December 30, 2020

29 Predictions for Virtual Event Trends in 2021

By Sara DeForest

One of the biggest business trends of 2020 was virtual events. The goal of these digital experiences is the same as in-person events — to connect with your audience, whether they’re prospects, customers, or employees. 

While we were just learning how to host a virtual event at the beginning of the pandemic, today many companies have successfully figured out how to bring that “in-person feel” to virtual events

The longer people were stuck at home, the more they craved unique experiences. As a result, we saw both B2B and B2C companies incorporate fun, interactive, and family-friendly activities such as cocktail demonstrations, magic shows, and even ugly sweater-making kits. 

Are virtual events here to stay? Or will in-person events take over once indoor gatherings are safe again? 

We asked our community of marketers, salespeople, and executives to share their top predictions for trends in virtual events and creative experiences in 2021. Here’s what they had to say: 

29 Predictions for Virtual Event Trends in 2021

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #1

“Zoom will invest more in their app store. There will be more interactive options (think B2B Twitch).”

– Brian Murray, Managing Director, Craft Ventures

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #2

“Virtual events will be prevalent until 2H 2021, when hybrid or full in-person events will take (back) over.”

– Pat Oldenburg, VP of Demand Marketing & Operations, ServiceMax

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #3

“New virtual platforms/experiences and creative offers that help emulate an in-person experience will be top of the list in the marketing ‘bag of tricks’ while the world continues to deal with COVID-19.”

– Heather Sullivan, Sr. Director of Global Demand Generation, Topia

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #4

“Virtual events explode but paradoxically become even less effective as ‘virtual event fatigue’ kicks in and the low net and ROI and experiential value of virtual events becomes evident. This will force a re-think of what virtual events need to deliver on, and will likely evolve into a new breed of hybrid events or truly innovative new ways to engage people who are broadly distributed.”

– Paul Sebastien, CMO, Offensive Security Inc.

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #5

“[Virtual events] will move away from regional sales events and become more industry-specific — for example, ‘How to Use Sendoso in the Healthcare Industry.’”

– Jessica Fernandez, Demand Generation Manager, Rapid7

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #6

“Here to stay, less of them to lower the noise. Most will be spread over time. See [Dreamforce] 2020.”

– John Boucher, Advisor, Stage 2 Capital

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #7

“Virtual for the win. Fewer people want/care to get on planes.”

– Sid Mistry, Vice President of Marketing, Appen

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #8

“Live events will slowly come back, but virtual event platforms like Hopin and Run The World are here to stay and will use the ‘virtual-first’ aspects of their offering to disrupt the previous event management software regime.”

– Ray Carroll, VP of Sales, Skilljar

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #9

“Finding ways to optimize the on-demand experience is going to be key as more and more people expect flexibility in ‘online hours.’”

– Kate Athmer, Sr. Director of Growth Marketing and Sales Development, Bombora

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #10

“I think creative experiences will be more important than virtual events. The more engaging the content, the more impactful it will be.”

– Adam Carr, VP of Global Sales, Miro

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #11

“More customized events that include a direct mail piece for engagement.”

– Sara Schonfeld, ABM Team Lead, Cornerstone OnDemand

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #12

“We’ll see creative blending of virtual and physical events to help connect people across geographies with exciting shared experiences.”

– Carol Meyers, Venture Partner, Glasswing Ventures

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #13

“I think we’re going to continue to see more creative and highly produced events. Webinar meetups and coffee talks aren’t really going to cut it anymore unless the topic is INCREDIBLY compelling.”

– Adelle Rodriguez, Sr. Marketing Manager of Customer Marketing, TrustRadius

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #14

“Virtual conferences will start mimicking in-person events. We’re finding ways to replace the personal interactions with virtual experiences, coffees, and happy hours. Scaling these 1:1 interactions virtually will impact your bottom line.”

– Katelyn Martin, Director of Marketing Operations, Jellyvision

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #15

“As marketers, we are going to have to get a lot more creative with virtual events and need to go beyond ‘death by PowerPoint.’ I’m thinking we’ll need to embrace bite-sized ‘snackable’ content, ways to facilitate online networking and unique experiences for our audience — such as hiring an entertainer, online games, etc. In parallel, it will become harder and harder to stand out as virtual events become ‘business as usual.’”

– Michelle Burrows, CMO, Procare Software

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #16

“Virtual events may go the same way as the webinar. There will be those who are able to execute them well and there will be organizations that rely on them because it is what everyone else is doing… The companies in 2021 that will truly be successful will be the ones who reinvent the wheel. Businesses will need to take risks to connect with their audience in a more meaningful way — think: what’s in it for THEM, not what’s in it for me… The businesses who can do this better will be the businesses that come out on top.”

– Nicholas Price, Global Senior Manager of Content, Aircall

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #17

“It is my hope that we will finally find a way to distinguish between a webinar and a true virtual event. More creative delivery methods will be discovered, shared, and repeated, along with ways to create interactive environments for the knowledge sharing and networking aspects of in-person that we love and miss.”

– Laura Hall, VP of Marketing, Revegy

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #18

“Virtual events are the new norm, and I predict we’ll see more companies get creative on building engaging communities.”

– Lynn Powers, Sales Director, Clari

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #19

“In-person events will return slowly after Sept. 2021 (if a vaccine is released to the public by April 2021). Folks will start with in-country events first and as numbers start decreasing, folks will start traveling international for business.”

– Alex Murcia, Sr. Field Marketing Manager, ForgeRock

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #20

“This is a high-growth space, we have had a lot of success using virtual events for our user conferences in EU and NA as well as a global Champions of Change event — all having record attendance. Virtual events are here to stay and will compete with in-person events when they return. Creativity around the user experience for event planners will be the differentiator.”

– Adam Tesan, CRO, Chargebee

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #21

“Up your game! Virtual events will get more engaging and more creative in 2021. The competition will be tough. Be prepared to dazzle, amaze and engage your audience or your attendance will be low.”

– Alice Heiman, Founder & Chief Sales Officer, Alice Heiman, LLC

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #22

“Because larger shows like RSA will be completely virtual, I see the opportunity to create an augmented virtual experience in larger show booths, including pre-show incentives, virtual swag store, and interactive games/displays.”

– Megan Flanagan, Sr. Director of Field and Channel Marketing, Arctic Wolf

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #23

“Live music streaming will play an increasingly active role in virtual events.”

– Dan Dal Degan, Operating Executive, Marlin Equity Partners

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #24

“I think [virtual events] are going to become the norm even when things go back to normal post-Covid.”

– Mollie Leon, Marketing Manager, Zego

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #25

“Virtual events and creative experiences will continue to be online, and we will see an explosion of technologies aimed at supporting this. Marketers and sellers alike will demand that these tools have pristine analytics on how their buyers are engaging with virtual events. Marketers, in particular, will be upping the ante on interactive creative experiences — think chocolate and chef tastings, MasterClass-like series, gamified events and more!” 

– Stephanie Sawah, Account Based Marketing Specialist, Achievers

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #26

“Similar to Zoom fatigue, people will tire of virtual events in 2021. People will come to the realization that they never watch the webinars they planned to watch on ‘Netflix and Chill’ mode and stop registering. For those who do register, attendance will fall off a cliff because we are too busy and something always comes up that is more important than a vendor event. Finally, those who do attend virtual events, will have low dwell times — because who has the attention span to sit in front of a computer for an 8 hour virtual event?”

– Brad Zomick, VP Marketing, Forage

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #27

“Better networking and engagement. Companies [will be] racing to provide something more unique and that provides more interaction between humans to build true connections.”

– Alana Ballon, Global GTM & Strategy Leader for Duo Sales, Duo Security

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #28

“More creativity — the event has to be more than a virtual wine tasting or a webinar. Teams have to get creative and offer one-of-a-kind experiences.”

– Stephanie Robotham, CMO, Gainsight

Virtual Event Trend Prediction #29

“Virtual events will continue to be a big form of demand creation. With travel limited and still feeling the pandemic impact, those that are most creative will continue to drive pipeline growth.”

– Brian Serino, SVP Managing Director, Epsilon

Thanks for checking out these predictions for virtual event trends in 2021! Want to learn how you can start sending to shape the virtual event trends of 2021? Schedule time with one of our sending experts here or check out some of our customer success stories below. 

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