Online virtual events are here, and they are now the center of corporate event planning. Here are four ways to ensure that your virtual event is a success.
Hosting corporate events costs companies hundreds of thousands or sometimes millions of dollars. Expenditures such as travel, venue rental, hotels, decorations, catering, lighting, and seating adds up. These are only the direct costs and don’t include things like lost productivity from being out of the office.
What would change if you moved to virtual events?
When you take your event online, you can immediately strike out many of the costs to your company. While hosting a virtual event with a leading platform provider may cost from $50,000 $100,000, this represents considerable savings over a physical event. In addition to these savings, you will provide valuable benefits for your audience. Freeing yourself from the restrictions of a physical space enables you to invite more attendees, including entire teams rather than single representatives. More of your invited audience will be able to attend because they won’t have to cover travel or accommodation costs, and you can allow them to attend recorded events at their convenience rather than at a single scheduled time to avoid conflicting obligations.
Virtual events can expand your reach and take your events can reach new heights. You can decide what your venue looks like: your corporate headquarters, a sunny beach, or any other place your audience would enjoy. At 6Connex, we suggest four areas of focus to make your virtual event successful.
1. Control your timeline.
Virtual events require the same planning as a physical event. Although you could plan a virtual event up in two to three weeks, successful companies schedule at least eight to ten weeks for planning. This gives you time to prepare your audience, build your agenda, and secure great speakers and the right partners.
The important thing is that you develop a transparent timeline, clearly scheduling all tasks and communicating them to all parties involved so everyone understands their individual roles and responsibilities.
2. Design the event with your goals in mind.
Many virtual events providers will give self-service options for clients to manage their own events. If you choose this route, make sure that you partner with a provider that will guide you in this process and help you select features judiciously with a focus on attaining your stated goals. For example, if you want attendees to apply for jobs, then create a clear and easy path for them to do so. If you want them to complete training, then make these expectations clear, and create engaging experiences that make training enjoyable. You might include fun welcome videos, a variety of formats to access information, and gamification to reward progress.
3. Secure your audience.
Marketing for a virtual event is very different from physical events. The commitment to register for an online event is not the same as booking a hotel and buying the ticket for the flights. Make sure your guests keep your event on their schedule by putting post-registration communication in place from the beginning. Good conversion between registration and attendance is key, so make sure t plan for it! Send multiple reminders, and make sure each email subject line is different. For example, send one about the keynote speaker, another about networking opportunities, and another about various ways attendees will be able to access information at the event.
4. Encourage live attendance.
While a virtual event can be accessed at anytime from anywhere, you want to create a sense of urgency for your audience. You can do this by adding live components such as webinars and the ability to chat with industry experts and engage with peers. Include these elements in your reminder emails to increase the likelihood that invitees will attend your live event.
If you decide to host a physical event, you can encourage an immediate online audience as well as juice up the in-person component by making it a hybrid physical/virtual event. You can let the physical audience know how many additional people are attending online and take questions from your remote audience to share with on-site attendees. Virtual attendees can interact with recruiters, peers, or experts via virtual formats such as Skype or chat rooms. Hybrid events are often a great way to introduce the concept of virtual events to an audience that has become accustomed to a live version.