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5 virtual event technology trends to look out for

With virtual events up by a whopping 1000% (Source: Forbes) this year, everyone's attended their fair share of webinars - and audiences' expectations are rising. Limits are being pushed, and Event Organizers are going all out to ensure attendees don't miss out on their event due to the dreaded 'Zoom fatigue'.

The numbers are startling - in a survey of Event Organizers, 54% said they were spending more of their time and attention on the attendee experience rather than logistics, with over 33% reinvesting any leftover into enhancing the attendee experience (Source: American Express).

Here, we take a look at some of the key trends in tech that have emerged this year and are often credited for taking virtual events to the next level, bringing excitement to speakers and attendees alike and reinvigorating the events industry. Did we miss any? Let us know your favorite trend in the comments!

Artificial Intelligence

With the advancement of technology, Event Organizers have utilized AI devices such as chatbots and customized event schedules to create a personalized experience for attendees and site visitors, which is more effective than general, one-size-fits-all content. AI has the power to deliver tailored content to audiences, ensuring the right information reaches the right people. For example, custom talk recommendations can help guide attendees who are overwhelmed by selecting talks to find the perfect fit.

Chatbots are also a useful tool to provide on-demand event schedules, notifications and even to collect feedback. Perhaps the most prominent use of the chatbot is as a 'helpdesk' of sorts. Gone are the days where you had to email a member of the support team and endure long waiting times for a response - enter the humble chatbot! It's the age of instant gratification, and more often than not, people ask questions that have already been asked before. A chatbot can help respond to thousands of queries at once, allowing you to open your event to as many attendees as possible without worrying about your tech support team having to manage a high volume of emails. AI is as smart as you make it - ensure that you, as an Event Organizer, pre-empt the difficulties your attendees may experience. One way of doing so is testing the entire event before launch or using attendee questions/ feedback from your previous events to feed into your AI tools.

Keen to learn more about AI? Check out this article for tips on incorporating it into your next event.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) at events is not a new concept - the World Record for most people using virtual reality displays was during a YPO EDGE event in Vancouver, where 1,867 participants were given a chance to test driverless cars. But with social distancing measures in place for most of 2020, VR has never been more in-demand.

VR tools are used to create unique, immersive experiences for audiences who are looking for an event that can capture their attention and deliver an experience that takes them out of the current reality and into something that engages the senses.  Examples of the use of VR in online events include 360 virtual tours of museums, attractions, or cities, simulations, hands-on training, storytelling, and even 1-1 therapy.

With online events not going away anytime soon, VR offers a promising glimpse into the future of events.

Instant captions and translation

Incorporating these elements into online events can help expand the audience pool by removing both language and accessibility barriers. They're also a great way to boost SEO leading to a rise in organic traffic to your site, as well as help attendees digest content better - with several studies showing that captions improve engagement, focus, and comprehension in college students during eLearning.

There are plenty of tools that have emerged over the last few years - with webinar platforms such as Zoom also beginning to offer options like automated and multilanguage captioning.

Breakout Rooms

What sets your event apart? How do you incentivize and encourage audiences to attend your event live, rather than just catching the replay? Event Organizers are value-adding to the attendee experience by leveraging the power of breakout rooms. Separating attendees provides the opportunity for interaction in smaller groups or even to segment their audience according to topic preference, industry, or other categories. It can also be a unique way to facilitate breaks during a longer talk - guided meditation sessions, musical performances, or, if attendees are more familiar with one another, a shared lunch, spring to mind.

Event organizers are getting creative with their breakout sessions. Ideas include mimicking the setup of a conference, where attendees 'gather' for the keynote speech before heading off into different virtual rooms to attend talks of their choice; holding group quizzes or games to serve as a break from the content-heavy talks, or simply as a place attendees can network with each other.

Event apps

Apps have become a popular solution for Event Organizers looking for a one-stop-shop for all things 'events'. With software like BuildFire and Eventify, amongst others, you don't have to be a developer or engineer to create your very own Event app. The benefits of having everything on a single app are clear - they're a fantastic way to disseminate information to attendees in an efficient and effective way. Launching a limited-time-only offer? Send a push notification! Want to collect feedback? Send a push notification! Besides being the fastest way to communicate with attendees, they also have the option to limit notifications and alerts via their phone settings, saving them the hassle of managing email subscriptions or constantly checking your event website for updates.

Attendees also benefit from the convenient and interactive nature of an event app. Depending on how the app is built, they can often build an event schedule, set reminders, and explore speaker profiles - all within one app. Many organizers add a gamification aspect to their event via an app. Intrigued? Here's a handy article with tips on how to do so.

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