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The exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis forced certain extremely rapid changes upon brands around the world. One of those changes was a widespread switch from in-person events to virtual ones, experienced via video conferencing technologies such as Zoom, as lockdowns meant that many traditional physical events venues were not even open for business. 

But now that the COVID-19 situation is gradually entering into history – and moving on from directly lived experience – for many of us, will the demand for virtual events also recede? Or will they be a permanent – and prominent – fixture? 

It would seem, from many statistics that have been released, that the latter will prove to be the case, rather than the former. Indeed, one market research firm – Allied Market Research – recently published a report indicating that the international virtual events industry is set to reach a value of $1,024.8 billion (£795.24 billion) by 2031. 

Given that the global market for virtual events was valued at $306.3 billion in 2021, such a change would equate to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% for the period from 2022 to 2031.

But what is fuelling such a rise – and what are the implications for in-person events? 

As Allied Market Research noted, there are various factors – beyond the obvious one of the sudden onset of the COVID-19 crisis back in 2019/20 – that can be cited as having powered the stellar growth of virtual events. 

One such factor is the sheer cost-effectiveness of such events. After all, there is something to be said for any kind of technology that enables a brand to hold a meeting, conference, or other gathering without the need for the organiser to pay to hire a venue or catering firm. And that’s without touching on the savings that would-be attendees can also achieve on travel and accommodation. 

But as we have previously touched on here at BrandWarriors, including in our look at the fast-emerging “phygital” retail world, it would be a mistake to perceive this situation as merely one of in-person events versus virtual events. 

What might be somewhat likelier to happen in the long run, is the merging of physical and digital retail spheres, in all manner of interesting and not always expected ways. That could mean future brand promotional events utilising an in-depth mix of engaging face-to-face and online aspects. As a result, would-be attendees of an event who are physically nearby, as well as those located on the other side of the world, will both be able to enjoy meaningful participation in the given event. 

In the more immediate term, investments such as a dedicated event website or app will help nudge your own brand in that “hybrid” direction across the promotional events that it organises. 

Much the same can be said of working alongside a reputable promotional marketing agency that is able to help staff your event with the most “phygital-capable” brand ambassadors, promo actors, performers, tech staff, and other personnel. Such staff will be vital for elevating the experiences that both in-person and virtual attendees have of your next brand promo event. 

So, are in-person events “going away” or even “out of fashion”? 

The short answer to that question is, absolutely not. Nonetheless, the ongoing rise of virtual events even long after the peak of the pandemic, might go some way to influencing how your organisation works with the next promotional marketing agency that it partners with. 

If you are contemplating the merits of making BrandWarriors that marketing agency, the current moment could be the time to make your move; we would be delighted to discuss how we could most effectively work with you on your brand’s upcoming project.


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