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Chart of the week: how fast are events going digital?

The event industry is changing rapidly. Each week we illustrate how this is happening and what it means for your business.

Less than half of organisers have developed a digital event strategy for exhibitions, according to an industry survey.

The 27th UFI Global Barometer estimates only 47% of event producers have built such a plan for individual existing shows or products, despite the ongoing threat of coronavirus restrictions to physical events.

The poll also puts the figure for this transformation among all events businesses at 40%, with only 24% of venues and 18% of service providers having done so.

This overall number was higher in North America – at 57% – and lowest in the Middle East and Africa, where only 34% have developed a digital event strategy.

Other findings from the survey reveal only 23% of organisers developed a “transformation” plan for the whole company, 65% have added virtual services to existing exhibitions, 25% have launched digital products which are directly related to current shows and 12% have created a new high-ranking post to oversee this part of the business, such as a head of digital.

Behind the figures

Leading organisers have seen the benefits of implementing a digital strategy. It can help bring year-round monetisation opportunities and increase brand awareness for sponsors.

The shift to digital was happening slowly pre-pandemic, but the pause of in-person events has turbocharged this transformation. Now, it has become a key part of planning for innovative organisations.

This development is partly meant to “pandemic-proof” organisations, but is likely to remain an important part of successful business models post-coronavirus.

Read our complete guide to hybrid events.

What does this mean for organisers?

Ignoring the benefits of a strategy which includes in-person and digital events risks your business being left behind. Here’s why:

Engagement: Hybrid events allow you to significantly increase audience participation by reaching the right people across the globe – even when the industry is thrown into a crisis such as coronavirus. The greater accessibility offered by virtual events means there are endless opportunities to get more people signing up.

Pricing: Digital has been historically under-valued by exhibition organisers, who now need to re-balance the pricing of digital and in-person in their budgets. This can ensure that in the event of a show being cancelled, a healthy amount of revenue can still remain.

Measuring success: A hybrid event’s success can be measured by analysing post-event data, using technology such as ExpoPlatform. All virtual event metrics  can be captured such as profile views, engagement or directory searches. Physical event scans and in-person meeting data can also be stored for analysis and reporting purposes.

For more on this download ExpoPlatform’s Hybrid Blueprint ebook.