Will Kataria, director of sales, Cvent Singapore: "While virtual events do not involve venue sourcing and onsite planning, they require the same care and attention as an in-person event." Credit: Cvent Singapore
SINGAPORE - Although the value of face-to-face interaction will never be replaced, there are times when going virtual is a necessary part of an event programme.
Virtual events are not only providing business continuity, they are also pushing us to evaluate the practices of the event industry. Mr Will Kataria, director of sales, Cvent Singapore, shares about his learning journey with clients:
"Since the beginning of this global crisis, we've been working hand-in-hand with our customers, helping them adjust to the fast-changing environment. For example, we've expanded and enhanced our virtual event solutions, and we've helped hundreds of our customers pivot their major in-person events, conferences, and meetings to virtual experiences, and they've found success along the way."
Cvent has also been adding value with new, complementary offerings, including enhanced training opportunities, support, and reporting capabilities - giving customers the tools they need to drive their business forward and allowing them to get more out of the Cvent platform.
"In tough times, you always learn the most. We're learning so much right now, and we're doing it right alongside our customers."
Creating event accountability
Mr Kataria believes that a virtual event is built around good content and attendee engagement - the same things that drive successful in-person events.
"Nothing has changed in that area. It's just as critical to analyse event data, set business goals, and measure results against pre-defined metrics. While virtual events do not involve venue sourcing and onsite planning, they require the same care and attention as an in-person event. Even with virtual, you need to effectively promote the event, engage your attendees, create memorable moments for attendees, and prove event success.
"By thinking of virtual events not as small one-off presentations, but as value-adding, engagement-driven experiences, one can create an impactful event that extends well beyond a computer screen."
"Event organisers are a savvy group, and they are using this period to identify new opportunities that will help them enhance their event programmes in the future. Certainly, there is more recognition now than ever about the important role technology plays in managing, marketing, and planning successful events.
"When event organisers leverage one comprehensive event management platform, they have more visibility into their programme spend, attendee data, budgeting, travel, and more. That visibility is critical as event information is often shared and managed by many different stakeholders - and technology streamlines that process."
As the entire industry is adjusting, Cvent is using this opportunity to prepare for changes, including enhancing current offerings and developing new solutions to ensure it continues delivering world-class solutions its customers have come to expect.
In early March, most Singapore planners were opting to postpone their in-person events rather than move to virtual. Now, more than two months later, organisations realise that the show must still go on - and they're pivoting to virtual - and delivering positive results in the process, said Mr Kataria.
Nothing beats in-person events
"However, the results are often not apples to apples. The sales volume that an in-person event delivers versus a virtual one can differ significantly. Additionally, some event types work well for virtual experiences whilst others do not.
"At the end of the day, nothing will ever replace in-person meetings and events. Humans are hardwired to connect in-person - it's in our DNA. Nothing beats the power of meeting face-to-face. However, there are times like today, when going virtual is necessary - and we're in a place now where organisations understand that virtual events can also be engaging, lead-driving opportunities. They aren't a replacement for in-person events, nor will they ever be, but they can (and will) play a role - now and in the future.
"As far as events in the later half the year go, what we're seeing is that event organisers around the world are sourcing for events in Q4 of 2020 and into early 2021. However, it will not come as a surprise that booking windows have increased significantly (according to Cvent Supplier Network data, in April 2020, the booking window was 284 days versus 174 in 2019), but RFPs are still being submitted and the world is anxious to meet face-to-face.
"We're leveraging our 20 plus years of experience by helping our customers adapt, evolve, and accelerate their future success. By preparing and planning now, event organisers will be well-positioned for when in-person events come back to life. Ultimately, our primary focus is to continue delivering the tools our customers need to ensure the show goes on - while keeping health and safety top of mind."