It’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside-down. For a whole 12 months, we’ve lived online—we worked, we studied, we shopped, and we connected with each other through virtual mediums. For the events industry, 2020 will be remembered for one thing—the year virtual events took off like never before. It was only a few weeks into the pandemic when event organizers pivoted to virtual events
Of course, it was anything but easy. Not only were most event organizers pretty new to them, but most virtual event platforms also had some way to go before they could support full-scale virtual experiences. But happily for all of us, it happened and way sooner than we believed possible. Event organizers perfected their virtual events strategy, and event technology caught up. Fast-forward to 2021, and it looks like virtual events are here for the long haul.
How Backstage OnAir happened
Coming to Zoho Backstage, this year has been a time of learning and experimentation. Like the rest of the event world, we adapted to virtual events in phases. In early March, we came up with a stopgap solution to allow event organizers to connect their video-conferencing tools with Backstage as an easy way to host online events. In the next phase—as another short-term measure—we integrated with video-conferencing platforms Zoho Meeting and Zoom Webinar.
While this worked well and gave our users the option to use the platform of their choice, we felt it was something that wouldn’t hold up in the long run. For one, such integrations can result in a disruptive attendee experience as these platforms were designed for a different purpose. Building our own software, on the other hand, gave us the freedom to design a purpose-built solution that provided attendees a cohesive event experience. With that, we come to the third phase—the release of Backstage OnAir. Here, we finally achieved what we set out to do in March 2020—provide event planners with a holistic virtual events solution.
Zoho Day 2021, hybrid events, and the road ahead
We realized how far we came when the virtual rendition of Zoho Day 2021—Zoho’s annual event for analysts—happened with Backstage OnAir on February 24 and 25, 2021. Not only did the event go off without a hitch, but we got scores of attendees telling us how beautiful OnAir’s user interface was and how much they enjoyed the Backstage experience. It was our moment of reckoning!
— Steve Goldberg (@SGoldbergVR) February 24, 2021
— Graham Fruin IDC (@gfruinidc) February 24, 2021
— Jorge García (@jgxdot) February 24, 2021
#ZohoDay2021–Zoho is using its own Backstage event platform, very impressed with it!
— lauriemccabe (@lauriemccabe) February 24, 2021
Considering the year we’ve had and also the fact that we’re prepping up for our next big release—hybrid events—it felt like a good time to talk just a little more about virtual events before finally making the shift to hybrid. We know this year must have been as strange for you as it was for us, and we’d like to hear about your experiences hosting, speaking at, and attending virtual events. And what better way to do that than with bingo? Here are three templates—one each for organizers, speakers, and attendees—and we hope you have fun doing them.
Haven’t played this sort of bingo before? It’s is pretty simple. Download (right-click + save as) or take a screenshot of a bingo card. Tick the boxes that are relevant for you. Post it on social media and tag your friends to join the fun. Also, when posting your cards, tag @ZohoBackstage on Twitter so we can find you.
Finally, if there’s anything more you want to tell us about your virtual event experience, tweet out to us @ZohoBackstage, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.