If 2024 saw the rise of the virtual event, then 2024 will be the year that businesses worldwide truly embrace the versatility that they offer.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the remote working boom - a myriad of online conference platforms made their way to market, putting board meetings, seminars, even workplace training at our fingertips.

In this study - carried out back in August of last year - 500 senior marketers were asked a series of questions to reveal their strategy for events planning in 2024.

Among the study’s findings, 80% of respondents expected to run or participate in hybrid events in 2024, whilst 64% expect to increase their 2024 event marketing budgets compared to 2024.

Though online conference platforms provided us all with the tools needed to continue working as the world battened down the hatches, the sheer range of choice between platforms can be somewhat of a blessing and a curse.

Not to mention that the vast majority of 'free' versions don't provide the necessary level of professionalism that many business owners and events organisers have come to expect in 2024.

By working with a trusted partner and experienced events organiser like MDA Training, you can rest assured that your virtual event will be engaging and run smoothly from start to finish.

Moreover, by utilising our vast experience in both traditional and online events, you'll be able to leverage the flexibility that hybrid events have to offer.

The virtual event trends to look out for in 2024

By definition, virtual events are anything held online, whether a conference or webinar, live stream or training event - your intended audience will be sat behind their screen.

Instantly expanding your audience from how many seats a typical venue can hold - to how many people worldwide have access to the internet and a screen of some description.

Throughout 2024 we helped organisers and businesses adopt new technologies and combine them with traditional event elements, providing their audiences with interactive and engaging experiences.

Based on our clients’ feedback across last year, our highly interactive approach is what sets MDA apart from our competitors.

We provide experiential digital activities and business simulations alongside premium content, led by industry-leading speakers - to provide a versatility that is unattainable outside of the virtual environment.

Below are five of the most popular events that we helped organise throughout last year, that we believe will shape virtual and hybrid events throughout 2024 and beyond.

Conferences & Webinars

Moving conferences and webinars online allows you to reach a wider audience for your speaker to educate and inform about the topic at hand. Now that group gatherings are limited due to social distancing measures; virtual conferences are the next logical step.

Virtual and hybrid events provide a stage for multiple speakers across your event, while also allowing for important breakout sessions and small group classes through virtual 'rooms', where attendees can discuss and consolidate their learning.

During shorter webinars or a talk from a single speaker, the advent of live chat features allows attendees to discuss the topic at hand and even ask questions in real-time - creating a far more immersive experience than a traditional seminar.

We also utilise unique experiential digital activities such as our DigiPark business simulation. Simulation helps break up conference sessions into more manageable sections, encourages networking, reinforces key messages, and compels delegates to learn interactively. Find out more about DigiPark in the learning lab.

Training workshops

Take the success of the millions, if not billions of instructional videos on YouTube and other popular streaming sites as an example here - and you can see how running a hands-on workshop would lend itself particularly well to a virtual environment.

Depending on the knowledge you're trying to impart, the event's organisation may need to include a list of materials or tools published beforehand.

But whether you intend to teach woodwork or a coding language - pointing a camera at yourself whilst you wax lyrical about your specialism is just as effective as a traditional workshop.

On top of the ease of production, virtual training workshops allow the organiser to create a series of classes on various topics and promote relevant courses within the content. Increasing the potential audience size and in turn, improving potential revenue.

Taking an experiential approach to training workshops, like providing real-world simulations and activities, also provides a safe environment for applying and embedding learning.

Live streaming & pre-recorded content

Most online conference platforms, like Webex and Zoom, provide live streaming features. When organising your virtual event, including a live stream, is a great way to engage with your audience while promoting a sense of immediacy.

Pre-recorded content enables you to include elements that aren't possible in live streaming, like video editing features that provide a more professional sheen to your content.

By combining pre-recorded content with live streams throughout your event, you will reap the rewards from both elements - encouraging attendees to stay tuned and not miss the live segments, while grabbing their attention with impressive video edits in-between.

Onboarding & company training

Whether your company is a multinational conglomerate or an aspiring SME on the up and up, training new hires or existing employees can be difficult under normal circumstances, nevermind during a global pandemic.

The benefit to virtual onboarding and online company training is that all of your content is in a central location, easily accessed by anyone, whenever they need it.

Whether that includes training videos, legal documents or questionnaires - all materials can be easily accessed or even amended whenever necessary.

Virtual training also promotes better engagement and productivity, bringing variety and real interactivity to the learning journey. As our online courses are in manageable segments, staff retain bite-sized pieces of information far better than in one long block of traditional in-person training.

Continuing education & qualifications

As with many industries that require their employees to possess up to date qualifications, travel to attend continuing education courses and seminars was at one time commonplace.

Moving such courses online provides a win-win for the employer and the employee - saving money through the absence of travel and recording or streaming the content just once, and then presenting the course in a virtual environment.

Leverage virtual events for your business in 2024

Indeed, virtual events aren't a new concept, but with social distancing and home-working measures set to stay at least until the springtime - more businesses will likely be turning to virtual methods to achieve their goals for 2024.

There are undoubtedly some events and industries that lend themselves to the virtual environment, but with the introduction of modern technologies and a healthy dose of creative thinking - almost all in-person events can be brought into the virtual age.

With a long list of benefits to taking your event virtual, like cost-savings and increased attendance, better engagement and added revenue streams - our question to you isn't how you'll leverage virtual and hybrid events this year, it's when.

Get in touch with the MDA team to discuss how we can make your dreams of hosting a virtual or hybrid event in 2024 a reality!