Last year, virtual events were valued at close to $78 billion, and are expected to grow at 23.2 percent annually from 2020 to 2027.
The pandemic, of course, has only accelerated that growth. As I’ve written before, we’re not going back to live events any time soon—even once the Covid-19 vaccine is widely distributed. What I and others in my industry are seeing is that the future of events will likely be a hybrid model, with event hosts bringing in speakers and attendees both physically and virtually.
And while enterprise solutions like Zoom and Teams have certainly come out as winners during this pandemic, brands’ almost wholesale adoption of these platforms has done something unexpected: emphasized the gap in the market for full-service virtual experience and platform management, something that both Zoom and Teams lack.
One pioneer in this hybrid events management model is the platform Vsummits. They’re embarking on a new model for virtual event services that’s designed to meet the needs of hybrid and virtual events as they evolve and change throughout the next several years.
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As more brands take their events and gatherings online, and more attendees expect the ability to fully participate online, as well as in person, a new need is emerging. Beyond just video conferencing platforms, brands need EMAAS, or events-management-as-a-service—a concept developed by Vsummits founder and tech entrepreneur Stan Liberatore, who’s also the president and CEO of No Limit Technology.
The entrepreneur first launched Vsummits to support a Tampa Bay healthcare tech conference, Disrupt the Bay, for which he provided the seed money. Disrupt the Bay offered attendees a chance to experience the future of live streaming, with VSummit’s table-based networking events. These have the ability to bring in hundreds of thousands of participants.
How EMAAS is evolving
Over the past ten months, Tampa, Florida has grown into a powerful technology hub, looking for ways to address the technological confines which the global pandemic has brought. Vsummits adds EMAAS to the equation, focusing on events that have at least a hundred attendees, and including, but not limited to, trainings, classroom events, and conferences.
The platform is designed to augment reality and provide an enhanced, nearly-physically-present user experience for those who can’t be on-site.
Right now, Liberatore is focusing on providing specialized EMAAS services to institutions of higher education. “With this kind of service, you have nuances and problems with users, especially when you are talking about a new tool,” Liberatore says. Many of these educational institutions, according to Liberatore, “lack the infrastructure to support virtual work and training.”
As of today, the Vsummits platform is capable of hosting events of more than ten thousand people. This puts them in line with Zoom and Teams. However, Liberatore says, “It’s harder to consider Teams or Zoom as a competitor because they are more direct-to-consumer…where we really fit in is organizations that are lean with their marketing departments, or nonprofits that are trying to stay lean and don’t have marketing resources.”
Vsummits 2.0 is expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2021, Liberatore says. The next version would be a hybrid model for events, with some participants in-person and some online.
“We are providing a turnkey solution for events regardless of industry: healthcare, higher education, not-for-profit—even weddings, sports, and symphonies,” says Liberatore. “The opportunities are truly endless.”
As more players enter the EMAAS field, and organizations demand more options for both hybrid and virtual events, this will be an area to watch—in 2021, and beyond.