Why the Event Industry Can’t Avoid the Digital Revolution Following the Pandemic

March 16, 2022

John D’Adamo

John D’Adamo is head of U.S. sales at VenuIQBased in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands. His appointment and goal of establishing VenuIQ’s American entity mark a pivotal moment in the company’s development.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 86% of business leaders surveyed claimed that artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming “mainstream technology” in their company, a leap that has largely been pushed by the pandemic as industries and consumers have been forced to adapt and change how they live and work.  

The event industry is not immune to this change. Although some organizers had already been taking advantage of similar technologies for years prior to the pandemic, those that have been slower to adapt can no longer afford to ignore the digital revolution that has occurred as a result of the pandemic, or they risk being left behind. Here’s why. 

Increased Event Visibility

Throughout the pandemic, we saw a dramatic increase in the uptake of digital events platforms across many industries, as organizers looked to provide rich and engaging events despite their activations being delivered remotely. This digital revolution transformed event visibility, quite literally overnight, opening the floor to audiences across the globe. 

Where talks, conferences and exhibitions were once best viewed in-person by those who could afford to travel and physically attend, they are now available to hundreds if not thousands more interested parties. 

This is good news for both organizers and attendees. Organizers can sell tickets to a global audience and advertise to a wider range of potential attendees, and those looking for an event to attend no longer need to consider logistics such as travel and accommodation.  

In failing to capitalize on the digital revolution, organizers would not only be limiting their event reach, but would also be missing out on ticket sales and profitability by continuing to run events that have limited capacity, no virtual alternative and fewer benefitting from the networking and guest speaking opportunities.

A Safer Event Environment

Advancements in digital technology have also provided a safer event environment, something that remains hugely important as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic and the emergence of new variants.  

Specifically, virtual events, social distancing and smaller capacities have created gaps in the event experience that event technology providers have been trying to bridge. 

The relationship between speaker and attendee, the delegate network and the togetherness of the events community all initially suffered at the beginning of the pandemic, but the rapid increase in the uptake of event technologies has provided a much-needed platform to stay connected, despite the many hurdles of COVID-19. 

Thanks to these advanced technologies, the event industry has been able to operate effectively throughout the pandemic with little to no disruptions or difficulty. If organizers were to go back to their “old ways” and cease capitalizing on the digital revolution post-pandemic, the events space would be opened up to the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and the potential for more event cancellations or postponements.

Broader Networking Opportunities

The pandemic and the emergence of hybrid and virtual event technology has presented organizers with the opportunity to innovate and broaden their events and networking opportunities. Borders have been removed and travel times eliminated, with the virtual element of events allowing speakers to engage with audiences from across the globe.  

The pandemic has pushed this technology into the limelight as not just a “nice to have” but rather an essential for event organizations. Not only does it allow audiences to connect with speakers from anywhere in the world, but it also lifts the limitations of physical attendance, giving audiences the freedom to find events that are relevant to them and their businesses, regardless of their location, and increasing the quality and breadth of the networking opportunities on offer. 

In an environment where many events may suffer from speakers and attendees forced to self-isolate or miss events due to illness or travel limitations, offering a virtual element is crucial in ensuring the event can go ahead with as much attendee engagement as possible and a huge virtual network of leaders and businesses that would not necessarily be afforded the chance to meet if the event was in-person only. 

A Safety Net for Delegates

The acceleration of digitalization in the events industry has created vast improvements to the wider events landscape. Events are more accessible and safer, and this has led to a significant reduction in cancellations compared to if events were held strictly in person. 

This “digital safety net” now surrounding events as seen with virtual conferences, interactive online Q&As and live on-screen sign language translators, to name a few, has been key in ensuring events are still profitable and has meant events are now harder to miss and easier to access.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

The digital revolution has afforded the events industry a way to stay in the conversation without sacrificing content, attendee numbers or engagement rates. 

While a hybrid event offering may be the future as the need for fully virtual activations subsides, a reliance on strictly in-person activations is set to be a thing of the past with 71% of event organizers planning virtual or hybrid and 0% planning for face-to-face-only events, according to a VenuIQ poll.

Organizers who turn their backs on advancing technology now are likely to suffer from all the prior issues associated with solely in-person events, while others will continue to develop and innovate to stay one step ahead.

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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact