The COVID-19 coronavirus has challenged event planners to adopt strategies that don’t rely on in-person events. As we pivot to virtual events over the coming weeks, it is important to think about the long game and choose tools and tactics that make sense today — and into the future.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is an online-only event that delivers the value of an in-person event in a virtual environment. Attendees interact in a virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual events are multi-session online events that often feature webinars and webcasts, however, a webinar by itself is not a virtual event.
Not to mention — virtual event attendance is increasing faster than live event attendance. 📈
Why Should You Embrace Virtual?
It's time to crisis-proof your event strategy! There are a ton of reasons why embracing virtual is a smart move. Here's a few. 👇
- Widen Your Audience — Going virtual opens up your event to more people! You can connect with your audience across the globe for a fraction of the cost, and include attendees who would otherwise not be able to have that experience.
- Save on Costs 💰— Make your budget go farther by saving on travel, vendors, and venues. Virtual meetings can be held anywhere there is an Internet connection.
- Build a Community — Create a community surrounding your event, and keep people engaged before, during and after. Capture content that can be used all year long.
- Personalize the Attendee Experience — User data allows you to seamlessly engage and personalize the event experience. Use groups to ensure that attendees receive the content that is most applicable to them, including personalized notifications, discussion boards, and more.
- Still Provide Sponsorship ROI — That's right, you can absolutely have effective event sponsorship with a virtual event. We'll show you how.
- Sustainability — Save the environment, one virtual event at a time. Virtual events reduce food waste, and carbon emissions due to travel.
What are the Components of a Virtual Event?
It's important to think through the participant experience for your virtual event, the same way that you would for an in-person event — from start to finish. The main components to consider are:
- Content Distribution
- Attendee Engagement & Networking
This probably sounds familiar! It's not all that different from an in-person event. The principal difference that we see is the increased need to manage participants' attention while considering each of these.
What are some Recommended Tactics for Going Virtual?
- Hire an Emcee — Have a host or master of ceremonies, just like you would for an in-person event. This person can help keep the energy up, ensure smooth communication, and act as a point of contact.
- Embrace Virtual Sponsorship Offerings — Offer your sponsors sponsored sessions, banner ads, splash screens, virtual giveaways, notifications, game challenges, and more. We're here to help you brainstorm.
- Facilitate Sponsor Connections — Make it easy for attendees to indicate their interest in a sponsor, exhibitor, or speaker, and even schedule a meeting with them.
- Manage Participant Distractions — Create a central hub for all event content, removing the need for participants to "leave the event" at all. Embed live streams, recordings, session collateral, and more. We also recommend shorter, more targeted sessions than you would typically put on for a live event. Demos, hands-on labs, and case studies are all great options!
- Rehearse — Have your presenters do a dry-run the day before the event, using the same technology they will be using for the real deal. This helps minimize tech hiccups and get everyone on the same page.
- Keep Them Engaged — Engagement also helps manage their distractions. ☝️Support engagement with moderated discussion boards, live polling and Q&A, and the event game. Automated session reminders and announcements can also help increase attendance and engagement.
- Kick Off a Community — Virtual events can be a great way to jump-start a 365 day Community. If you want your participants to engage with your community all year long, be intentional with your choices to encourage that the experience continue. Sessions-based forums allow long-term conversation around your content, and on-demand playback gives your content longer life.
- Encourage Networking — Give your attendees multiple networking options, with Shake & Connect, chat features, the Wall, and networking game challenges. With a little planning, you can even schedule multi-person video conferences for informal “Birds of a Feather”-type meetups, allowing people to connect and talk about topics of interest. Use survey and polling features to crowdsource the topics.
This sounds great — can I see an example?
Sure thing! Tap the button below to download our example Branded Event app on your iPhone or Android, and join the ETT Virtual Conference:
After the ETT Events app is installed, enter your email address and create your profile. Under Upcoming Events, swipe left or search to find and select ETT Virtual Conference 2020, then tap Join.
Questions? Chat Us or Email [email protected]