After a year of social distancing, virtual meetings have become the new normality. Humans are a species, that need social interaction in some form or another. To stop the spread of COVID-19, in-person interactions have been restricted over the last year. So to keep in touch with each other, we really made use of all the video call platforms out there. Either Facetime with your parents, Skype with your friends, Zoom with your siblings or Whatsapp to call your partner, at least once a day is now part of our routine. We are thankful for modern technology more than ever before, especially during the pandemic.
But what about business interactions? Well, same solution for the same problem. Some businesses have used virtual platforms to hold meetings in the past, but the use definitely increased in 2020. Business meetings, reunions with clients, events, conferences, open days etc.: any kind of get-together took place over a screen in 2020.
Some might say, this will be over as soon as the pandemic comes to an end. Do not be to sure about that. Even though in-person interaction is what we are used to the most, many got to explore a new way of interaction. Virtual gatherings are not a temporary solution; they came here to stay. This method demonstrated its multiple advantages, which have to be taken into consideration when planning an event. Depending on the occasion, one option might be better than the other.
In the following blog, you will find out about the key advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.
Partakers of a F2F (Face to Face) event, do not only listen to the information. They are also able to read body language, gestures and expressions. Combining the verbal and non-verbal communication, participants get a more accurate interpretation of the information.
When attending an in-person meeting, all parties get the opportunity to interact with each other, without restrictions. You and your guests can network, brainstorm and build relationships in a far greater way than online. Interacting with each other in real life also helps to build trust and create an environment of transparency. There is more room for bonding and socialising in a F2F event.
In an environment where the only thing to interact with is the meeting itself, people will automatically be more focused. As long as participants are being informed or entertained, their engagement can last for long periods of time. In-Person meetings provide a richer, more targeted and more focused learning experience than nearly any virtual meeting. At the very minimum, we have an unwritten social contract to at least look like we are paying attention at a F2F assembly.
Time and Location issues
Finding a suitable time for all partakers to be in the same place can be quite a challenge. This makes it almost impossible to gather everyone. Maybe it is not even the schedule that is holding someone back to attend the event, but travelling to the location. Attending an in-person meeting takes much more effort than just attendance.
In most occasion, holding an in-person event creates costs. Depending on the event, catering and onsite staff is necessary. If you do not own a facility for the event, you will also have to rent a location. If managers need to travel to the event, flights, transport and accommodation costs are also due, which usually are not extremely low. Before holding an event, you should definitely always consider the costs and calculate if it is really worth it aka ROI.
Attending an online event is easier to fit into a tight schedule as there is no additional travel time. It only requires the setup time, which is still much less. The saved time can be spent for other activities, such as work. Furthermore if someone has a delay, it does not interrupt the meeting or distracts other participants.
The event can be global. No matter where members are, they can attend the event from the comfort of their home or office. This allows your business to have a higher audience and wider reach. There is also the possibility of recording the meeting and upload it online for people to watch after it took place, in case they cannot watch it live.
An easy way to save money on an event. Thanks to online platforms, the overall cost can be reduced up to 75% according to estimations. You can save on staff, setup, accommodations, travel costs and much more. Most video call platforms are free anyways, so the location does not cause any additional costs.
Virtual events are convenient and quicker. However, you do not get the opportunity to interact with people and network. While perhaps viewers get to engage with the content and the speaker, there will not be any interaction between them. The feeling of a social gathering gets lost through the screen.
Attending a meeting in-person limits chances to get distracted, whereas online viewers are in a different environment that might cause interruptions. At home, unless they are alone, housemates or family members may walk in or make noises, that make them lose focus on the meeting.
During a longer event they are also more likely to get distracted, as they have the option of doing something else alongside. The speaker will not be capable to keep everyone’s attention for a long period of time. Planners need to take this into consideration, when organizing the event.
Another aspect that might be distracting is technology. If the platform or internet connection are not cooperating, there can be interruptions during the event.
Despite the hope of some, that everything will go back to F2F gatherings after the pandemic, this situation presented us the advantages of virtual events. With all said and done, virtual events and their increasing capabilities provide a sophisticated tool to integrate into event marketing strategies. Nevertheless, personal contact is and has always been extremely important. Business owners need to evaluate each gathering and find out the appropriate method.
How Snob Monkey can help you…
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Written by Sandra Dominguez (Digital Marketing Intern)