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07 Aug 2020

Virtual Events Need to be Taken More Seriously

Virtual Events Need to be Taken More Seriously
Virtual events must be taken more seriously if they are to be a genuine extension of in-person events, says industry consultant John Nawn.

The co-founder of the Event Strategy Network and Northstar columnist was commenting on the findings in Northstar Meetings Group's latest Pulse Survey, which drew 1,160 meeting planner responses from around the world.

Nawn said that while 80% of respondents cite a growing need for digital-event platforms, they're unconvinced of their overall value proposition.

"I'm sure the virtual-event payoff remains elusive, but folks need to be taking virtual much more seriously. It is here to stay, but we're still in the 'learning to crawl' stage. There's so much more that can be done to make virtual events more viable — and a genuine complement/extension of in-person events. Now's the time to immerse ourselves in this new world and master it."

Although virtual events are growing in number, respondents also said that they could not replace the face-to-face experience, so were keen to explore more hybrid options.

Anyone planning or attending future in-person events should expect to see face masks as typical meetings attire. Seventy per cent said they would mandate the use of face masks as a condition of attendance, with 72% saying they would provide masks on site. More than 80% of respondents said they were planning to implement physical distancing, signage, hand sanitiser and other best practices.

The survey also revealed that 60% of planners are rescheduling or rebooking meetings and events, while 27% are spending most of their time researching for possible future events. Just 5% are focused on contracting for new meetings, although this was consistently higher among respondents in the UK, U.S and Europe.

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