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Discussing Virtual/Hybrid Events

While the world is getting back to normalcy, we can’t deny that COVID-19 impacted the ways employees communicate, travel, and attend events. With tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, it was possible to have these communications again from anywhere one happened to be. Even though we are in recovery, we must discuss the future of digital engagement and its place in society.

Before discussing the future of digital engagement, it would be helpful to take a look at the impact that it has on certain avenues of our lives.

  • Communication
    • In recent years data was collected on what methods of communication have been used the most in recent years. The results found that the most used method is email at 26%. Following that video conferencing(Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) comes in second most used at 20%. The other methods will be listed below.
      • Regular phone calls: 17%
      • Messaging Platforms(Slack, Google Chat, etc.): 12%
      • Audio Conferencing: 7%
      • Other(unspecified): 18%
  • Travel
    • Moving on to how digital engagement is affecting traveling, when frequent business travelers were asked if they would resume traveling, 42% said that they “will never return to the road.” This result, taken in 2022, is quite a jump from 39% in 2021. This behavior change is also affecting the business travel’s share of hotel revenue across the board which has dropped 9% and is expected to continue to drop. It makes sense given that virtual platforms eliminate the reason why people travel for business in the first place.
  • Events
    • In 2020, 70% of physical events were switched to hybrid or virtual due to the severity of the pandemic. However, in 2022, there wasn’t a complete switch back to physical events due to the rising popularity of virtual events. When observing prospective events being planned.
      • 40% of events are planned to be virtual
      • 35% of even are planned to be hybrid
      • 72% of professionals plan to attend virtual events at least as often as they attended physical events before COVID-19
  • Growth of Digital Platforms
    • Because digital engagement is rapidly growing, digital platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become the industry standard for virtual events. Here are the stats concerning the growth of these platforms:
      • From 2019-2020, Zoom’s daily meeting participants increased by 35 times, and more than 45 billion minutes of webinars were hosted by 2020.
      • For Teams, their annual users grew 13.5 times from 2019-2022. In just 2020 alone, Microsoft Team reach a growth of 894%
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However, while the idea of virtual/hybrid engagement sounds convenient and potentially the new way to conduct events, there are some cons to this medium of communication. The first point is that staring at a screen for so long can lead to fatigue and frustration. Moreover, if the platform is designed poorly, it can lead to greater challenges like technology issues, poor communication, loss of productivity, etc.

To bring the subject to health, there are some other risks to keep in mind. During any meeting, each participant is looking at everyone at once, rather unlike in an in-person meeting where one’s eyes move around from one person to another. Furthermore, large faces on a screen for extended periods have been known to cause overstimulation in the brain leading to a harder time focusing.

Though despite the challenges of interacting digitally people ultimately prefer attending events online. Oftentimes, people will combine the best of both worlds with hybrid events. With this method of event, separate experiences in which audiences are connected by the content they’re assessing. Hybrid events are very popular because participants both in person and online get their own unique experience thus creating the best experience for every audience.

To sum the discussion up, while digital engagement is a versatile medium to communicate your message, it’s not a perfect replacement for in-person interaction. Though in the years to come we are gradually perfecting the future of communication as we speak.

© Scoop Media

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