Virtual Events in 2020: 5 Ways to Boost Your Business in Uncertain Times
Businesses across various industries have been impacted by the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year. In addition to disrupting supply chains across the globe, the virus has also discouraged people from leaving their homes. This has made it difficult for organisers to hold events, such as seminars, conferences, and concerts, in person.
Many corporate event organisers can’t afford to cancel their events, so many have turned toward hosting virtual events instead of live in-person ones. If you’re new to the world of virtual event organising, here are some tips to boost your success with this new corporate event management arrangement.
1. Host your event on the right video platform
Once you start planning your virtual event, one of the first considerations you will need to keep in mind is the number of attendees. An event that is expected to host 15 people will have to be organised a little differently from an event being attended by 150 people. This is due to the limitations of the video conferencing software you will be using.
Some video conferencing software such as Skype can support up to 50 participants at a time. So if your event turnout exceeds this number, the extra attendees won’t be able to attend your event.
Other video conferencing software such as Zoom can hold up to 100 participants (or even 500 participants if you purchase an add-on). However, they do not support virtual meetings that are longer than 40 minutes. If your event goes on longer than this time limit, the meeting will automatically close and all virtual participants will be booted from the event.
Some virtual event platforms may offer additional features for boosting attendee engagement. These include virtual lobbies, live chat, and polling that make your virtual event feel a bit more interactive.
Another consideration to keep in mind when choosing a platform is accessibility. Hosting your event on a platform that is difficult for attendees to download and install may reduce attendance. Some virtual events can be accessed by simply visiting a URL in a web browser, so they do not require attendees to download or install any files.
Event organisers will need to weigh up the advantages and drawbacks of each platform before choosing the one that is the right fit for their event.
2. Use online marketing
Promoting events via online marketing was already the norm prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, online promotion has taken on an even larger role in the current era.
Event promoters can use paid advertising such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads to promote their event online. If your event company already has a sizable following on social media platforms such as Facebook and Linked In, you can advertise your virtual event there too.
Organisers could also use the help of paid influencers to spread the word about their virtual event. People who are reluctant to attend virtual events may feel more comfortable if someone they are familiar with is attending too. Email marketing can also be used to reach out to potential attendees who do not use social media.
Promoters should also use the right SEO optimised keywords when promoting their event. This will boost the event’s chances of showing up in organic search results on Google.
3. Select a reasonable ticket price
Many people are still warming up to the idea of paying to attend a “virtual” event. Due to this reason, it’s important that your event company charges a reasonable price for tickets.
Attending a virtual event is usually a less engaging and immersive experience than attending an in-person event. So people are less likely to attend if your ticket price is the same as the price of attending an in-person event.
Another consideration to keep in mind when managing the ticketing for your event is the ticket format. Given that most people are staying indoors during these troubling times, it may be wise to sell your tickets exclusively online. These tickets should be easy to access and use for entry into your virtual event.
4. Take advantage of the “virtual” aspect of your event
One of the main advantages of hosting virtual events is that they can be pre-planned. If your event is a webinar that features talks by many different speakers, you can ask each speaker to pre-record their presentation and play it back during the event.
This reduces the likelihood of mistakes or interruptions occurring during your webinar. It also helps organisers ensure their event goes according to schedule.
Speakers should be available for a live question and answer session after their presentation is broadcast to boost audience engagement.
5. Expect tech troubles
The aforementioned points may have given you the impression that all virtual events go smoothly with the right planning. However, the truth is that you never know what to expect when your event starts.
Hosting hundreds of people on the same virtual event platform could go awry if your internet connection isn’t up to the task. Similarly, some of your speakers may have trouble accessing or attending the event due to tech problems of their own.
Virtual events are still a relatively new trend, so many organisers do not know what to expect when their event is underway. If you’re lucky, your virtual event platform provider may offer efficient services for troubleshooting any problems that occur. Unfortunately, your attendees may be less forgiving if any disruptions occur during your live event.
You should be prepared to offer refunds to attendees who are displeased with the way your virtual event turned out. This may reduce your profits in the short-run, but it could save your event company’s reputation in the long-run.
Corporate event management is never easy. So event organisers should leverage all the virtual tools at their disposal to make the planning process easier and more organised.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – leading conference organiser in Birmingham offering event management and venue finding services. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.
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