During the pandemic, one of the most affected industries was the event planning industry. All of the event industry sectors such as private, government, cultural, festivals, music, tourism, and corporate sectors had to come up with an effective solution such as virtual events.
That’s where the event industry had to adopt a virtual approach now known as virtual event planning. Of course, nothing can compare to face-to-face, in-person interaction, but it’s safe to say that a virtual one comes close. Now, there is no stopping virtual events – they are here to stay and they will only grow bigger and bigger.
If you’re interested in finding out more about virtual events, we’re here to help you out.
What is a virtual event?
Instead of in a real physical location and environment, virtual events, as their name suggests, happen in an online, virtual environment and they involve the audience.
Virtual events allow you to host conferences, meetings, product launches, trade shows, recruitments shows and so much more and all that from the comfort of your home. Basically, almost any event can be hosted virtually.
To host these virtual events you need good video conferencing technology and event management software.
Main types of virtual events
There are many types of virtual events but only four of them are currently most popular. Those four include webinars, virtual conferences, internal and external hybrid events.
Webinars, you’ve probably already heard of, but how do they really work? They are created so that they allow you to share presentations, videos, websites, and other similar things with your audience.
Webinars usually last somewhere from 45 to 80 minutes and they use audio and video components and other video conferencing tools that allow the interaction between you and your audience. These tools include Q&A possibilities, they give you the chance to pre-record your videos or to live-stream them, and also your audience can watch them on demand once the webinar is over.
Virtual conferences are different from webinars and very similar to actual physical conferences. They are designed around live agendas and include breakouts, keynotes, sessions, live polls, and so on.
These conferences can use personal virtual event platforms where attendees can create their agendas, interact with others, watch content on-demand and so much more.
There is a difference between internal and external hybrid events. Internal hybrid events are used to share messages with all employees whether they are gathered at the same place or not, also both virtually and in an office. These events are great for announcements, town hall meetings, sales and department meetings, companywide events, and so on.
External hybrid events connect you with the whole world, meaning attendees outside your company and organization. Those events usually include conferences, parties, summits, seminars, workshops, trade shows, and so on. For these events to be the same quality as in-person events you’ll need higher levels of video production.
Benefits of virtual events
Virtual events are hosted for the same reason you host in-person events – to deliver your company’s message to drive leads, to build loyalty, increase revenue, and countless more reasons.
Of course, virtual and in-person events are never the same, but there are benefits to virtual events as well.
One of the benefits of virtual events is flexibility. With virtual events, you can connect with your attendees through audio and video chats. These events allow you to showcase your products, which is something that buyers love – interactive and visual content allows for better reach and greater awareness.
When it comes to accessibility, virtual events are ideal. Anyone can attend your event and there is no limit or maximum capacity when it comes to online events. Of course, you have the power of limiting the number of attendees.
Not to mention that virtual events are cost-effective. You don’t need to search for venues, staff, or catering services when hosting an online event.
Virtual event planning tips
Just like with every event, you need a good plan. You may not need to look for venues, hire staff, and catering services, but you still need to set a good date and right time for a virtual event.
The most ideal time to host an event is during the early evenings on weekends. But that’s not all, you’ll need to be careful not to schedule an event during holidays, important sports games, or something along those lines. The best solution would be to ask your audience for their opinion. Let them suggest a time and date when they are available.
Then you need to understand your audience. You need to have an idea of who your audience is in order to build a strong demographic profile. You need to know how tech-savvy they are, whether they are familiar and active on social media. Then you need information about how interested in certain subject areas of your industry they are, how they respond to certain offers such as discounts, sweepstakes, and other similar information.
To find all this out, you’ll need to make a survey or start a discussion forum to get all the information you need from your audience.
Next, you’ll need to define your format. This implies deciding whether you want to host a seminar or a trade show, or anything else that you desire. The main goal here is to create something unique and different from your competitors. Something that will hold your audience’s attention.
After this, you’ll need to choose a platform. You have so many options here, from Facebook Livestream to YouTube Live and Zoom. Of course, there are many more great virtual event platforms you’ve probably never heard of but you should give them a try.
The last two things you need to do include are choosing a host or MC and finally marketing your event. These two last steps are very important. Your host or MC would need to speak clearly and to be comfortable in front of the camera.
Marketing will either make or break your event. You can use your usual social media methods, posting on Facebook, tweeting or you can up your game and incorporate other methods such as sending newsletters, going on other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TickTock, advertise on blogs, and vlogs, and so on.
How to host a successful virtual event
To host a successful virtual event you’ll need to do a lot of planning we mentioned above. However, in addition to all that, you’ll need to be creative and innovative, too. The key is to keep your audience engaged and to provide feedback opportunities.
The audience is easily bored and distracted, that’s why you’ll need to work on your production quality, you’ll need to offer interesting content, capitalize on online networking tools, and keep your sessions shorter.
Virtual events are here to stay and if you want to be good at them you’ll need to understand how they work and what you can get from them. Hopefully, we managed to give you an idea of what a virtual event is and all you need to do and know before you start your first virtual event.