Here we are, living in a virtual world. Every aspect of our lives is in one way or another influenced by some virtual moment. In several industries, face to face interaction is no longer relevant. Now, due to RONA, events have been pushed to join that bandwagon. Overnight, everything we knew about events was ripped out from under us and we scrambled, figuring out how to still exist. The mass gatherings that literally define events was now banned and we had to act fast. But how? There was no ‘How to Survive a Pandemic in the Event World for Dummies’ or ‘Pandemic 101’ course in college. We had to think of an immediate solution on our own. Virtual events just made sense as the solution.
For a few socially awkward heads of companies, this new virtual event world is a dream. Not only are virtual events less expensive to host, but they also can reach many more people than in person meetings/ events. Executives are seeing the immediate benefit and wondering if this can just be the new norm of events for them. However, one little minor detail… THIS WILL MOST LIKELY BACKFIRE… and here are some of the reasons why:
1) SALES WILL SUFFER
Sales will suffer because most of us are incentivized by ‘things.’ We need that incentive trip where we are wined and dined on the company dollar to let us know ‘job well done.’ We post nonstop on social media because this is the one week where everyone is jealous of us and rightfully so. We won the almighty annual sales race and now we are rewarded. This is our victory lap!
Similarly, customers will be less enticed to buy. Like stated above, all of us are attracted to shiny things… At conventions we go to the booth that gives away free swag (keychain, gum, flash drives, whatever… it’s free so we must have it). That one small exchange can spark a conversation into a sale. For larger companies, that free keychain is a free trip given to their top customers. We treat them like royalty. They have the power and we both know it. Therefore, we do the song and dance in hopes for that sale, but also to say thank you for using us. This song and dance is necessary because when a customer feels important they will return.
2) TEAM MORALE WILL WEAKEN.
For corporate retreats we force our employees to all come together for a weekend of ‘fun.’ They are forced to do teambuilding activities; they are forced to eat dinners together; they are forced to socialize… and don’t tell anyone but, they actually like it. Even though it is forced fun, it’s still fun. Memories are made (good, bad and drunk), bonds are formed and departments come together as one. I mean, where else are you going to get the “Did you see Kevin from HR pee in the hotel lobby fountain (true story)” quotes? These moments make work seem less like work and more like family, thus boosting team morale, indirectly bonding them and directly effecting people’s work life.
3) CORPORATE GROWTH WILL SLOW DOWN.
Corporate growth will slow down mainly because experiential marketing translates directly into brand awareness and growth. Gone are the days of marketing mailers. Marketing is now done with in- person experiences whether it be concerts, interactive activations, giant ball pits, block parties, etc. A tag from one of these by a well-known influencer can go a long way bringing thousands of new customers to your site to buy a product, sign up for a service and become a long-term customer. Your company’s trajectory will be on the up and up bringing growth and acceleration.
So, in conclusion (OMG college essay writing flashback), virtual events are serving as the vaccine to events during this new social distancing/ quarantine era. It’s an immediate solution that keeps the heartbeat of events alive. However, like all vaccines created in a pandemic, there will be side effects and those side effects will not show for a couple years. But, be warned… THERE WILL BE SIDE EFFECTS (cue dramatic music, fade to black, roll credits).