into the [event] design strategy as opposed to [seeing them as] a vendor selling a widget.
Nick Borelli, president, Borelli Strategies
Borelli suggested that sales and marketing departments need to work
more closely with event planners, and spot opportunities to use
post-event content to attract sponsorship and generate additional
It’s a view that was shared by Solaris, who said that understanding
the business model of events is one of the biggest challenges that has
yet to be solved.
With both in-person and virtual meetings here to stay, clients were
urged to be open about their needs with their event technology
providers, their AV providers and the venues they use.
“Event technology and its ability to pivot is a big deal, now is the
best time to have an open conversation and to challenge the technology
from a design perspective. Bring technology providers into the [event]
design strategy as opposed to [seeing them as] a vendor selling a
widget,” said Borelli.
Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.