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Virtual experiences – on the rise and here to stay?

Virtual experiences – on the rise and here to stay?

Unsurprisingly, online experiences and virtual events have exploded in popularity. In the face of adversity, these experiences have made it possible to meet the demand to stay connected.

Today’s consumer is not just looking for opportunities to engage virtually, but they are actually expecting it – whether it be attending business meetings or engaging in brand experiences.

This has changed the face of the events industry. What we consider a successful “in-person” event cannot simply translate into the virtual space seamlessly. Similarly, going virtual doesn’t mean we should compromise on the experiential element.

Virtual events offer a new set of opportunities. Creating these experiences requires distinct strategies and tools that consider experience design and the way audiences will engage with brands and with each other.

Virtual events create the opportunity to:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Expand global reach
  • Explore new technologies

Gone are the days when travel time and costs were inhibitors. Not to mention, by removing unavoidable spend from in-person events such as F&B and venue costs, brands are able to re-invest this budget into technology and innovation.

When designed correctly, virtual events enable social connectivity across a diverse audience, where new relationships and ideas can form.

This was the case with Marsh’s internal “Growth Summit” event, which our event specialist had the opportunity to conceptualise, produce, execute and manage.

Marsh MEA hosts this internal conference to discuss upcoming business priorities. Usually,  attendance is restricted to 150 senior-level executives. Although this remained thel vision for the event, once the pandemic hit Marsh quickly adapted to support their 3000+ MENA employees working remotely. They realised that they had a unique opportunity to engage the full workforce and actually involve them in the business’ growth strategy.

The three-day virtual conference featured 120 speakers from 17 countries and a virtual exhibition hall with over 90 booth representatives. The event was attended by over 2500 employees. Program highlights even included activities such as daily yoga, panel discussions and a gamification competition.

So, as the world slowly transitions back to “normal”, where will we see the value in virtual events? While there is no replacement for the visceral feeling we get from live experiences, virtual events are here to stay. Brands can now capitalize on the benefits of both in-person and virtual experiences by considering a hybrid model.

Virtual, live or hybrid, our approach has not changed. We seek to create seamless, innovative and emotive experiences. The Marsh MEA Growth Summit was a great example. In the words of one of the attendees, “When the event was being planned, I found it very difficult to imagine how it would come together. How would we communicate as we can’t be there in person? This has probably been the most powerful engagement experience, reaching each and every colleague. This itself is an example of what ‘Possibility’ could mean when we think bold. Well done for leading by example.” – Gaurav Bhatnagar, Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Marsh