Virtual Events in the Post-Pandemic Future

Virtual Events

Informa Connect is a global provider and organizer of live events that specialize in providing people access to expert content in niche topics, but the onset of the pandemic forced it to cancel many events. However, it quickly adapted, creating a winning virtual events platform. Now, through its “digital events only” brand, AQMEN 365, Informa Connect continues to do what it has always done best: deliver superior niche content from experts to those who need it.

Informa Connect is just one of the many who decided to shift to virtual events because of the pandemic. The COVID-19 global health emergency was so relentlessly unforgiving, organizations had to go virtual. They had no choice. It was either that or not hold events altogether.

Fast forward to two years later, virtual events have come into their own. They’re no longer just a substitute until something better comes along. Right now, they are the norm and have become a valid alternative to in-person events.

The Future Is Bright for Virtual Events

In 2020, the global virtual events market was valued at USD 94.04 billion. It has grown to USD 114.12 billion in 2021 and is forecast to become worth USD 504.76 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate of 23.7% from 2021 and 2028.

Yes, the virtual events industry is immense, and it has enormous growth potential. This is an indication in itself that virtual events — as a method for holding events — are here to stay.

The pandemic was the catalyst that propelled organizations and solutions providers to accelerate their virtual events platforms and communication tools. The pandemic drove the widespread adoption of these platforms and tools.

However, the virtual events market gained momentum of its own until, today, it no longer matters if COVID-19 finally ceases to be a concern. Virtual events are here to stay.

Hybrid Is the Future

Naturally, once the physical distancing and travel restrictions due to the pandemic are lifted, organizations will start holding in-person events once again.

People are excited about being with others, talking to other people face-to-face, dining with them, and socializing. More and more in-person events will be scheduled, and more people will attend them.

However, since virtual events have successfully proved their mettle during the pandemic, organizations will actively incorporate them into their events. Thus, the post-pandemic future of events is likely to be a mish-mash of in-person and virtual events, the so-called hybrid events.

Hybrid events combine elements of in-person events with elements of virtual events. However, there’s no set rule as to what constitutes a hybrid event, as its iteration is likely to vary on a case-to-case basis.

A hybrid event could translate to a main, in-person event with virtual satellite events. Or, it could be one big event where participants may choose to attend either in person or virtually.

It could also be an in-person conference where some speakers are not physically present. Another possible scenario is an in-person event where participants can download materials and handouts and engage with the speaker from a virtual events dashboard.

The possibilities are virtually endless.

However, what is clear is that events will become so much better when they are enhanced by virtual elements.

The Virtues of Virtual Events

According to AQMEN365, their research indicates that people want “short yet insightful events” that engage the participants and deliver value.

Finally, the need to travel a long distance, schedule conflicts, or the perception that an event will take too much time can be reason enough to reject an event.

Virtual events — and hybrid events — shine in this regard.

Short and Sweet

Virtual events are typically designed to be short, or at least shorter than in-person events. Organizations know people are likely not to stay glued to their screens for the entire day. Even four hours of screen time for a virtual event can be challenging.

Thus, virtual events are often preferable to long-drawn out in-person events in this regard as they are often short and sweet.

When in-person events come back post-pandemic, it would be wise to design events so they can be as short and sweet as virtual events. While the entire convention could stretch out for days, the individual events or sessions that comprise the convention could be staggered to take place in short stretches.

This will ensure lengthy breaks in between. Thus, people will have time to socialize and network with other participants, a must in in-person events. The short sessions will also be more attractive for both in-person and virtual attendees.


Virtual events take place on virtual platforms. They can often be recorded and made available later for on-demand consumption.

If an event participant did not hear the speaker clearly during the live session, he can log on to his virtual events dashboard and replay the speaker’s discussion. He can replay the event as many times as he wants and needs.

Now, this almost immediately available on-demand playback is something that in-person events could not provide, at least not as quickly or seamlessly. As such, expect in-person events to adapt this functionality of virtual events in the future.


Attending in-person, out-of-town conferences can be exciting for some, but they are inconvenient or too tiring for others. They are rather expensive, too.

Meanwhile, you can attend virtual events wherever you are. With good internet connectivity, you can be in Fiji while attending a conference in Las Vegas. You won’t need to spend all that money on hotel accommodation, airplane travel and other related expenses.

Want to attend a modern accounting standards keynote? Oh, but wait. You already have a prior engagement. Fortunately, since the event is taking place virtually, it will be available to watch on-demand later. Thus, you sign up for the event anyway.

Virtual Makes Better

The virtual events industry is currently worth more than a hundred billion dollars, and it is expected to grow to approximately five times its current size by 2028. Indeed, virtual events are here to stay even when the pandemic ends.

Event organizers will be wise to incorporate everything that virtual events offer to make in-person events shorter, more efficient and, overall, better.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.