The chapters of World Wars that we read in history books are not exactly pleasant page-turners. Yet, even amidst the depths of tragedy and disaster; humanity found a way to create hope, survival, resilience and some names like – Berlin Candy Bomber a.k.a the Chocolate Flier.

Bomber planes threw candies for children in war-torn areas! What an idea! But more than that – what an execution!

So when, due to Corona fears and precautions, some major global business events and expos have started folding; it is not a time to go into hibernation. It is a time to go into an extra happy, positive and creative mode.

Yes, RSA Security’s conference and Game Developers Conference saw a lot of tech majors pulling out. Yes, Barcelona is eerily silent because the mobility Mecca MWC has been called off. Yes, Google’s big bash, Microsoft’s awaited event, Adobe’s annual splash, Red Hat’s fireside, Emtech Asia, Hong Kong art fair and even Geneva International Motor Show would not see glasses clinking and conversations flowing this year.

But then, some earnest and imaginative players have already found a way to the candies. Right in the middle of all this dead silence.

Silver Lining Crowd

The headlines, when combed carefully, will also reveal what Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Okta’s Oktane etc. are doing to get past the storm. They would still have their business networking and event action – albeit, virtually. Yes, if the Game Developers Conference could not be attended, Facebook is still going to make announcements and outreach happen via virtual events. There is Morgan Stanley’s London event, there is the Virtual Cycle Conference, there is BMW’s huddle – all making sure that if the shoulder-rubbing got cancelled, a virtual handshake is still possible. That’s what makes Daimler and Volkswagen still go ahead with their product launches and sales buzz. This is why Art Basel found a way to survive despite the Hong Kong exhibition hearing nothing but crickets.

It’s not only brilliant but also common sense. In fact, it would have been a tad ridiculous if these business mavens did not pick the virtual course. Come on! We are living in the post-digital age, strapped with smartphones, fitted with wearables, reclined against 4G-5G streaming networks, and spoilt for choices in an AI, AR and VR-embedded world.

Having a virtual event should not have been the plan B. But so be it.

Because let’s face it. No big business company would put its bucks and time on an idea if there are no business outcomes.

The Chocolate Flier Delivers

Virtual events do help businesses cut costs, save travel time, and avoid contingencies like the ones the world is fighting right now. But there is more to them.

  1. They offer a burst of ways and metrics to get spot-on when it comes to measuring audience participation, tracking eyeballs, deepening presence and monitoring engagement. In a big auditorium full of many people, some may snooze easily, without being spotted. But the minute one logs out of an event chat-room or becomes passive, the monitor beeps in a virtual event. You always know who is there and who is not.
  2. Virtual events are surprisingly flexible and wide in the formats they allow to structure the event’s various parts and goals in.  From one-way presentations to intimate sit-downs in chat-rooms to small group interactions – yes, everything.
  3. These events are truly and effortlessly, bespoke. Customisation can happen inexpensively; not for one segment of the audience but every individual, every part of the day, and every mood of the part.
  4. Avatars, storyboards, immersive templates and augmented-reality tools allow for creating a real-event like atmosphere and interaction even when everyone is sitting in their pyjamas many miles apart.
  5. People can participate at their convenience of time, geography ad schedule.
  6. Business networking and collaboration can still be taken off-stream once initial interactions are set in motion.
  7. Virtual events give more texture, style, buzz and sizzle to product announcements, keynotes and new launches.
  8. The issue of scale and fatigue just never pops – it’s all virtual. It’s all elastic.
  9. That’s not it. The post-event value and ROI of a virtual affair is far-reaching and huge: live-streaming, social media feeds, and a ready archive of content to tap any time.

This explains why Technavio’s global virtual event market forecast of 21.97% growth between 2017 and 2021 could find its biggest tipping point this year. This is a global meetings-and-events market of $840 billion (Beroe Inc’s estimates) that we are talking about here. It may soon change into Plan A for a lot of business teams worldwide. And not just because there is a virus keeping people indoors. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 40% of formal meetings would be by virtual concierges and analytics. It is a hint of a new virtual sky approaching business networking and collaboration space.

Virtual events could just be the Uncle Wiggly Wings dropping chocolates for children who are ready and brave to catch them.

Let the Operation Little Vittles begin. Business is always war, in a way.

PS: Buzznation is in the process of helping businesses around the world beat the Corona blues and win the customer. CLICK HERE to get in touch with our team to book a session on how you can create, launch and manage virtual events.