Hosting a successful virtual event
If you think a virtual conference can be done in a snap, by putting a blazer over your trousers, minutes before switching on your camera, well, we wish it were that easy.
A few months back, the business world was not that familiar even with basic video conferencing platforms, and now they are connecting virtually every single day. Organizations are moving to remote work environments; even the conferences and events are getting hosted online. The online activities are not limited to just video conferencing anymore, but range from celebrating a colleague’s baby shower to hosting Friday happy-hours with a BYOB-twist (Bring-Your-Own-Beer). So if you are one of the companies struggling to find an alternate solution for your conference or event, just think virtual! After all, the show must go on!
You only need to know the way to do it. And we’ve done it all, so you don’t have to worry or spend that extra time in planning your virtual event.
How Did It All Come Together?
At the beginning of the year 2020, our team at Xeo Marketing and Strategic Consultancy was gearing up for our next Canadian Channel Partners Conference, scheduled as an on-site event for the April time-frame in Vancouver. However, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic kiboshed our plans in a rush. Not wanting to disappoint our sponsors and attendees that were still looking forward to networking and driving leads through this event, we struggled to find a viable alternative to deliver the conference. We knew a simple online webinar would be out of the question. So we scrambled to pull together a fully-virtual conference utilizing elements of 3D Virtual Reality (3D-VR) at a rapid pace. And boy, did we pull off a sensational event both in terms of speed and quality, which if we say so ourselves – few teams would have been able to do.
How did we deliver a meaningful experience to a huge crowd in such a short time? With an instant reset of the entire team’s mindset, lots of hard work and a can-do attitude!
Organizing, promoting and hosting a “virtual event” is a story to share. @xeomarketing @madiyaneha
What Did We Learn About Hosting An Event Virtually?
We learned that the one-day-event took several weeks of time, effort, and resources invested in it for it to become successful. Of course, it was our first-time hosting a virtual event, and we had our own learning curve. So if you are planning your first virtual event or launching another virtual conference and looking for ways to get a better response from your audience, then read our article below. Through this blog post, we share with you the top things we learned during the process.
1. Set Realistic Goals
The first thing we did was a brainstorming session with our team. The strategy plan, the pitch, the design of the event set for an in-person meet is no longer apt.
Here is what we questioned:
- What are the goals of our event? And can we achieve these goals by organizing a virtual event?
- What will the planning process look like?
- What is our communication strategy to keep our audience updated?
Will it be over-communicating and collaborating? Will we be more creative with our engagement strategy, and how are we going to plan our social media content before, during and after the event?
2. Technology Check
Once we had our goals and expectations jotted, our team performed a technology audit and made a list of the tools and resources we had and those that were needed.
Prepping up technology for a virtual event is a challenging task. We conducted a test run several times and found issues that could have crashed our event if left undiscovered and unattended.
Here is what we peeked into:
- We identified the technology stack.
- Looked for platforms and resources that will complete the event.
- Communicated and collaborated with other resources and providers.
- We continuously did a test run on everything, every day, until we found it perfect.
- We prepped our team, the attendees, the speakers, and the vendors for the virtual experience with continuous interactions, performing dry-runs, taking feedback and addressing all minor details.
3. Build The Virtual Engagement
In addition to engaging with hosts like us, we understand that our clients are juggling between homeschooling, sharing their temporary home offices with their spouses, and even panic-buying sanitizers and toilet papers.
Engaging the audience is virtually more backbreaking. We traced out the various triggers that would engage our audience:
- We outlined the kind of content that would get a thumbs-up from our event audience. Our dynamic visual content received much appreciation.
- Our team designed a social media calendar well in advance, posted engaging content announcing the highlights of the event, and created awareness through podcasts.
- We interacted with the speakers and their willingness to participate and share their experiences.
- Providing visibility and engagement opportunities for our sponsors triggered setting up virtual booths and gave rise to options of videos and document uploads like brochures, press releases, online chat options and video call possibilities.
- Networking opportunities at the virtual event included break out sessions, personal chat features, face-to-face video call options, and the opportunity to connect during the wrap-up session.
- To drive further engagement from the attendees to the vendor booths, we created a contest that drove traffic to the vendor’s booths, where the attendees have to fill in a short survey to enter a chance to win an exclusive gift card.
4. Had Our Own WOW Factor
Can’t see well from the back row, eh?
Well, the charm of a virtual event is that everybody has the same view and the same experience. It is on the organizers to make the event memorable.
What was WOW for us?
- ‘Let’s lunch together’, was a spotlight. We delivered lunch to all the participants to the safety of their home via UberEATS, and this virtual lunch was appreciated by all.
- The icing on the cake was the crowd-sourced data through the poll feature during keynote speaker presentations. The value of real-time data collection is always immeasurable.
- Our event kicked off with live streaming on social media platforms giving the event a great start. We also updated keynote speaker appreciation on digital platforms immediately after their session.
- We bought in something that audiences always love, “A Gift Card” by filling in a short survey.
- On the day of the event, we had a fully functional team with tasks designated in advance, moderating the polls, answering the chats and an event host keeping the enthusiasm of the audience high by monitoring the moods of the conversation.
- Vendor Pavilion and Networking was a place to be for all the participants. This is how our Vendor pavilion looked like:
5. Beyond the event
An important factor in determining the success of a virtual event is feedback.
- During our closing session, we took feedback from the attendees and received suggestions to better our event the next time.
- We sent ‘Thank you emails’ to all attendees, speakers, and vendors at the event aiming to build the community stronger.
- We gathered real-time data at the virtual event and through post-event surveys which helped in generating reports related to the event like demographics, attendees which could be probable conversions, Social Media Analytics, and other valuable information impacting ROI.
- Alrighty! So what was needed at the end of this power-packed event? A ‘Virtual Happy Hour’ that we organized within our team to just relax!
Wasn’t that the fantastic part? Mmm Hmm.. *wink*
The best part of this COVID era – we all are learning and this read could set standards for your virtual meet, and your set standards can be the parameters for this evolving world.
Virtual Event is a strong platform for lead generation. Know how!#Virtualeventasaservice @xeomarketing @madiyaneha
Should you consider virtual event hosting?
Of course, yes! Xeo Marketing’s Turnkey Virtual Event Service is an innovative way for B2B organizations to engage with their target audience, network, and drive leads in a safe environment. If you are an organizer who is considering a virtual event and don’t know where to begin, ‘Book a Demo’ with us and we’ll be happy to take your event into 3D reality.