What is a virtual event?

small virtual event
small virtual event

When a virtual event is well put together, it can make a huge difference for everyone involved. Whether the goal of your event is to promote team building within your own organisation or to dazzle potential customers and suppliers, utilising expert event organisers will no doubt result in the best experience possible. This is a guide about everything to do with virtual events, including hybrid events and those that are solely online, for a variety of purposes.

Defining a virtual event

A virtual event is any event that takes place online. This could be a livestream of a trade show or conference, a team meeting, or an accessible video for employee training purposes that can be accessed at any time. There are many different types of virtual events, including hybrid events that combine both online and physical attendance. Virtual events comprise of any online events and virtual content.

How do virtual events actually work?

Virtual events utilise technology that has been designed to replicate the feel of a physical event in an online, digital format. Virtual events offer a new level of flexibility, engagement and scalability. As effective as virtual events are there are many hurdles and potential hiccups that can present themselves along the way. Luckily, we have hosted many virtual events so we have all the remedies and best practices in place to ensure a seamless execution. 

Our job is to make sure your virtual event runs as smoothly as possible whilst maximising both attendance and engagement. Virtual conferences provide a unique opportunity to bring both in-house and remote workers together. Virtual events are fantastic for hybrid businesses with international employees. That being said a virtual event can be beneficial to any organisation due to its flexibility and independence of location. 

What are the benefits of virtual events?

There are a wide range of benefits to hosting a virtual event including;

Increase your reach

A wholly virtual event offers no borders and restraints. You have the ability to invite attendees from the whole world over, boosting the potential maximum audience significantly (as long as you have the technological capabilities to do so – Don’t worry we can help you here.

A cost-effective approach

Hosting a virtual event can help reduce the costs commonly associated with hosting a physical event. With a virtual event, you do not need to worry about hiring a large venue to safely fit every attendee. It also allows you to transition budgets towards a higher calibre of guests or production. This gives you greater control over your event.

Save time

There is less lead time and production time to account for when putting together an online event as opposed to a real-life or a hybrid event. The time saved by organisers can be transitioned to other elements of your event such as ticket sales or company presentation slides.

Track and analyse data effectively

Virtual events offer a great way to collect and track attendee data in a more effective way than in-person events. You can also achieve a greater level of engagement with your attendees. Touchpoints with your guests start from the advertising and registration phase all the way through the event itself. We also recommend taking this one step further by utilising post-event surveys. The data here can be invaluable depending on the goals of the survey.

What are the different types of virtual events?

There are a few different types of virtual events you can organise depending on your commercial goals. The most popular goals for our Manchester clients are often around team building, product launches and company end of year wrap up. 

Here are some different reasons and types of virtual events you might want to consider;

Networking

Virtual networking events are one of the biggest reasons people put on events. It allows different attendees to connect with each other either one on one or in small groups, allowing for fruitful conversation and genuine connections to be made. Networking adds genuine engagement and value to any virtual event and gives the potential for follow-up surveys and future event attendance.

Employee training

 Online training has become one of the best ways to engage effectively with a workforce. Instead of taking your entire set of staff to a physical location for training, and the costs and lost time that entails, provide virtual, online training that includes a wide variety of methods. Offer online quizzes, live Q&As with experts, and video content that can be accessed at any time during or after a live training session.

A virtual conference

Conferences are usually designed to be large in scale, with a sizable crowd of attendees from across a specific industry. This could include one single main stage with various speakers, or several smaller stages and virtual breakout areas with other presentations and more informal conversations taking place away from the ‘keynote speakers’.

Trade shows

If you have a range of products that you wish to launch, a virtual trade show is a great idea. It allows attendees to visit virtual booths and to have conversations about demand and supply in the same way that you would at a physical trade show. With QR codes and digital badges, it is easier for attendees to visit a greater number of potential products and to make a genuine connection and interest immediately, improving tracking capabilities.

Webinars

A common type of virtual event is webinars. Webinars are usually a chance for one person or a small group of people to give a presentation to a wider audience about a specific topic that they are experts in. Webinars are a fantastic way to promote brand awareness and to build engagement with real-time Q&As. Webinars are fantastic for product demonstrations and give us the opportunity for immediate feedback.

Career fairs

Connect with your target audience wherever they happen to be, expanding your reach to people in various locations without the need to worry about cost and travel restrictions. If you are promoting job roles that are remote, why not promote them at a virtual job fair where you are not restricted to your local area alone to recruit new employees? This is a great way to show that you are a forward-thinking, tech-savvy organisation. 

What is a hybrid virtual event?

A hybrid event could be anything from workshops to conferences, trade shows, or even meetings within a business that combine both in-person attendance in a physical location and a virtual audience that can tune in via a virtual conferencing platform. Hybrid events gained popularity during the pandemic and offered businesses the chance to keep communication open despite people being forced to working remotely from home.

The benefits of a hybrid event include;

Increased audience reach

By combining both in-person and virtual attendees to your event, you are promoting a much wider potential reach.  It doesn’t mean that people who are not in your location will miss out on the event.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Face-to-face meetings are still important in some circumstances, but where you can reduce the need for travel for certain people, it helps the green aspect of your business, by reducing the carbon footprint of each event.

Lower your costs

Travel and accommodation costs for events all adds up. If you can reduce these costs for the attendees by allowing virtual attendance, it is more likely to be a positive experience for all.

Better metrics and analysis

Hybrid events provide a chance to improve your data insights, identifying different characteristics of attendees.

How should you host a virtual event?

There are a few things you must consider when planning a virtual event. Yes, they are awesome and extremely effective but organising a virtual event is no peace of cake. Here are some of our best tips to consider when planning your event.

Think about your tech and strategy

There are different virtual event platforms and technology that you can take advantage of, and each will have a different purpose and match well with specific strategies. Think about why you want to host a virtual event and what type of attendees there will be, and from there you can decide whether you need a complete customisable  virtual event platform that is created and managed on your behalf by experts, whether you use Zoom, Facebook Live, or other simple technology that matches your strategy for the event.

Have the correct Audio Visual (AV)

Investing in strong audio visual technology and equipment is vital to a successful event of any kind. Working with a virtual event planner will help with in regard, providing the best lighting, microphones, cameras, screens, and green screen capabilities, amongst other things.

Prepare

It is important that you are thorough in the planning and rehearsal of the live event. There can always be technical hiccups during a live event, so it is important to practice the setup beforehand and to iron out any challenges and potential problems. This way, if anything does go wrong on the day, you are fully prepared to deal with it as best you can. Practice speaking, recording speeches, and ensuring that all aspects on the attendee side works well and are simple to understand.

Understand your metrics

Before the event, you should have a clear idea of the metrics you are looking at, such as registration numbers versus attendance. Understanding what you are looking for helps to work out the how, and from there, sustainable tracking and reporting can be implemented to collect and analyse the data that will help you as a company moving forward, whether you are looking at improving the attendee experience at the next virtual event or want to improve your sales potentials from this crop of attendees.

Follow up effectively

All the accurate information and data in the world is no use if you don’t use it correctly. It is important to have a plan in place to follow up with attendees after the event. You can create content that can be accessed at a later date, collect surveys and other information from attendees, and post highlights to those who couldn’t attend.

What challenges do virtual events pose?

There are a few challenges to hosting a virtual event, but all can be overcome with assistance from experts in the field and extensive planning:

·  Zoom fatigue – the mental and physical tiredness relating to those sitting in front of a computer screen all day. Are they likely to want to attend a virtual event?

·  Ensuring the correct technology – it can be overwhelming to find the right type of technology and equipment.

·  Costs – although more cost-effective than a physical event, there are still lighting and audio costs to consider, as well as remote studio costs.

·  Low turnout – there is a challenge in making sure turnout is high enough with an online event to make it worthwhile.

How do you measure the success of your virtual event?

Tracking attendee data and measuring the success of your virtual event is vital. Collecting the information and having access to sustainable reporting that provides an accurate analysis of where you can do better will help you to achieve your goals. There are different ways that you can collect data, including:

·  Through the event website

·  The event registration process – number of registrations

·  Question and answer sessions

·  Live polling

·  Interactive video conference

·  Feedback surveys

·  Demographic of attendees

·  Number of leads created

·  Ratings of event sessions

·  Social media engagement and reach

Putting together virtual events as a business can be daunting if it is something you have never done before. There are many potential pitbulls and bringing all of these components together can be a challenge.

Our virtual event services are designed to help you plan, create, manage, track, and deliver live online events designed around your goals. Over the years we have been fortunate enough to plan and execute some of the most successful events on behalf of our clients. If you are thinking about hosting a virtual event and need a helping hand please do reach out to our team.

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