In-person events are returning with gusto as conferences, cancelled or moved online during COVID-19, have geared up once again. Focus Communications organizes several large conferences and events each year. Witnessing all the work that goes into large events like this got me thinking about how many of these events were only online a couple of years ago. Virtual events have some benefits; they are cheaper, require little to no commute time, and are easier to organize, yet there is something special about in-person events. Maybe I am still suffering from Zoom exhaustion, but this got me thinking about the benefits of gathering in person.
(Source, Statista)According to Statista, during a 2021 survey, most marketing professionals expected a virtual format to be the primary way of hosting events by 2022, making in-person events even more special. While online or hybrid events may become the dominant method in the future, in-person communication will always have its benefits.
About 55 per cent of communication is body language, while spoken words only comprise about seven per cent. It is a lot easier to understand a message if you can see the whole person and their body language rather than only seeing their faces.
People interrupting or straining to catch the attention of the virtual meeting host leads to a lot of confusion, people talking over one another, and choppy conversations.
Furthermore, at in-person events, you do not have to worry about someone’s Zoom camera or microphone malfunctioning or dealing with slow internet connections disrupting your video stream.
Unbeatable Marketing Opportunities
There are a few opportunities to display your logo during online events, and there will be time for your brand to be mentioned, but you cannot beat the range of marketing options at an in-person event. Sponsors can have their logo displayed on pull-up banners, posters, the big projector screen, and even the event tickets. Every day we are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads. Print media requires 21 per cent less cognitive effort to process than digital media, making it a great medium to use if you want your brand to have top of mind and stand out in the thousands of ads individuals see daily.
Networking in person will always have its advantages. While there are opportunities for break-out rooms in a virtual setting, nothing can replace the spontaneity of bumping into someone in a hallway and making a great new connection. When you are taking the time to go to an event physically, odds are you will be more willing to put in a greater effort to make connections, as will the people around you.
In 2019, B2B events contributed $101 billion to the United States GDP. Small businesses, hotels, local restaurants, and convention centres reap the benefits of the influx of people coming to the area. In-person events help these businesses thrive, and many count on these events to help pay the bills.
Online events certainly have their advantages. They are easier to organize; travel requirements and physical locations do not limit attendance for virtual environments; they are cheaper to set up, and you get access to real-time data about how many guests are attending each event panel. However, you cannot replicate some things in a virtual environment. In-person events mean you can assess both verbal and non-verbal communication. There are many valuable marketing opportunities, chances for spontaneous networking, and the ability to contribute to small businesses in a local economy. While I believe digital or hybrid events are the future for many meetings, in-person events will always have their place, too.
Do you prefer virtual or in-person events?