How to Convert Your Live Event into a Virtual Event
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused event planners across the globe to rethink their projects. As of April 8, 2020, 99% of companies had suspended all or most travel to China and Hong Kong, 97% canceled most travel to Europe and 94% limited travel to and within the U.S. according to a Global Business Travel Association poll.
Despite travel restrictions, business continues. Event planners have taken innovative approaches to conferences, meetings and other typically in-person experiences. When physical travel isn’t possible, a virtual event can facilitate business continuity.
Translating your event to a virtual space
Virtual events can be an effective way to maintain customer engagement, build connections and promote business objectives. With a little innovative thinking, any event can translate to a virtual environment.
Here are some tips for taking your event online:
Decide the goals and objectives of the event
As you consider virtual event ideas, keep in mind the objectives of the experience. What do you want event attendees to take away from the event? What are your commercial intentions?
If you already have content that was meant for an in-person event, you may need to alter it to align with the new circumstances. You want to make sure that event presenters don’t look insensitive to the Covid-19 pandemic. Create a list of content you already possess, and then determine what can remain unchanged, what needs to be modified and what you need to add.
Decide the format: Live stream, pre-recorded, interactive, etc.
The virtual event platform you use should support your objectives. For instance, if you want attendees to have an opportunity to ask questions, you need to choose a platform that allows for live broadcasting. On the other hand, if you plan to showcase a pre-recorded demonstration, another type of webinar platform might be better suited to your event.
Remember that it’s easier to lose attendee attention during an online event; there are more distractions to contend with. Consider breaking up long-form content in small chunks to maintain engagement.
Adjust event content for the web
Virtual conferences are not a 1-to-1 replacement for in-person events. Event speakers should acknowledge the situation, because ignoring it could make them seem insensitive. If your speakers aren’t used to communicating to an online audience, they should do a practice run before going live.
If possible, try to have some people in the room with the speaker—at a safe distance. This will help them time their jokes and feel more comfortable.
Choose a tech provider that can offer a seamless experience
There are many options for technology platforms when hosting an online experience. Though you could technically hold an event with just a laptop and a webcam, it might not look very professional. Consider working with a local expert, such as a destination management company (DMC), that is familiar with technology providers that understand how to host a virtual event. Get some quotes from several vendors to determine what sort of price point makes sense for your event.
Develop ways to keep the audience engaged
You should understand what your target audience is looking for when attending your event. Are they there to gain knowledge, learn about a specific product, or network with other professionals?
Try utilizing a mix of different types of content to keep your audience’s attention. For instance, you might start with a brief panel of experts, then transition to a Q&A segment. You can also consider games and other interactive elements to keep things interesting. Some virtual event platforms allow you to poll the audience or ask trivia questions, for example.
Provide digital networking opportunities
One of the primary reasons business people attend events is to make connections with other professionals in their industry. While this is harder to do in a virtual environment, it’s not impossible. For example, chat functionality can make it easier for guests to interact with one another, ask questions and share social media information.
How a DMC can support your virtual event
Event planners typically work with DMCs when putting together experiences outside of their local region. DMCs have knowledge of local cultures and business practices. These benefits also translate to virtual events like live streams and webinars.
For example, if you’re already in the region where the event was supposed to take place, a DMC can help you find a reputable technology provider to help you host and manage your virtual event. DMC consultants understand what a fair price is for products and services; they can help you select vendors and manager supplier relationships.
Above all, DMCs are flexible and supportive. DMC consultants are experts at dealing with sudden changes in plans, making them invaluable partners for event planners.
To learn more about how local experts can support your event objectives, get in touch with one of our reputable DMCs today.