The COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we knew it, including the business world we’d become so accustomed to. Long office hours were exchanged for remote work, in-person networking events turned into Zoom meetings, and the typical business attire was swapped for sweatpants and facemasks.
All of these changes came suddenly and the world adapted. Thankfully, borders are opening up and vaccine roll-out has been a success. Now, the question of whether we’ll go back to the old ways of face-to-face living remains.
We’ve collected 30+ of the most up-to-date virtual events statistics defining the future of virtual events. Take a look for an idea of how your employees—and the other businesses you work with—feel about keeping business online.
How do people generally feel about virtual events?
Virtual events boomed during the pandemic—and it looks like they’re here to stay.
People quickly adapted to the new way of doing business, and virtual meetings are now a key part of any business day. In fact, virtual events saw a growth of 1000% since the coronavirus hit the news.
Let’s see how people feel about virtual events two years into the pandemic:
- 75% of the event organizers surveyed think they’ll be hosting virtual events in 2022. However, 78% want to return to in-person events once it’s safe to do so (Respiray).
- In 2022, 40% of events are projected to happen online (99Firms).
- Based on a survey among global event marketers, virtual events are projected to rise by 5% in 2022 (Statista).
- Hybrid events will become more frequent, as nearly 30% of all trade shows in 2021 were a mix of remote and in-person (Statista).
- 62% of event planners will continue to accommodate online attendees by organizing hybrid events in 2022 (vFairs).
- 45% of B2B marketers located in the US and Canada say live streaming would be the most important virtual offering for their events in 2022. 38% said it’s mobile access to the live event, and 37% said it was to have better branding opportunities (Statista).
Attendee engagement and event experience
During the pandemic, virtual conferences, summits, and other virtual events were a replacement for in-person conferences, networking events, and other important physical events.
Data and statistics show that the business world is eager to return to in-person events. Let’s take a look at who’s attending virtual events, why they’re going, and the general attendance stats we need to consider moving forward:
- The average no-show percentage of virtual events is 35%, slightly higher than in-person events (Marketic).
- Over 80% of people take part in virtual events for educational purposes (SocialMediaHat).
- The next biggest reason for taking part in virtual events is networking—which is the number one reason people attend in-person events (SocialMediaHat).
- 46% of event marketers say the main goal of virtual events is to increase lead generation and nurturing (Markletic).
- 68% of B2B marketers say live events help generate the most leads (Marketing Charts).
- On average, online attendees watch 68% of a 20-minute or longer session (Bizzabo).
- Up to 68% of attendees rewatch content from events they’ve already attended (Vimeo).
- The two biggest challenges when it comes to virtual events are audience engagement and interaction (Markletic).
- Technical problems affect up to 38% of marketers when hosting virtual events (Markletic).
- 4% of virtual event marketers say that the average cost per attendee is between $500 - $1000 (Markletic).
Are webinars the future?
Webinars–which are seminars made online–became popular during the pandemic, but they proved to be something that will last much longer. In fact, over 83% of U.S. marketers find webinars effective for lead generation, creating new clients, and earning purchases, and 45% think it’s the most effective demand generation tactic.
Compared with other virtual events, webinars actually get better conversion rates. Additionally, they prove to be very successful when you take into account the metrics of leads achieved per cost of the webinar.
Let’s look at some important statistics that show us just how useful webinars are:
- On average, webinars generate between 500-1,000 leads (Zippia).
- The average webinar attendee conversion rate is 55% (Zippia).
- As of 2020, the global webinar market size reached $1.57 billion (Zippia).
- More than 50% of B2B workers say they watch webinars every week (Thrive My Way).
- According to customers, on-demand viewing is the feature in webinars that they like the most (Thrive My Way).
- Up to 57% of marketers say they host more than 50 webinars per year, this number is likely to increase with more and more people working remotely (Zippia).
- Up to 15% of registrations to webinars come through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (Thrive My Way).
- Normally, webinars get 40% to 50% attendance rates, but up to 45% of views will happen in the 10 days following the webinar (Thrive My Way).
- 91% of marketers who use webinars find them a successful and key part of their marketing strategy (Growth Marketing Pro).
- Webinars are pretty effective for sales—2% and 5% of attendees will make a purchase right after a webinar (Zippia).
- Up to 73% of B2B webinar attendees become qualified leads–making it one of the most cost-effective online events there are (Zippia).
Zoom: the go-to for virtual events
Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have seen a wild increase in use since the pandemic. Zoom meeting minutes increased from 101 billion to 2.6 trillion in just three months. Considering Zoom is now hosting 3.3 trillion annual minute meetings—it’s a tool we’re all very used to.
This virtual event platform is used in both the corporate world and in people’s day-to-day lives—89% of users use it for work purposes, while 63% use it for conversations with family and friends. However, let’s see the impact the event technology has had, and how it boomed during the turbulent times of the pandemic and after:
- Zoom had a massive profit jump going from $21.7 million in 2019 to $671.5 million in 2020 (Web Tribunal).
- Zoom was one of the fastest-growing apps in 2020 and 2021, with a 2900% growth in active meeting participants (Matthew Woodward).
- Zoom’s total revenue for 2021 increased a whopping 326% year over year to $2.7 billion (Matthew Woodward).
- The platform is available in 90 countries and more than 65,000 companies and organizations use it (Web Tribunal).
- The platform has over 500,000 business customers (Backlinko).
- On December 31st of 2019, there were 10 million daily meeting participants. On the 21st of April 2020, there were 300million (Matthew Woodward).
- During the pandemic, 56% of employees surveyed reported being on camera during meetings for 1 to 3 hours a day, with over 30% reporting in the higher ranges, up to 8 hours per day (Virtira).
- It allows up to 1000 meeting participants with its Large Meeting add on (Zoom).
- 55% of the platform’s high-revenue customers ($100,000+) began with a single employee’s free trial (Zippia).
- 33% of survey respondents reported that it was company or departmental policy that cameras be on for all meetings and a further 28% reported that it was up to the meeting leader (Virtira).
- During the pandemic, Zoom offered free services to 125,0000 schools from 25 different countries (Zippia).
- 92% of companies continued to host virtual and hybrid events even after physical events resumed (Splash).
- Nearly half of professionals working remotely (49%), which translates to 32 million individuals, reported a high degree of exhaustion as a direct result of numerous daily video calls (Virtira).
- Researchers found that women reported a "significantly higher" level of Zoom fatigue than men. Among the more than 10,000 study participants, about 14% of women self-reported feeling either very or extremely fatigued after video meetings compared to roughly 5.5% of men (CBS News).
- 37% of respondents reported that being on camera during video meetings helped them feel less lonely (Virtira).
Virtual or face-to-face: how do employees feel about the new normal?
During the pandemic, virtual events were the only way to coordinate corporate and networking events—both key aspects for building and maintaining new business relationships. However, now that airports are open and handshakes are back on the table, people definitely want to enjoy face-to-face relationships again.
Here are some key statistics outlining how people feel about virtual and in-person business:
- 64% of people think the key to trust is human contact, with 53% saying they trust more in-person sales than online (TravelPerk).
- In a survey made in 2021, 60% of workers say the best way to learn on the job is being around colleagues (TravelPerk).
- 40% of survey participants reported that their organization has not communicated a post-pandemic vision (McKinsey).
- 47% of survey participants agree that the lack of a clear vision or plan for post-pandemic work is causing them concern or anxiety (McKinsey).
- 56% of 16–24-year-olds express their concern about imposter syndrome when working from home–compared to only 11% of over 55s (TravelPerk).
- 21% of employees will continue working fully remotely following the pandemic, and 38% expect a mix of remote and in-office work (Canva).
- 53% of respondents say their industry needs in-person meetings to survive (TravelPerk).
- The HR industry would not survive without in-person meetings, according to 67% of people surveyed (TravelPerk).
- 60% of workers admit to doing more prep for in-person meetings than they do for online–this is a clear sign of what the results might be for each type of meeting (TravelPerk).
- Introverts are 19% more likely to opt to not return to the office (Canva).
- 40% of those surveyed say business travel will be important to them when looking for a new job (TravelPerk).
- 77% of employees feel work collaboration during the pandemic has been more challenging than before, and 84% say they need new and improved technologies to collaborate virtually (Canva).
Virtual events are here to stay
The virtual events industry is a valuable option and will be a key feature moving forward, but it won’t remain the only option for event planning.
Successful virtual events have proven to have a higher event ROI since the event budget needed is lower. Although ticket pricing is often lower, virtual events allow for increased event registrations and aren’t confined by the capacity limitations of venues.
Physical events, on the other hand, have proven to have better results in terms of sponsorship—brands like to have their banner and products in real life rather than just a slide on a presentation. There’s also higher engagement amongst stakeholders, benefits for lead generation, and increased customer retention.
Virtual events are definitely here to stay—whether that’s webinars or hybrid events. However, there’s definitely a desire to return to face-to-face events and the old way of doing business.
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