We love virtual events! We think they open up a world of possibilities that have been previously under explored, so we are glad this year (we’ll call it a silver lining) has brought virtual events into the mainstream.
It occurs to us that not everyone understands the appeal of virtual events though, and we think that’s just because they haven’t discovered the full range of benefits that only a virtual event can deliver.
So, let’s talk about it:
- What is a virtual event?
- Why are virtual events important?
- Why have a virtual event?
- What types of virtual events can I have?
- Can virtual events really be engaging?
What Is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is not just a live stream of some content. You can call it a virtual, online, broadcast, or digital event, but the bottom line is that it is an event, and it involves thoughtful strategy, technical expertise, production elements, and behind-the-scenes coordination.
The level of difficulty depends on the event, but any virtual event—from a simple training session to an all-out gala fundraiser—will benefit from an experienced production team. They’ll help with everything, from the selection of an event platform (the “venue” for virtual events) to post-event wrap up, and they’ll handle the details so you’re not scraping by with a webcam and a Zoom link.
Why Are Virtual Events Important?
We don’t need to dwell on the year that was 2020, but at a time when live events were almost unilaterally cancelled, virtual events filled the gap.
This is not just important from an entertainment event standpoint. Yes, it’s a huge bummer to not be able to go to concerts, but also consider the thousands of non-profit organizations that lost a major revenue stream when they were forced to cancel fundraisers!
Or think about small businesses that depend on the exposure and leads they generate at trade shows to keep their lights on.
Not to mention the families that missed out on once-in-a-lifetime celebrations like graduations, weddings, baptisms, etc.
Virtual events fill those gaps, and not only are they a viable option, they can deliver a completely unique experience that your guests will never forget!
Plus, in the midst of the shift to remote work, virtual events fill an important role in the corporate space by creating community and fostering staff welfare at a distance. Many teams have begun to hold weekly Happy Hours or Lunch & Learn sessions to keep teams connected and engaged while they’re working from home.
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Event?
Sometime soon, COVID-19 will no longer have such an enormous impact on our day to day lives. But whenever that happens, we believe there will still be a demand for virtual and hybrid events, and here’s why:
Your Event is Not Limited by Geography
If you’re hosting an event that includes people from outside your local area, your guests have some decisions to make:
Do we spend the money on travel/hotels/etc. to be there?
Can we spare the time to travel there and back?
If your event is virtual, those decisions are eliminated, and all of a sudden, it’s accessible to a much larger audience. If you’re hosting a fundraiser, this is great news, right? You can literally invite anyone, anywhere, to join, which expands the reach of your event exponentially.
Your Event May Be Less Expensive
Truth: Hosting events is expensive. If you’re paying for a venue, catering, entertainment, staffing, etc, costs add up quickly. Even hosting an after-work Happy Hour can cost a lot.
A virtual event eliminates many of those expenses, freeing up funds that you can put towards a higher-level production and/or re-invest into your organization.
Your Event Will Deliver Valuable Insight
When you host a virtual event, you have the ability to track some key metrics that clue you in to the habits of your audience. Your event platform and event production company provide valuable analytics about your audience experience, which can inform your event strategy going forward.
What Types of Virtual Events Can I Have?
Really, there’s no limit:
- Alumni events
- Happy Hours
- Training sessions
- Family Gatherings
With the right expertise, you can produce just about any event and pull off something incredible.
Can Virtual Events Really Be Engaging?
Yes! We want to stress that virtual events are not a quick fix or a Band-Aid for an events industry that’s reeling from COVID-19.
We know people are tired of Zoom calls and online staff meetings and terrible video feeds and people saying, “Can you guys mute? Jan, I don’t think you’re on mute. Can you try again? Nope… I can still hear you.”
A virtual event—a good one—should incorporate all the elements of a live one, plus some things that are only available in the virtual space. It should be every bit as engaging as anything else, if not more so! Here’s how to make sure that happens:
Tools – Engaging your audience means investing in the right tools. Look for a production company that offers gamification, live entertainment, live chat, Q&A, live polling, video networking, and more. With the visual media options available today, the tools you need to make your event awesome should be readily accessible.
Storytelling – Every event has a story. Make sure it’s being told carefully by a team that’s thought of everything. Rather than picking and choosing disparate elements, weave a thoughtful storyline through your event, and make sure the pieces you’re adding—trivia, a DJ, videos—enhance your story.
Sponsorship – There are multiple ways to include and showcase sponsors throughout the event. In many ways, sponsor materials are more prominent than they would be at a live event, and your sponsors can have the added perk of getting email addresses for everyone that registers.
Video Content – Live and pre-recorded video content can both be used, adding a ton of options for getting your message across.
If you’re new to virtual events, we want to help. Whether you’re ready to start planning or want to know more, let’s talk! No matter what you have in mind, Tailored Virtual has the expertise, technology, and strategy to make it happen.