Although many people had high hopes that the pandemic would soon end, the Omicron variant has us wondering if the era of masks and social distancing is here to stay.
With the new variant causing COVID cases to rise throughout the United States, you might be worried about the future of in-person events.
Unfortunately, there’s no telling what the future holds – especially when there’s a highly contagious pandemic spreading around the world. This means that the future of in-person events is precarious at best.
In 2020, many companies were faced with the difficult task of turning their in-person events into a digital experience. The lack of time and experience with online tools led many of these events to be rushed, unprofessional, and disappointing.
With COVID cases rising once again, it might feel like history is doomed to repeat itself.
The great news this time around is that now, live stream events have the potential to be just as good- if not better – than in-person events.
Now, we’d obviously never root for the pandemic, even as virtual event producers. We believe that in the post-pandemic world, there will still be plenty of hybrid and live-stream events. But in the meantime, it’s important to be realistic about the risks of in-person events.
Online tools have come a long way in the past year, and many event planners have aptly started to consider virtual events as a solid option for their upcoming conventions.
Why should you transition to a virtual event?
As we’ve already discussed, nothing is certain in today’s climate. Currently, in-person events are not guaranteed. There’s always a chance that a spike in COVID cases could shut down every in-person event in the near future.
Virtual events don’t have the same issue. With a virtual event, there is no risk of cancellation due to capacity parameters or social distancing mandates. Attendees can plan their schedule around your event without fear of the event getting shut down.
Not only is this a huge plus for your audience, but it’s also a lifted burden for your event planner. With a virtual event, you can say goodbye to the constant anxiety and fear that all of your hard work and planning might be canceled at the last minute.
With the COVID-19 cases surging, you can never be too careful. There are likely many people who are at risk of contracting the disease at a large gathering among your audience members. Pregnant women, people with pre-existing health conditions, and those older than 65 are all examples of people at a higher risk of getting COVID.
Rather than exclude those people or encourage them to endanger themselves by attending your event, consider shifting to a digital space. Virtual events don’t have any risk when it comes to spreading the virus. With everyone safe in their own homes, you’re showing your audience that you care about their well-being first and foremost.
Even vaccinated individuals can still contract and spread COVID. As concerns about breakthrough cases rise, centering safety in your event is more important than ever.
One of the most attractive qualities of virtual event planning is the low cost. You might be surprised at just how much money you can save when you take away the price tags connected to venues, catering, and decor.
In addition to cutting costs, you’ll likely find that the money you do spend is worth every penny. Rather than spending money on food or balloons, you can spend your money on a customized domain or high-end video production.
Here’s a blog from MootUp that goes into more detail about how virtual events can save you money.
Now that we’ve covered why you should consider having a virtual event, let’s unpack the how.
What steps should you take to shift your event online?
1. Reimagine your content in a digital format
At the heart of every single convention or gala is the content. Whether your event is in-person or online, the content is what’s going to keep audience members engaged and excited. It doesn’t matter if you pull out all of the stops to have an amazing event if the content isn’t there.
By reimagining your content in a virtual space, you’re enabling yourself to push past the boundaries you might have faced in a physical setting. Digital formats allow you to give attendees downloadable content like eBooks or PowerPoint slides that can amplify your event overall.
When transitioning your event to an online space, remember what’s really important. Your content needs to be the center of attention. Of course, it definitely helps to have a good-looking, easy-to-use platform – but all of that means nothing if there’s no content to enhance.
2. Choose the right technology platform
By far one of the most important parts of hosting a live-stream event is finding the right platform. Not every single event needs to be high-tech and overly produced – some could likely get away with using a simple Zoom meeting.
Bigger conferences, however, would likely find a lot more success by partnering with a virtual platform provider that can build out a personalized digital convection space. Utilizing services like this allows companies to have luxuries like moderated chat rooms, seamless breakout sessions, and other fully customized features.
To learn more about which provider is right for you, check out our blog on the best virtual event platforms of 2022.
3. Email your audience the new details, and communicate your reasoning
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to host your virtual conference, you need to give an update to your attendees. The best way to do this is to provide clear, detailed information about how and why your convention is now virtual.
A lot of businesses may have strayed away from shifting to online platforms because of their audiences. People aren’t exactly shy when it comes to bashing virtual events. Because of that, many event planners might be nervous to disappoint their audience by making their events digital.
But isn’t it likely that their disappointment is largely due to the multitude of sub-par virtual events they’ve been to before? Your number one priority should be to prove your audience wrong. Show them that virtual events can be great if the right amount of time and effort is put in.
4. Embrace the possibilities of remote events
Possibly the best part about virtual events is the multitude of opportunities it offers. The possibilities are endless when it comes to hosting a virtual event. From organized breakout rooms to customized domains, virtual events have the ability to cater specifically to what your company needs.
With a virtual event, you have the opportunity to be as creative and outside the box as you want. There’s no need to adhere to the traditional expectations of conventions because live-streamed events are inherently non-traditional. Because of that, we encourage you to take advantage of the digital sphere. Add personalized user profiles, accessible sponsor booths, or different chat room options.
Virtual events are the future, so get ahead of the trend and capitalize before your competition does.
5. Follow up with your audience for feedback
Not only is following up a great way to get new leads and interest from your audience, but it’s also the best way to see how attendees felt about your virtual event. While some follow-up emails can be personalized and detailed, others could be as simple as sending out a survey where audience members can offer their feedback.
This is a great way to ensure that all of your future events will be exponentially better than your first. By taking the time to listen to your attendees and focusing on their thoughts and opinions, you can target what parts of your virtual events need to be changed – and which parts should stay the same.
Check out this blog post for some ideas of survey questions you should be asking after your events.
Making the shift to a virtual event might just be the best decision you’ve ever made.
Live steam events offer an option for those who want to take a more modern approach when hosting a convention. Although it’s not the traditional approach, it might be the best one. In a time where in-person events are not guaranteed or even necessarily recommended, virtual events are a safer, more reliable, and cost-effective way to host events.