The Covid-19 pandemic messed with many businesses’ event strategies, forcing them to turn to the digital world to try and provide people with an event experience good enough for them to remain loyal. Many businesses had to transition to online working, working from home and communicating with colleagues and clients via video chats and instant messaging services.
During that time, there was a surge of panic for businesses with events in place. Initially, many of them were cancelled, especially the likes of music concerts and workout classes. However, it wasn’t long before it was decided that we can make this work online.
The value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, but there are many benefits to hosting virtual events. In this blog, we investigate what virtual events are, the types, pros and cons, reasons to host a virtual event, and how.
What is a Virtual Event?
Virtual events are events that are held online. They can either be live-streamed or pre-recorded and require a good computer setup and Wi-Fi. Individuals can experience events online, rather than attending in person.
There are several types of virtual events, including:
- Music concerts
- Workout classes
- Online trade shows and exhibitions
- Virtual weddings
- Job, university, and onboarding fairs
Although attending an event in person is a favourable option, for some people it just isn’t possible. Plus, we all know from the restrictions inflicted on us over the past couple of years that virtual events and remote working is here to stay.
Why Host a Virtual Event?
Virtual events are an essential way to deliver a message. Whether you’re a marketing company creating educational videos or a leisure centre making pre-recorded workout videos. Virtual events broaden audience reach, drive leads and revenue, and build loyalty and lifetime value.
Hosting an event virtually is also paramount for accessibility, and it’s a shame to think that most of the virtual events we have available now are a result of the pandemic. Virtual events ensure that people who physically can’t attend in person due to a disability, can.
Another reason to host a virtual event is to savour business budgets. Online events are less costly, saving money for other essential business expenditures or larger, annual events that require more of a budget.
The Pros and Cons of Virtual Events
We look at the pros and cons of running virtual events. The pros include:
- Cost and time effective – Virtual events save businesses and attendees money and time from travelling. Not to mention venue and catering hire, and all the other necessities for an in-person event budget.
- Provide flexibility – There are several interactive tools and elements that can be used online to increase engagement and complement branding. Attending events from the comfort of your own home is also a bonus.
- Expand customer reach – Events hosted in-person are likely going to have attendees who live nearby or have easy access to your event venue. Hosting a virtual event allows for your radius to widen to people outside your location and further afield (across the world if you will!).
- Expand collaborator/speaker reach – Virtual events provide businesses with the opportunity to acquire speakers and collaborators for the event from anywhere in the world.
- Accessibility and scalability – There are no limitations with venue capacity, so more people can attend. People who can’t attend events due to accessibility can also attend virtual events, which is incredibly important.
On the other hand, the cons of virtual events are:
- Technical issues – Something we all dread, the WiFi cutting out during a live stream or online tools not working the way they should be. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it can and it likely will.
- Lack of networking opportunities – Attendees can’t meet, greet, or network with as many people as an online event. However, virtual breakout rooms or separate video chats are a viable option.
- Distractions – Sometimes, the TV can be distracting, or a personal mobile phone ringing, or children running in front of the camera. But a quiet setup far away from all this can avoid distractions altogether.
How to Host an Online Event
The planning process for hosting a virtual event barely differs from any other event. In other words, don’t do anything different or put any less effort into a virtual event. To begin, decide on how you are going to stream the event (live or recorded). Make sure to create a clear and engaging event guide that lists everything attendees need to know, from how to join, to the times and tools they need to use.
Be transparent about ticket pricing (and make it affordable), think carefully about session timings, whether there is a risk of encountering connectivity issues, and make sure to provide your attendees with feedback surveys for your own benefit. Once you have hosted your event, you can use these surveys, among other data, to analyse the event’s success and if there are improvements that need to be made for the next event.
At Bigwave Marketing, we host several virtual events for our staff and clients, from marketing webinars to Deep Dive sessions, and we welcome anyone else who may be interested in upskilling in marketing. To find out more, why not contact us?