It’s a subject that has been studied and discussed to death, but COVID-19’s importance cannot be ignored. The pandemic it caused and the social changes that followed fundamentally changed the human experience. Suddenly digital calls were the dominant form of communication. Platforms like Zoom had their daily participants grow by 35 times. People felt isolation that was incredibly foreign.
So while today many of these changes have been altered or reversed, many are here to stay. Video calling and conferencing, for example, has grown in popularity far beyond the scopes of 2019. Although there are some distinct problems that consistently cause doubt. For one, the general structure of large scale video calls is physically uncomfortable. Prolonged eye contact, bodies unnaturally close, and troubles with interpretation are just a few reasons as to why.
Regardless, many people still hold a large preference for virtual work, communication, and notably events. In 2020, 70% of physical events were switched to be hybrid or virtual. This set a standard that has turned into 40% of planned events in 2020 being digital. On top of this 35% are planned to be hybrid.
When asking professionals that commonly attend events, 72% plan to attend as many digital events as physical. Of those that attend more than 10 events yearly, 46% attended digital events while only 13% attended physical. While some differences between physical and digital events are obvious, some are not.
Digital engagement platforms, for example, are much cheaper to operate than physical ones. This isn’t surprising when considering the overhead costs of a venue and possible catering. Although other benefits like increased engagement and productivity are not so obvious. For practical events, less celebrations and more work-based events, employees do better work digitally.
This comes as the consequence of a few factors. Digital events have no commuting, give more opportunity to multi-task, and create a more comfortable environment. Beyond digital events there are two interesting alternatives, Metaverse and hybrid events. Hybrid events are very positively received, 72% of attendees saying they’ll get more value than a physical event.
It’s not surprising when hybrid events can bring people physically together while still utilizing some of the digital advantages. Letting some of the educational/fun elements be digital opens up the door for what can be done. Trying to make events fun can be key to keeping a business’s morale high. While there are many ways to do this, gamification is one great way to do so.
Gamification is notably much easier when using digital resources. Utilizing social media, anonymity afforded by digital resources, and general tech makes it easy to make anything a game. The Metaverse on the other hand is built on the premise of making digital events feel physical.
No immersion and a lack of real connection are cited as big problems for digital events. Metaverse events attempt to get around this by making the digital experience similar to the physical. This means integrated tools, digital representations of physical places, and an avatar to represent oneself.
Hybrid and Metaverse events have problems of their own, but it all goes to show there’s an option for anyone. Digital events, even if occupying a small part of the overall event, are the undeniable future.