Image: Zoom

In a nod to a post-pandemic world that is expected to be a hybrid of physical and virtual gatherings, Zoom has unveiled its Events platform to help users produce interactive and engaging virtual experiences. The company cited a recent study it did that found that over half of U.S. consumers plan to attend events in-person and virtually.

In the U.S., the study found that 80% of respondents agreed everything will continue to have a virtual element post-pandemic, with 52% saying they planned to enjoy events both in-person and virtually. Zoom said this reinforces the need for an all-in-one platform to create seamless hybrid/virtual events.

While very few respondents said they think activities will be virtual-only forever, the majority felt that their lives will include a balance of in-person and virtual components for most activities in the future, according to the study.

SEE: How to take advantage of Zoom’s chat tool (TechRepublic)

The platform, which will be available this summer, combines Zoom meetings, chat and video webinars in one place for event organizers to produce ticketed, live events for internal or external audiences of any size, according to the company.

Zoom Events is designed to help businesses create engaging experiences, the company said, whether that is organizing an internal all-hands for a large enterprise or yoga classes for a local studio.

“We know that people are looking for flexibility in how they attend events in the future,” said Oded Gal, chief product officer at Zoom, in a statement. “The hybrid model is here to stay,” and Zoom Events can help people looking to produce and host customer, company and public events.

The events platform features let businesses:

● Build an event hub to easily manage and share events
● Customizable ticketing and registration
● Control access and billing from one portal
● Host a variety of events–free or paid, one-time or series
● Bring attendees together with integrated networking
● Track event statistics like attendance, registration, revenue, and more
● Keep events private or posted to Zoom’s public directory for others to discover
● Use Zoom Events with an existing paid Zoom Meetings or video webinar license

Events is the rebranding of Zoom’s OnZoom feature, said Wei Li, head of Zoom Events.

OnZoom was designed to be an all-in-one system to enable small businesses to move their physical business message to Zoom when the pandemic began, she said.

The impetus for the name change was a recognition that OnZoom had wide use among companies of all sizes, she said. “Events makes it clear … We guessed people are already using Zoom meetings or webinars” for those specific purposes.

Pricing details are still being worked on, Li said.

The difference between a meeting and an event is the ability to generate tickets and register for the latter, she said.

A Zoom meeting generally requires just one link for access. “With Events, you can do registration and then actually socialize with other event attendees,” Li said. The single event hub provides all the information someone needs both before or after the event has occurred. The event host/organizer can see all the analytics about the event, Li said.

Events will also enable flexibility for future events and conferences by giving organizers the ability to expand to a global reach “without having to force the physical travel,” Li said.

In response to user feedback, Zoom is looking into how to virtualize the cocktail experience if someone is not physically at a conference. The goal is to make virtual events more useful, she said.

“In some scenarios, if you can put up the video online and half the conference attendees view it online there may be better analytics collected than at in-person events,” Li said.