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Five reasons why “virtual” is critical to event strategy in this new hybrid world

Five reasons why “virtual” is critical to event strategy in this new hybrid world

Undoubtedly, at some point over the past few months we’ve all asked ourselves the question “Will things ever get back to how they were before?” Well, let me make this easy for you – no, they won’t. They’ll be even better!

Through no choice of our own we’ve all had to embrace the virtual environment. Whether hosting an important client meeting via Zoom or joining an online team-building exercise, we’ve found ourselves at the mercy of a screen. Having perfected our camera angle, rearranged our backdrop, and purchased new headphones, it’s fair to say many of us are craving the return of face-to-face interactions.

However, if you’re torn between whether you can’t wait to return to the real world or have in fact rather enjoyed living in the virtual space, don’t worry, the great news is you don’t have to choose one over the other. Virtual is not here to replace reality, nor will it disappear when Covid finally does. Rather, real and virtual will become a partnership, each adding a dimension (figuratively and literally) to the other. We are now living in the hybrid era that we have long been moving towards. The Covid pandemic has simply accelerated our arrival.

When it comes to the sports and entertainment industry, those brands and rightsholders that open their eyes to the possibilities offered by hybrid marketing solutions will be the ones that flourish. If you still need convincing, here’s why you now must include virtual as part of your event strategy.

1. Virtual is a viable revenue stream

At SQN we’ve seen far too many companies struggle with the idea of running virtual and physical events side-by-side. We get it – with finances coming under ever closer scrutiny, it’s difficult to justify adding virtual events to an already tightly-squeezed budget. The good news is that virtual events can pay for themselves. Once an easily replicable environment has been set up, there are no travel costs, no accommodation costs, minimal staff costs, and a whole host of branding, sponsorship and merchandise opportunities.  And virtual events are goldmines when it comes to collecting invaluable user data.

2. Connect with anyone, anywhere at any time

Physical events are great at providing a personal immersion and sensory overload that simply can’t be replicated when sat in front of your screen at home. But physical events have their limitations too, not least their practical size and cost. There are myriad logistical, location and financial reasons your customers and prospects can’t always be with you in person. So, we could just go back to where we were before and leave them out completely… or you could provide them with a virtual equivalent. In doing so, your reach becomes unlimited, the number of events you can run becomes boundless and your brand is always on! Why would you ever go back to an in-person-only event strategy that leaves out 99% of your target audience?

3. Virtual events can support CSR objectives

In a world where we can now easily and efficiently remotely connect with pretty much anyone, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify travelling huge distances for two-hour meetings. Not just from a productivity and time-consumption standpoint, but from a sustainability angle too. With companies’ carbon-footprints coming under ever greater scrutiny, virtual provides the ultimate solution to highlight the real change and positive impact you’re having on society. Do we really need to jump on the first flight to Germany to have a meeting? The plethora of virtual channels now available – and, of course, the restrictions placed on the world by Covid – have enabled us to rethink the necessities versus niceties in our professional lives.  And they have given us the chance to truly rebalance work and life, rather than just continue to pay lip service to it.

4. New opportunities have arisen

Covid has opened our eyes to opportunities that, in hindsight, we wonder how we could possibly have missed before. Take video calling as an example. Now it’s the norm but previously this wouldn’t have been our go-to – it was all about conference calls via spider phones or putting clients on hands-free in the car while heading to the next meeting.  Video was possible but we just didn’t use it. Virtual should now be a core element of event strategy, as it provides valuable opportunities to raise your brand profile and engage with potential consumers. In sport, entirely new formats have come to life that are purely based in the virtual world or are a hybrid between the two. Virtual reality, augmented reality, livestreaming and video are allowing companies to engage with their audiences on a much larger scale than ever before.

5. A futureproof solution

No one saw Covid coming, but now that it has it’s sure changed our outlook on potential future challenges. Physical events are always at the mercy of external factors, whether global or local. And although virtual events are certainly not bulletproof, they offer an “always on” solution with far fewer logistical issues, much faster deployment, significantly increased reach and much lower risk. Virtual isn’t just for now, it’s a forever solution. Why would you not take seriously a platform that could futureproof your company’s event strategy?

At SQN we are huge advocates for the benefits a hybrid event strategy can provide. We have long experience in helping sponsors and rightsholders tell their stories remotely and in face-to-face environments.  And today, we are assisting a number of clients who are challenging the norm in both the virtual and hybrid spaces, redefining their industries and realising huge new customer opportunities.

If you’d like us help you navigate the hybrid event possibilities for your business. please get in touch!