Event sector goes virtual as travel budgets fall

Event organisers are increasingly turning to video conferencing solutions and other remote collaboration and communication systems to make the most of their budgets and to counter falling travel budgets around the world.

According to a report by MeetPie, an online news service for the meetings and events sector, the IET Venues ‘Business Travel Trends’ Survey has shown that the industry is increasingly accepting of the role technology can play. With just 38% of the 107 organisers surveyed believing that their budgets will rise in the near future, there is a widespread (78%) consensus that cost has become the key factor for organising events – and attending them.

One key factor in the event’s industry’s concerns is the reduced travel budgets at firms around the world. 55% of respondents said that they felt travel budgets had fallen in the past two years, posing a barrier to physical events.

To combat the expected and already experienced fall in physical attendance due to these cuts, the sector is showing more support than ever for virtual events or extending the reach of physical events with video conferencing or telepresence services. Two thirds of organisers reported an increase in virtual events over the past two years with one fifth (19%) stating they had seen the use of virtual events double in the same period.

This increase is likely accountable for the increased acceptance of virtual attendance and extension via video conference services and online resources; just over half of all respondents said they expect to use these methods themselves in the near future.

“Virtual events are an excellent option,” said Anna Clover, IET Venues and Facilities manager in MeetPie.