VEG’ers are not just sitting around twiddling their digits. The pandemic has not ended events. Instead, and very quickly, it has evolved them. Here is this week’s news in the world of events, brought to you by the VEG.
March 25 | 3PM EST
Next VEG Group Meetup

In a recent interview Bob Priest-Heck of Freeman, a large events company, said, “Events are trending towards more digital, personalized, and targeted attendee experiences. This is a transformation that had been happening, and the pandemic just accelerated the timeline.” Join Bob as he answers your questions about new opportunities, audiences, geographics, data, and experiments in virtual events, and the chance to test out new verticals in a digital space.

The Way Things Were

Feel like bursting into a chorus of “Memories”? Looking forward, if you think a hybrid event is as simple as streaming your live event, then hear this. In anticipation of the moment that we can all meet again, but never go back to the way we were, it’s time to look at the way we’ll be.

To ponder: 

  • Who will be the second-rate citizens in a hybrid event world? The schleppers who came to your live event or the ones who stayed home to watch?
  • When it’s coffee break time at your real-life event what time is it for your online viewers?
  • If you’re polling the audience do you care which answers were in-person vs. online? (Hint: you should.)
  • Will you use a separate host for the online version of the meeting or expect that a single host can be a head-rotating exorcist?
  • How will you give your remote attendees a whiff of local ambiance?
  • How will your budget change for hybrid events?

Virtual events will outlast the pandemic. This survey from AnyRoad makes no bones about the longevity of virtual events in a post-pandemic world.


The 60/40 Rule
Robin Farmanfarmaian, a meeting guru, talks about a blend of 60% content and 40% interactivity as being the sorcerer’s potion for virtual meetings. Think about it. The ratio is on par with most in-person events if you include dinner, drinks, and chance encounters. In the real world, interactivity happens without your shepherding. In the virtual world, if Content is King then interactivity and serendipity are Queen and Princess. For your virtual events, you’ll want fewer speakers speaking for less time. 

Stop Apologizing 
Ding. Ding. “I’m sorry, but we won’t be able to meet in person" is the wrong answer for 2021. In 2020 Bizzabo reported that 80% of virtual events were free. Free is not a sustainable strategy. But if you’re going to sell, you’ve got to believe in the value proposition. Start crunching your numbers, getting your testimonials, and building your narrative for virtual events, now. Evangelize. Educate your sales team. And adjust pricing with “first-time” promotions to make converting attendees and sponsors a no-brainer. Consider VIP level pricing, mixed-reality pricing for exhibitors, and, at the other end of the spectrum, scholarships for attendees hit hard by the pandemic. 

Church and State 
I grew up in the era of print magazines where editors and ad sales folks couldn’t even identify each other in a lineup. We were completely segregated. But one of my best mentors, Jake Winebaum, told me to think of a magazine as a cover-to-cover read where advertisers felt vested in the magazine and readers felt vested in the advertisers. For virtual meetings, you want your sponsors to take their rightful, organic place in your content. “Proud sponsor” doesn’t mean they have to sit idly by in the event background.

Global DMC Partners’ virtual 2021 Trends & Panel Discussion reported that 63 percent of audience members said engagement was their top concern surrounding virtual events, followed by budget. But they also expressed a sense of dissatisfaction with managing virtual events saying that it was not their area of expertise nor their area of interest. That means it’s time to look at your 2021 staff and see who needs to be sent to re-education camp.


Giving Staff a Digital Crash Course 


For a good roundup of 2021’s stats and insights read Connected Meetings. For an impassioned call to the future read Intrado’s predictions. “The online event grew audiences and that’s something we’re not likely to forgo“ speculates Intrado’s Ben Pearson. “Live events will likely be of smaller capacity than the pre-COVID equivalent and more often than not feature an AV production setup to transmit the content live to remote audiences."

Physical is Finite and Not Scalable

Gathering once a year in person is memorable. It’s the other 361 days that yearn for a virtual component. Advantages of lower costs, larger crowds, more data and personalization, and an audience that doesn’t feel pressured to get it all done in a fixed amount of time can work for you. Use the examples set by retail’s omnichannel approach. Those who adapted did not die. 

  • But Will They Come?
    Innovatis Group found
    that 81% of respondents will be ready to get on a plane in late 2021, they also found that many companies are still hesitant to allow work-related travel. In fact, more than 49% of companies surveyed have an all-out ban on travel, while 47% have cut, frozen or reduced travel budgets for 2021.

    You know that it’s a “thing” when the NYT discovers virtual meetings. If you haven’t read the story yet, The Time’s piece on virtual meetings offers a good roundup of where we are and where we’re heading in our business and personal lives. 

  • Instructive
    NYC is planning a six-month festival to revive its performing arts scene. It’s a large-scale experiment in using space and jumpstarting the decimated arts economy.

  • True Confession
    I sunk to new lows and attended the Pokemon 25th Anniversary with Post Malone. What’s your most embarrassing virtual moment? (Winner will receive a VEG hat.)

  • Evolve 2.0 An Event-o-Pallozza
    Evolve 2.0 sponsored by Swapcard, a large virtual events platform, showed what events look like when event producers throw everything they’ve got into the production. The 3-day event’s content was great, and high energy but no trick was spared. Awards for the most networking and interactions, 3 different streaming tracks, polls everywhere, live auctions, chatrooms, communities, job boards, trade shows, photo booth, chat, and a scavenger hunt. Beware of overkill but thanks for giving us a chance to experience it all.
Don't forget to register for March 25th and in case you couldn't join us for the February meeting you can pretend you were there by watching it now.
Feel the need to stay up on the virtual events scene but have a few other to-dos on your list?
Sign up for our newsletter
Send any tips and thoughts you have about virtual events. contact Robin Raskin,
Founder, Virtual Events Group
201.564.7900 | 917.215.3160 | @robinr