As hybrid events dominate and event management adopts a phygital reality, event tech companies and their offerings gain a seat at the table of customer experience. Navigating through the virtual ecosystem of multiple simultaneous events, attendees are no longer chained to one place and one event. This makes the task of event management companies much harder. They need to capture, captivate and sustain customer interest in a time when attention spans are dwindling and technology can become easily confusing
Speaking at BW Event Tech Summit, event tech platform providers and facilitators opined that the landscape of virtual events is an industry still in its nascent stages. Birthed almost 6-8 months ago, the industry is rapidly evolving with emerging infrastructural changes and customer understanding.
Ganesh Pande, Co-founder, TECHXP singles out technology and infrastructure at the core of this evolving industry. “Evolution of technology and infrastructure are the most critical factors. The reason being that, if we win today, it’s because technology is evolving and secondly, the internet infrastructure,” he says. He notes how the same technology though available before, was not needed and now it is the level of virtual engagement and content that drives the events industry.
The Needs Of A New Era
Vishal Puri, the Co-founder of SPALBA believes that the rising customer consciousness and environmental attention also aid the adoption of virtual events. He evidences that people now have a choice on the kind of event they want to attend and how they will attend it. He remarks, “We have to have formats which are more sustainable and which deliver the same experiences that are much more lower in carbon footprint and in hybrid format this can be made possible, very easily”
But sustainability is not the only factor that has recently emerged. Surging over time is the internet and mobile phone penetration in the country that has given new life to many industries.
“India internet penetration is already 50 percent of our population and most of them already access the internet from mobile phones. So mobile phone is the real venue. In today's virtual age you can you can do whatever kind of event and any kind of experience can be experienced. And a large audience is accessible because a lot of data is available and many are accessing these through those mobile phones,” explains Sachin Talwar, the Director Streamy Tech and WOW Events.
Piyush Gupta, President of Kestone believes that the customer is changing and event tech companies must be cognizant of it and not just approach events clinically from a B2B perspective. He factors in that customers can now access multiple events from one place and in order for them to choose one particular event, the level of customization and experience afforded is important.
“Today, customer can get easily lost. So how do I go about customizing it making it more experiential and make it in the limited time available? Previously physical events used to be all day, in an 8-hour event, the customer is not going anywhere and at the end of it offers feedback. But in virtual, people move out and it’s important to have a brief duration of the session. Never have your mind set that one customer is going to attend all of the event,” Piyush elaborates.
Anubhav Bajpai who is the CEO and Founder of VouchPro adds that virtual is also space where brand communication is evolving. Borrowing from his experience of conducting virtual showcases and virtual malls he adds, “Properties that are traditionally physical properties, like some many other properties are now available online.” He remarks how one of his recent virtual shopping mall for a leading Indian private bank saw 3.5 million transactions. He posits that the future is in 360 degree live tracking in the same location where customers can visit the stall that appeals to them. He also sees a market for the use of video APIs and AI in conjunction where data will give a better understanding of the customer.
It is fairly certain that virtual events are here to stay and they are much cheaper than physical events, making the challenge much harder for event tech platforms that physically used to garner more monetary value. The key would be to accept that improvement in infrastructure and standardizing aspects that a not customer-facing would be cost-cutting. Event tech platforms must brace themselves for the democratization of virtual events and become technology companies that understand experience and not merely event management companies that manage events.