The future of events: in-person versus virtual

There’s no doubt that the last two years have thrown us a curveball when it comes to organising and attending events.

Since restrictions eased, we’ve slowly reintroduced in-person events to our calendar. We started small, with the Innovation and Healthcare event in August. This was well received and we tested the waters again with a slightly larger in-person Ransomware event in November.

Of course, it was fantastic to see everyone who attended, and it made a welcome change to see people face-to-face. Zoom calls are no match for proper catch-ups and conversations.
It was apparent, however, that the threat of covid was still very much at the forefront of people’s minds. Understandably, people still felt wary about travelling and attending large gatherings.

It remains to be seen whether in-person events will be the preference in 2022. But one thing is certain: virtual events have forever changed the way in which organisations will host and engage with their audience.

Could it be, then, that the future of events rests on the blend between smaller in-person gatherings and virtual sessions?

Three cybersecurity industry professionals have their say.

 

Kelly Allen, CMO at Core to Cloud Ltd

“As a marketing department, we were not prepared for what 2020 had in store. Our previous in-person events had been hugely successful and this is where we’d placed all of our focus. We knew that our website was merely a landing page and our digital presence didn’t do us justice as a business or who we are as people.

2020 forced us to change our approach to events and to reinvent our marketing strategy.

In May 2020, we ran our first virtual festival, followed by virtual round tables, and gin and wine tasting to offer fun, social networking opportunities. We also worked hard on how we wanted to be perceived by those who were unable to meet us in person.

This started with our messaging, our brand, our website and extended to every touchpoint we could think of. It also forced us to pursue the projects we had always put on hold, like launching our own podcast.

We still love events and consider them a speciality of ours. But we know that they’re changing and a hybrid model for all our events will be the ‘new normal’ going forward.

Knowledge is so important and if we can make our events accessible to more people, then we’re up for the challenge. Watch this space!”

 

Jennie Rogers, Vectra:

“In the early days of the pandemic, people were keen to attend virtual events where they could digest the content on demand at a time convenient for them. Now, there’s an appetite to attend in person events as I think everyone has missed networking with their peers.

We are not back to the pre-pandemic levels of attendance yet, and many events are still being postponed due to restrictions and general uncertainty. Larger industry events will suffer for a long time to come, but I do feel smaller events will return to normal during 2022”.

 

Diane Ashfield, Netwrix:

“During the pandemic, we all had to try to make our virtual events as engaging and personable as possible to avoid Zoom-fatigue. But we’ve discovered that these just don’t offer the networking or peer-to-peer engagement that’s possible in the physical world – regardless of the creative theme or amount of alcohol involved! Whilst many people say they have a huge appetite for getting out to in-person events again, the reality seems to be that there are varying degrees of comfort and desire to attend in-person events.

I believe we’ll need to adapt to a new post-pandemic world by experimenting with physical event formats (e.g. longer breaks, shorter sessions, more opportunities to network, etc), but also by having clear health and safety protocols to help everyone feel confident about getting back out there again.”

 

What do you think? Do you miss in-person events? Or do you prefer the safety and convenience of a webinar?

Whatever your current preference is, Core to Cloud has a host of in-person and virtual events coming up in 2022. To find out more about what we’ve got in store, check out our events page!

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