The future of events is virtual – even after Covid subsides

The pandemic has far-reaching effects on our ways of coming together, especially in terms of global interaction. Katri Makkonen writes about the positive sides of remote events, ones that we are not likely to give up anytime soon.

Everyone can’t wait for this Covid mess to be over. At some point, it thankfully will be. But there is something good that the pandemic will leave behind. The world has made an enormous digital leap, and in many ways we won’t go back to how things used to be. Remote work has become more commonplace and commuting has decreased. Depending on the need and situation, we will attend meetings no matter how far away we are for years to come.

This change is apparent and made concrete in events. At first, everybody will be thrilled to see other people and be really there in flesh. But all the while, seminars, webinars, convention, concerts and other events have permanently transformed. Meeting, getting to know and networking with people will continue to happen at physical locations, but on the other hand, distributing and receiving information, having conversations and even being sufficiently present can all be achieved virtually.

If a world-class expert is available for your seminar, but only remotely, do you say “Thanks, but no” or ”Yes, of course!”? Or what if top speakers are delivering their keynotes on highly interesting topics in the middle of a busy day – but on the other side of the world – do you make excuses and skip it or participate through the web? The future is hybrid, sometimes local, sometimes virtual.

When Covid struck over a year ago, the quick and inventive saw an opportunity to act. This is what happened at Miltton. Our digital natives in the Tallinn office realised that seminars and events can survive a short pause, but they eventually have to be kept going to keep the wheels of the economy from stalling even further. Thus, Miltton Contactless, a whole universe for virtual and hybrid events, was born.

The list of clients is impressive. In addition to small and bigger companies, even the EU and UN have come to recognise the possibilities of Contactless. Speakers and guests can take part from the comfort of their respective homes, while only the host and camera crew are in the studio. In addition, there are a number of ways to execute events, not forgetting holograms and virtual reality. The important and differentiating factor is interaction; it’s possible to present a question, comment or a whole statement remotely.

The event business has taken strides during these times, opening up new business opportunities. For example, the international weekly The Economist organised a virtual gathering for its readers together with Bill Gates. An astonishing 27,000 participants joined the event online. Coldplay’s Chris Martin organised a concert on Instagram and Youtube – with ten million viewers so far. We see that business logic has changed: instead of the largest convention hall at Messukeskus, the audience can be spread across all continents.

The leap is a part of global digitalisation. Devices become smaller and better, networks are switching to 5G. People want and can get all the information and amusement that they need with and on their mobile. For event organisers, this creates exciting possibilities as well as increasing competition. When the playing field is the whole world instead of your own country, it all boils down to quality. That is why product development needs to be constant.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, a year has elapsed when measured as time but a light year in terms innovation and technology development. I can’t even imagine what event solutions and events will look like 365 days from now.

Katri Makkonen is an award-winning journalist who has lately channeled her insights about society and media towards the communications landscape.

Miltton Contactless is a solution for hybrid virtual events that offers the technical aspects as well as content planning and event production, tailor-made.

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