Why Hosting a Virtual Event is a Good Idea (And How to Do It!)
By Chelsea Brandom
During the time of COVID, face-to-face interactions have become limited. When your business purpose relies on bringing people together to share experiences, limiting interactions can cause quite the hurdle. For the past seven years, Verdical Events has brought people together through our annual Net Zero Conference. 2020 was looking to be a promising year for the growing event; however, with the pandemic, our team was forced to think outside the box. How could we still bring hundreds of people together, increase engagement, and meet our event’s primary goals? A virtual event!
The value of face-to-face interactions will never go away. Now is the time to be creative, think unconventionally, and bring forth new ideas. From accessibility to budget, there are many reasons to host a virtual event rather than postponing until you can host an in-person event – not to mention that the timeline to do so is still so unknown.
Where to Start
One of the most important first steps in deciding whether to host a virtual event is to do your research. Finding the right platform for you and your business model is crucial. Whether it is finding a platform that best stimulates in-person interactions for exhibitors or can host webinars for educational sessions, there is likely a platform that can fit your event needs; the virtual event industry is one of the few areas booming during COVID-19, with many new businesses popping up in the space and existing providers expanding their services. When deciding to take our events virtual, our team did our due diligence, comparing pros and cons of various platforms until we found one that was the right fit for us and our primary goals.
Challenges and Benefits
Event planning always has its challenges, but adding a strict virtual aspect is a new way of thinking that most event planners do not have extensive experience with. The most important aspects of our event were to mimic in-person interaction as closely as possible, stay on budget, allow for great marketing to get our attendees excited, and retain attendees’ attention throughout the course of the event. If you’re thinking of hosting a virtual event, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- How do I get that “in-person” feel?
Some platforms have the option to bring face-to-face meeting capabilities to your audience. For us, creating a virtual expo hall that incorporated a space for exhibitors to speak to the visitors was a must. In addition, we also wanted to create a space where our attendees could have one-on-one or group meetings with other attendees to really help provide them with that in-person aspect that we were all missing.
- Can I actually save money by hosting my event virtually?
One major benefit of a virtual event vs. an in-person one is that the cost to host a virtual experience is much lower. Yes, you pay for the event platform, but you minimize your costs on the venue, catering, travel, and entertainment, making your profit margins substantially higher.
- How do I choose the right timing?
With virtual events, you also have the flexibility to choose your own date instead of proceeding with what the venue has available. Avoid picking dates that correlate with similar events and or holidays. Think about what timing would be best for your audience – is this an event they can attend during business hours, or is it a better fit for evenings or weekends? Should you present your event over multiple days so that attendees are not trapped at their computer for too long, or would you rather keep them captive to reduce attendee drop-off between days?
- How do I market my virtual event to get attendees interested?
With virtual events becoming more and more common, how do you make your event stand out? After ensuring that the platform is seamless for your attendees, the next big step is to focus on marketing. This gives your team the chance to be creative, have fun with new campaign ideas, and create unique hashtags for a memorable experience. Being limited with in-person interactions does not mean you still cannot create a strong sense of community through social interactivity. Creative marketing with a virtual event platform can seize a new target audience that might not otherwise have been able to attend – for example, attendees who live in other states and countries.
- How do I make sure attendees stay invested?
With your attendees being able to join from the comfort of their own home, you may need to rethink your event structure. Make your event inclusive and bring engagement to your sessions, whether it is having interactive chats and live polls available, game structures that allow your attendees to gain points for asking questions or talking to sponsors, or yoga and coffee breaks throughout the day.
Virtual Events can be great for business in a time of uncertainty, and bringing people together through virtual interactions can create a sense of community in a time when many individuals and their companies lack just that. Thinking of hosting a virtual event but not sure where to start? An event planner can help with peace of mind, support, and generating creative angles to make your event a success. Meet our team and call Verdical Events, we would love to discuss your project!