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With the U.S. setting a new hospitalization record amid a surge in cases of the Omicron variant, remote/hybrid work and company events are likely to remain popular well into 2022. Indeed, according to a recent survey conducted by event marketing technology company Splash, the vast majority of companies still expect to host hybrid events this year.
“Vast majorities expect to host hybrid events [in 2022] (79%), and more than previous years (86%),” Splash’s “Outlook on Events 2022” report reads. “The worrisome news is, most companies seem content to proceed with their existing event tech stacks, which may not be sufficient to meet evolving attendee expectations.”
Splash works with Fortune 500 companies, including LinkedIn and Salesforce (CRM), helping design, execute and scale their in-person, virtual, and hybrid event programs. Splash surveyed 253 event professionals and 3,133 event attendees in the U.S. across a variety of industries in November 2021. In order to qualify, respondents had to work in departments such as marketing or HR.
COVID-19 continues to place a drag on workers’ return to in-person work, with tech industry giants like Facebook parent company Meta (FB) delaying plans to bring its employees back to the office to March 28. Meta employees can also request to work remotely permanently or can apply for an extension to continue working from home for an additional three to five months.
Other key metrics that Splash found in its survey included trends pertaining to companies’ virtual event technology investments and how they are leveraging virtual events to grow their businesses — 59% of survey respondents plan to increase their investment in event technology compared to 2021 and 43% measure the success of their events by their impact on revenue. Additionally, 74% of large companies held virtual employee trainings last year, along with 58% and 55% of small and mid-sized companies, respectively.
“Companies continue to rely on virtual events to stay connected with customers,” the report reads. “But in 2021, more companies cited revenue growth and sales as the key success metric for virtual events, indicating a shift in emphasis toward measuring real business outcomes.”
Challenges and keys to virtual success
Across all company sizes, businesses found driving attendance to their virtual events to be their biggest challenge in 2021, with 48% of companies surveyed responding as such. Another obstacle which followed closely behind was combatting virtual event fatigue, with 47% of companies citing it as their biggest challenge for the year.
On top of this, companies also reported struggling with producing high quality event content, measuring event ROI effectively, and navigating budget and staffing constraints.
“The good news is, many of those challenges are addressable with the right approach and the right event technology,” the report reads. “Smaller, more targeted events can drive higher attendance rates. More engaging and purpose-built virtual event technology can help eliminate ‘Zoom fatigue.’”
Companies also had slightly differing opinions on the most important factors for event success. They cited attracting the right attendees (26%), attracting the most attendees (16%), and creating compelling event content (15%) as being their virtual event priorities in 2022.
Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thomashumTV