The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a massive wrench into the gears of the machine we call the event industry. With hosting physical events being rendered impossible for the near future, virtual events are becoming the new normal.
While virtual meetings have been used by corporations all over the world for various benefits such as saving traveling costs and boosting productivity, most organizers and companies are not used to the idea of a virtual event completely yet.
In this in-depth blog, we’re going to take a look at various aspects of a virtual event such as what strategies you should use, how you should plan these events and some tips and tricks on how to execute them perfectly!
What is a Virtual Event?
The definition of a virtual event is an event that takes place online. It is important to differentiate between a virtual meeting and a virtual event. A virtual event is just like a real event with multiple speakers, virtual booths that simulate real booths at physical events while a virtual meeting is just a meeting that is hosted over the internet.
Dedicated virtual events solutions come up with many features that virtual meeting software like Skype or Zoom lack. Instead of just connecting people over the internet, they create a virtual space where an entire event takes place. A digital space where attendees can experience a full event online with speakers, sponsors, contests, and more!
Why should you consider Virtual Events?
The idea of a virtual event has been around for a while and for good reasons. It has become common practice for most physical events to contain a virtual element over the last few years as event organizers and brands understand the power of the internet and social media completely.
However, before the coronavirus pandemic, virtual events were usually thought of as a cost-effective alternative for physical events. In the current climate, it has become a necessity to switch to a virtual event.
Here are some reasons why you should consider hosting a virtual event, other than just necessity:
- With a virtual event, you have the ability to attract a much wider audience for your event. Since there are no travel costs involved, a virtual event is open to anyone in any part of the world! Problem factors associated with physical events such as travel costs, conflicting schedules, and more are mitigated completely with a virtual event.
- There is a much higher potential for targeting the right people with a virtual event for sponsors and exhibitors. One of the key advantages of a virtual event over a physical event is the fact that you have access to much better data about your attendees. It is possible to create a highly personalized experience for each attendee. It means sponsors and exhibitors also get better targeting with features offered by virtual event solutions.
- Lastly, it is possible to offer a lot of value beyond just event date when it comes to virtual events. You may archive all the content at virtual event and can view anytime. Creating a community is also easier with a virtual event as all attendees can be connected with the social media communities of the virtual event even when it is over!
Pivoting to the Virtual Event Space
A lot of organizers and brands have been forced to pivot to hosting an event on a virtual event platform to make up for the loss of audience and revenue from the cancellations of their physical events.
However, pivoting to a virtual event has many challenges that you have to overcome to host a seamless virtual event. Here are some points to ensure a seamless transition using a virtual events platform like Dreamcast:
- Create a team specifically for the virtual event and include members from the event production and marketing team. The objective of this team should be to focus on all the different aspects of the virtual event and for coming up with guidelines and SOPs for future virtual events that you’ll host. It is also a good idea to include the input of stakeholders like the exhibitors and sponsors and create a meaningful dialogue to ensure the event would be great for everyone.
- The next step of pivoting to a virtual event is to create content that is suitable for the virtual space. It is a good idea to keep communication open with the sponsors, exhibitors, and also the virtual event platform team to create the best content for your virtual event.
- It is also important to create a promotion and marketing plan for your virtual event. The plan should also involve strategies for communicating with your audience especially over online channels such as social media.
- The pivoting process also includes preparing for displaying sponsors of the event in the virtual space. Some examples include adding virtual booths at your event and product showcases etc.
- Lastly, once you’ve finalized how your virtual event would look, it is time to test-run the virtual event platform to ensure your virtual environment is perfect for the event you’re going to host!
Planning Virtual Events
Once you finish the process of pivoting to host your virtual event, it’s time to start the planning process.
The planning process starts with creating an agenda for the virtual event. It is a good idea to brainstorm and decide on the main focus area of the virtual event. During this part of the planning process, it is important to finalize the keynote speakers and a draft schedule for the virtual event.
Another part of the planning process involves finding the best format for your live event. With the right virtual events platform, the options for hosting a virtual event are endless. This is why it is important to hone in on the exact format for the virtual event.
At the center of the discussion on the format of virtual events is the question of deciding between a pre-recorded virtual event or a live streaming virtual event. It is also possible to create a hybrid virtual event with both live-streamed sessions and pre-recorded sessions. For example, it is common for a virtual event to have live sessions when it comes to keynote speakers and other pre-recorded sessions.
Of course, it is also possible to store the live-streamed sessions and make them available on-demand. However, a live virtual event is more engaging for the audience and a bit easier to market as well.
Lastly, you also need to decide where the speakers will record or stream from. Depending on event’s scale, the speakers can record from special studios with dedicated hardware to straight from their home!
Finding the right Virtual Events Platform for your event
As mentioned in this article, a virtual event is much more than just virtual meetings. In order to host a great virtual event, you’ll have to use a virtual events platform filled with engaging features. A platform that let you create highly immersive virtual experiences for the attendees of your event.
There are some key points that virtual event solutions should provide to create a great virtual event that includes:
- The platform should be able to accommodate multiple channels of engagement. The virtual events platform should provide features like polls, Q&A, and other audience engagement tools. These tools & features help in increasing the engagement of your virtual event.
- The virtual event platform should also provide features to increase awareness for sponsors and exhibitors. For example, the platform should allow you to use different forms of content from your sponsors like images, logos, promotional videos in a seamless way in your virtual event.
- Lastly, the platform should also provide basic promotional tools that help in marketing your virtual events such as social media integration, digital marketing tools, and more!
If you’re looking for a virtual events platform for your next event, Dreamcast is an ideal option for you!
Possibilities with a Virtual Event
When it comes to virtual events, the possibilities are endless! With the right platform, you can host any kind of virtual event including:
- Virtual conferences and conventions.
- Networking events and happy hours.
- Collaborative virtual hybrid summits.
- Virtual product launches.
- Office bonding events.
- Virtual AGMs (Annual General Meetings or Shareholder Meetings).
- Hybrid concerts and movie premieres.
- Virtual workshops and meet-ups.
- Hybrid/Virtual career fairs, and much more!
Essentially, a virtual event can be a virtual form of any physical event and the current pandemic is the perfect time to get creative when it comes to hosting a virtual event!
Virtual Events are the Future!
Even though virtual events have been on the rise due to the necessity created by the current global situation, they have been around for a long time! A virtual event is not only convenient but also cost-effective. As they become more and more adopted by the masses, it is easy to say the future of events is VIRTUAL!