Why Should People Add Virtual Event Components To Their In-Person Events?
Conferences are great. They bring people together, showcase some of the best that the industry has to offer, and can build up to a positive brand image. And when you make them virtual, they can do a lot more!
Hybrid event platforms are probably the fastest-rising business model in tech right now. Marketers want to host hybrid events. They look forward to blending in-person and virtual elements and making the most of both worlds.
While in-person events have their own charm, adding virtual elements to them can be a game-changer for most businesses.
You can save money
Budget is always among the top priorities for any event marketer. And if there is a way for you to achieve your event goals and more without having to expand your budget, you’re not going to refuse. Adding virtual sections to your in-person event can do just that. You can reach a wider audience, provide breathtaking experiences, engage with your audience, track their behaviors, and do much more without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money.
You have more flexibility
Imagine that you’re hosting an in-person event and the venue is suddenly unavailable. It would be prudent to have a backup but in case you don’t, can you imagine the struggle of looking for a new venue? On the other hand, if you decide to switch to a virtual platform and work with a virtual event company, you have the flexibility of choosing the date, time, geography, size, budget, etc. In other words, you have more control over your event.
You have more engagement options at your disposal
While the personal connection of in-person events cannot be effectively replaced, virtual events are a slightly better option if you’re looking to engage with a large group of people at the same time. The best virtual platforms, such as Almond Virtex, Hubilo, Eventcube, Airmeet, Hopin provide different options to engage every attendee. From games to quizzes, and chats to live polls, a lot is available to event marketers through a virtual setup.
With the rising popularity of hybrid events, platforms also provide the capability to connect in-person audiences with virtual audiences.
You can track your event performance better
Good event technology comes with robust analytics mechanisms that provide very meaningful insights to businesses. They can use this data to drive their objectives for future events or take market-related decisions.
Now that you understand why business can benefit by adding virtual components to their in-person events, let’s look at a few events that you can convert to hybrid ones.
- Conferences where you have several speakers and attendees.
- Trade shows and expos where you need to dislay a large selection of products. You can make use of the customization that platforms offer to make your own booths.
- Award ceremonies that also have performances and family involvement.
In all honesty, any event can have virtual elements to it. And with so many companies doing it, it is time to experiment with hybrid event platforms.
Who knows? You might end up hosting the best event of your life.
Six Different Ways to Blend In-Person and Virtual Events
For years now, events have been the go-to strategy for most businesses to improve their lead generation, engineer a sales pipeline, build brand awareness, and enhance their customer loyalty. Six out of 10 leaders believe that event marketing is the most effective marketing tool in their marketing mix.
Picture any in-person event you may have attended in the past and you will immediately remember the beautiful venue, the sponsorship videos, exhibits, coupons and other offers, interesting workshops, speeches, and the networking, of course.
However, what is the best way to make this happen?
We have not one but six ways in which you can blend in-person and virtual events. However, before we get started, remember that you must know the goal of your event. Only then will you be able to gauge the real need and effectiveness of blending virtual elements. It makes sense only if the blending of your in-person and virtual events is in alignment with your goals.
1. Stream your events
From music festivals and product launches to weddings and birthday parties, streaming events have become one of the easiest ways to promote an event to virtual audiences in different corners of the world. If your content is good and has always been, rest assured that people everywhere will attend. And that is the reason why big conferences like Salesforce’s Dreamforce have attendance rates that continue to soar.
2. Use good hybrid event technology
To make things easier for you, ensure that the platform has a single registration portal. Working with two separate lists is time-consuming and unnecessary.
In fact, a single page for all your audiences will serve as a good starting point to make them feel connected through the same event agenda, games, and interactions.
3. Engage with your audiences
Every event is an experience and while the in-person attendees are usually touted to feel it better, there is plenty of room for engagement even on virtual platforms like Almond Virtex, Airmeet, vFairs. What you need is to communicate with your service provider and together create opportunities in the form of chats, quizzes, interesting games, and so on.
4. Use social media extensively
If you are wondering how to use social media to advertise a virtual event, then we have news for you. You need to learn, fast. Nearly eight out of 10 attendees are on social media and you can leverage it not just to promote but also to foster that connection between your in-person and virtual attendees like we spoke earlier.
5. Use the same promotional material
A great way to bring engagement up is by distributing similar promotional content before your event and using it to ask questions, create polls and general conversation with your attendees. It could be in the form of blogs, pamphlets, videos, etc.
6. Continue after your event
Once the event is done, you must continue to hold conversations that engage both types of audiences. The event itself is a common factor and how you leverage it to attract your audiences matters. Share your event in the form of post-event snippets, audio, podcasts, blogs, and encourage your attendees to participate in dialogue.
Just like everything else, event marketing too, has changed. All you need is a little flexibility and innovation to catch up and make the most of it.
Glossary Of Virtual And Hybrid Events Terms
If you’re new to this limitless digital world of events, fret not. It is very simple to navigate. All you need is to be aware of a few terms and how they affect event planning and organization. Here is a quick glossary of virtual and hybrid event terms that you need to know.
It is one of the distinct advantages of using certain virtual event platform. AI matchmaking is a feature that makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) to connect attendees based on the information that they share with the platform such as their designation, previous activities, location, etc.
A breakout session takes place when a larger event allows for smaller interactions between people for a certain period of time. These sessions take place in ‘breakout rooms’ where attendees can interact and rejuvenate.
A conference is a large gathering of people to discuss issues of common interest. It can be either in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
The backbone of any type of virtual or hybrid event, engagement tools help keep the audience invested in the event. Using these tools, they can consume content and share their thoughts with the business hosting the event. A few examples are chat, live polls, quizzes, Q&A discussions, etc.
Event apps are a great way to ensure high levels of engagement even before the event. These apps contain all the information related to the event, allow attendees to register and complete their profiles, connect with others on the app, play games, ask questions, and much more. They must be quick, easy to navigate and integrate with other systems.
By turning engagement activities into games with leaderboards and winners, businesses can make events more engaging and exciting for their attendees.
A hybrid event combines both in-person and virtual elements. Any event can be made hybrid using a good hybrid event platform, such as vFairs, Airmeet, Hopin, Eventcube, Almond Virtex. For instance, awards show with only 100 in-person attendees and the remaining joining virtually.
An in-person event is one where attendees physically come together at a venue. For instance, a conference or a book launch.
Live streaming is the act of capturing in-person events and broadcasting them to virtual attendees. A close analogy would be TV viewers enjoying a match live.
The main purpose of any event, networking is an activity where attendees or participants connect on common interests. They may continue to keep the connection alive long after the event is done.
Most businesses, in addition to streaming their events, also record them and edit and ready them up for on-demand viewing on their websites.
If you are looking to attend an event, you will need to register for it. This registration can be either online or offline depending on the type of event. Businesses will ask for basic information and may sometimes need you to provide more specific details such as your interests, professional qualifications, and so on.
How to Use Gamification to Improve Your Virtual Or Hybrid Events
How do you think some businesses manage to host the most incredible virtual and hybrid events. Among other things, they use gamification in virtual event platform. Gamification doesn’t mean just playing games. It means creating a game-like setup by throwing in challenges, contests, leaderboards, or quizzes. Gamification allows businesses to leverage the competitive side in most humans and boosts engagement like no other.
In other words, gamification can
- Boost audience engagement
- Enable networking among attendees and participants
- Even enhance sponsorship RoI
- Create a lasting impression in the minds of the audience
1. Goal setting
While we believe that rewards and competitions get attendees going, we also think it is important to decide the purpose of adding gamification to your event. Are you looking to do it for more brand awareness, or is it to increase sponsorship RoI? Identifying goals and introducing gamification that is in alignment with them is more likely to help you hit the jackpot.
2. Knowing which game to pick
It makes more sense to have a game of virtual basketball at a shoe launch than an automobile launch. So, make sure that your game is relevant to your goal and to your event. For instance, at the shoe launch, you could have a virtual basketball tournament with different levels of difficulty. The winner’s reward could be the new shoes you are launching.
You could also partner with a well-known gaming company and that can help you promote your sponsors as well.
Similarly, if you’re hosting an employee night, then team-building activities like scavenger hunts, escape rooms, and group trivia tournaments are perfect. They bring people together and are fun.
Along with the right game, choose the most suitable rewards too. When you know that the speaker at your event is in-demand, you could make time with him/her, a reward. Similarly, if you have a trade show, then discounts and coupons could be a reward.
3. Involving your sponsors
Dedicate one or two of your games to your sponsors. Let them lead in deciding what the challenge and the reward for it would be. Sponsors could promote their products as rewards or offer heavy discounts to winners. This way, they will feel in control of that particular part of your event and will be happier. It also improves their chances of a strong RoI.
4. Rule setting
Every game has a set of rules and that’s what makes it all the more fun. Communicate with your attendees and keep them well-informed of the rules. You could make a slideshow or a video to make the rules easy to remember. Using the best virtual event platforms such as vFairs, Almond Virtex, Airmeet, Hopin, Eventcube can help take care of these little details.
5. Tracking your games for the future
Gamification may not always work. So, it is important to keep track of who’s enjoying what. So, make sure you are closely monitoring these activities. If the virtual basketball tournament didn’t go as well as expected, you could try something different in the future. That’s how tracking helps!
Checklists To Prepare For A Virtual Art Exhibition
Digital art has been around for a long time now and virtual art exhibitions have been quick to catch up. Moreover, there are several virtual exhibition platforms such as Hopin, Almond Virtex, vFairs, Airmeet, Hubilo that make the display of art an immersive experience altogether.
If you are an artist or run an art gallery and want to set up your first or any virtual art exhibition, you have many options. However, before you get started, here is a quick checklist that you need to be prepared with.
Before the event:
1. If you’re working with an exhibition sponsor, then get all your event-related questions answered. You might want to know the name, contact details, experience, responsibilities with respect to the event, their contract requirements, and so on.
2. Then, have your contract vetted by someone with legal experience, preferably a lawyer.
3. Once the logistics and your contract are out of the way, put together a list of artworks that you are going to display. If your inventory is out of date, ensure that it is updated.
4. While you’re at it, you might also want to look into the quality of your digital art. Since it is going to be on display virtually, you must make sure that the resolution of your images is clear.
5. Now that you have completed your background work, you will need to start working in the foreground too. This includes sprucing up your web presence. So, take a good look at your website and see how you can update it to attract more traffic, including registrations for your event.
7. Take to social media to promote your virtual expo. Before you do that, ensure that your profile is updated with your latest work to add more credibility to your promotions. You may also use email marketing to invite attendees.
After the event:
1. There is some work to be done during the event as well. That includes tracking your attendees and observing their interests closely. You can also utilize the various features available on the platform to make your event more interactive and engaging.
2. Once the event is done, make sure to use the data that will be made available to you. This is how virtual exhibitions deliver more RoI than physical expos. They bring you very valuable data that you can use to set up more targeted post-event campaigns.
3. For instance, if you found a list of attendees who showed more interest in your sketches, then you can customize an email or a social media campaign for them. Achieving this through a physical exhibition might be relatively more difficult.
4. Another useful trick in the book is to send thank you emails. They can be a great way to initiate contact and continue conversations with those who were more engaged with your event. You could also use a template that is available through your platform or one that you have created yourself.
5. Include highlights from your event, a quick roundup of the top exhibits, and maybe even snapshots of your best-selling exhibits. Don’t forget to include a heartfelt thank you with a sneak peek into what you are planning next.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Event's Content
If you think back to events online, you probably would have fonder memories of those that had great content along with an excellent presentation. All your hard work is unlikely to pay off if you are unable to add value through your content.
But in this world where audiences are usually bombarded with content of all kinds, how do you create world-class content for your event and get the most out of it?
All Your Content Matters
Often, we tend to believe that content marketing, which is nothing but great content to promote your event and generate leads for it, is crucial. Truth be told, there is more to your content than just that. The content that you share with your audience during the event is also very important because this is what they will use long after your event is done.
For your pre-event content you need good landing pages to drive registration, promotional posts on social media, blogs, emails, videos, etc.).
For your content during the event, think of attractive presentations, videos, fun infographics, brochures, and if you’re up for it, experiences in the metaverse.
For your post-event content, you could convert your leads by sending them great post-event videos, white papers, emails, guides, and so on).
Specific Content Is Always Better
Instead of creating generic content that is likely to appeal to nobody, work harder to identify your target audience and design tailor-made campaigns for them. Something that several virtual events companies help you do is to create buyer personas. These personas have relevant information related to the demographics, occupational, financial, social, and emotional aspects of your buyer or attendee.
When you’re equipped with special detail, you can create more compelling content. So, spend some time researching your potential list of attendees and what they are like.
Your sources of information could be your existing list of customers, website visitors, customers of competitors even.
As a next step, you can decide the tone you want to use, how visual you want your content to be, what type of content you want to try- shorter or longer, etc.
How Do You Produce Great Content?
Earlier, we discussed how content should be specific. In other words, you must avoid being vague and too verbose, especially if you’re hosting a virtual event.
You need content that can get your audience to sit up and take notice. Think of statistics, anecdotes, maybe even asking questions.
Be as inclusive as you can be. Always assume that the audience consists of average readers. So, your content must be easily consumable and leave an impression.
Great content is almost always highly relatable. The reader or listener is able to experience whatever the speaker or writer has to convey. A technique that is quickly catching up to cover this aspect of content is brand storytelling. Every brand now wants a narrative that includes snippets of hardships and small victories to make itself more relatable and inspire decisions.
Include social proof in your content. All of us are more accepting of something when we know that it is popular, especially in our social circle. So, include statistics, customer testimonials, and feedback in your content.
Remember that the content you share must not only provide value but inspire attendees to take action, like signing up, or buying something. Use a combination of specific content with tried and tested psychological tricks to achieve your desired results.
Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Different Event Formats
The pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in the way events are conducted.
Now that the world is slowly doing away with major restrictions, we have seen the return of physical or in-person events. In spite of this development, three out of four businesses want to retain the virtual aspect of their events. That’s brought about a sudden surge in the popularity of hybrid events.
Managing a virtual and in-person event at the same time is no mean task. And while upskilling on the job is great, here is a way for you to beat the learning curve. Simply avoid making these common mistakes associated with managing different event formats.
Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Different Event Formats
In-person, virtual, or hybrid- whatever your event format, you need to have a solid plan in place. It should cover important elements of the event such as logistics, registrations, participant details, agenda, speaker information, and so on. If your plan is not inclusive, you might end up getting lost in minor details and wasting time and resources.
Avoid this mistake and make a master plan that includes everything and smaller plans for each task. Delegate these tasks to other team members and ensure that they know the plan like the back of their hands.
Ignoring Your Audience
Sometimes, you might end up ignoring the reason why you’re hosting an event in the first place: your audience. You may focus too much on registrations, or sticking to the agenda instead. If you are unable to hold the attention of your audience, then your event may not be able to achieve its primary objectives.
After all, the core of any event is to connect people. If your event is a virtual one then you must put in more effort to keep the interaction alive. This can be achieved partly through engagement tools and activities on virtual event platforms like personal chat, individual booths, one-on-one networking, experiential marketing elements, and much more.
One thing to keep in mind is that these activities alone won’t suffice to engage your audience. The content you share with your audience has to be top-notch and drive value as well.
Just like you would for an in-person event, you must get enough time to rehearse your event and ensure that everything is going as per the agenda. Things like internet speed and connectivity, sound must be tested while practising.
You could also anticipate important questions and likely problems you might run into and prepare for them in advance. For instance, maintaining a backup set of topics to discuss in case a speaker is unable to participate in the event or starting off a Slack channel to discuss FAQs and having a moderator to manage it.
Choosing the Wrong Platform
Platforms like Virtex not only offer the ability to stream your event, but offer many other ancillary features like marketing your event on social media or providing a immersive experience online. Make sure to choose a platform that gives your audience the closest in-person experience that they can have in a hybrid event.
How Can NFTs Change The Landscape Of The Events Industry
If you are a follower of the latest tech news and take a keen interest in the digital economy, then you must already be aware of the rising popularity of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. They are quickly becoming one of the most popular digital assets and virtual event platforms are starting to take notice of them.
First things first, what is an NFT?
Let’s understand this with an example. Assume that you are a digital illustrator and have you created a beautiful digital painting. This painting, on the surface, is a piece of art but it is also unique because there is only one such painting. It cannot be compared or exchanged with any other painting on grounds of similarity.
But, what if suddenly someone ‘stole’ your painting and made many copies of it on the Internet? Now, it is no longer unique and there is also no way for you to prove your ownership of it. The value of your work of art is lost forever and your talent has not received its due.
You can avoid this situation by buying an NFT. This NFT will convert your digital painting into a unique digital asset and confer a certificate of ownership on it. Now, since every token is linked to blockchain technology, it will be embedded in public records forever. So, if anyone will have to buy this ‘painting’, they will need to purchase it from you.
Are NFTs just restricted to collectibles and artwork?
No. In fact, many hybrid event platforms are keenly exploring the possibility of using NFTs to prevent the resale of tickets or ticket scalping. However, they can do more than that. NFT could be a part of the essential strategies for a successful hybrid event. Let’s take a look.
Creating VIP-level experiences
The power of NFT lies in its ability to grant status to its owner. So, virtual event platforms, like virtex, could associate them with exclusive access to certain segments of virtual events. These could be conversations with the who’s who of the industry or an awards night with C-level executives of top organizations, and much more.
Providing employee incentives
The reward for winning a virtual quiz or a contest could be an NFT to gain access to an exclusive community or to provide them ‘stage’ time at a hybrid or a virtual event as a means of recognition.
One of the biggest industries where NFTs are set to take over is gaming. You could center your engagement activities at your next corporate event around gamification. A series of activities, open both to your physical and virtual audiences, could end with the winner receiving an NFT associated with a digital asset.
Getting the best booths
Virtual real estate is a big deal today and you could sell NFTs for your next event too. Sponsors could buy these NFTs for the best ‘booth’, or a longer face-time if your event is virtual. You could also associate NFTs with exhibitor spaces at your in-person event.
Proven ways to engage your guests in hybrid events:
With the introduction of vaccines and the incidence of the pandemic reducing considerably, the year 2022 is witnessing a tremendous increase in hybrid events. The hybrid events happen both physically and virtually and manage both audiences simultaneously. Though it offers the best of both worlds, there are chances of less audience engagement in hybrid events. With the right hybrid event platform and appropriate engagement tools, it is possible to engage the audience throughout the event.
Some tips for engaging the audience in the hybrid event:
There are many options to make a hybrid event work. There are many excellent ways to enhance engagement, from online quizzes to scavenger hunts. Let’s discuss some of these techniques here.
1. Schedule the hybrid event smartly:
Hybrid events are a blend of a physical and virtual audience. It might be easy for the physical audience to attend long sessions, as they take breaks in between. For the virtual audience, it is hard to sit with the gadget for long hours. Thus, hybrid events demand smart scheduling to retain audience interest and participation.
It is optimal to conduct shorter and more frequent sessions. Try to start and finish the virtual sessions earlier. Conduct quiz and contests with rewards during the break sessions so that the virtual audience comes back even after leaving for breaks.
2. Create small groups for effective mingling:
Some attendees find it hard to speak in front of a large audience. Hence, dividing the audience into small groups to encourage conversation. Use networking lounges and special digital lobbies to accomplish this task.
Choose a hybrid event platform that offers live chat and video call options to connect with the in-person guests and the speakers. It offers opportunities for virtual and in-person guests to chat with each other. This helps in better networking and, in turn, fosters engagement. This engagement strategy should be prepared early in the planning process to avoid last-minute work.
3. Enhance networking opportunities between in-person and online attendees:
In the hybrid event, both the online and in-person attendees should get the opportunity to network with each other. They should also get the opportunity to interact with the panelists. Accomplish this by,
- Using polls, breakout rooms, live chats, and games to create the highest level of interaction.
- Share the contact details of key speakers so that the attendees seek a chance to communicate and interact with them.
- Appoint a virtual host or a moderator to engage the virtual audience. They also serve as a bridge of communication between both the audience.
4. Incorporate interactive activities in the hybrid event:
- Speaking to them directly and addressing them by their name.
- Inviting them to respond to questions
- Invite them on the stage to express their thoughts.
- Give a chance for the virtual audience to voice their opinions and present them on the screen.
- Allowing the on-site attendees to speak with the online participants and vice versa.
Use the interactive services offered in the event app and the event platform. Use them to display the poll results in real-time and announce rewards for the winners in real-time. Rewards are the best ways to foster engagement and improve retention rates.
The hybrid event platform plays a crucial role in driving engagement in the hybrid event. Almond Virtex offers an exceptional hybrid event platform with a seamless networking experience for the attendees. It’s high-end streaming capabilities and digital networking suite keep the event running smoothly for virtual and in-person events. The platform keeps the event planners organized starting from registration until the end card is displayed.
What factors should you consider while selecting a virtual event platform?
The virtual event platform is a flexible software solution that helps planners organize, promote, execute and manage their online events. With so many virtual event platforms out there, finding the best match isn’t easy. Here are some factors to consider while choosing the platform to organize stellar events.
1. Ensure the platform has an aesthetic appeal with customizable design options:
The first thing that the attendees, sponsors, and even the speakers notice about the event, is its design. The design of the event platform represents the brand and the message. It should perfectly align with the brand message and should carry customization options. It should reflect the brand identity and adapt its logo, colors, and visual elements. And this should reflect throughout the platform from the registration page to the actual presentation booth. It should offer the same experience for the sponsors, reflecting their image in the virtual exhibitor spaces. It should allow sponsors to customize their booths with their branding message and design elements.
2. Check the list of event presentation tools in the platform:
The event platform should render all tools and plugins to host premium virtual events. From mobile apps to CRM tools and a dedicated customer support team, it should cover every single aspect of the event. Be it conferences, exhibitions, community events, or training programs, the platform should posses scalable tools that are phenomenal to use.
Choose a most trusted virtual event platform that supports both live and pre-recorded sessions, supports live interaction with the audience, engages the audience through surveys and polls, etc. It should posses a virtual networking zone for audience interaction and allow instant video access to communicate. In short, the platform should deliver an absolute digital experience and accommodate reward programs, café, and game zones.
3. Make sure the platform has integrated software for event management:
Online events demand meticulous planning similar to physical events. The secret ingredient for seamless event performance is event management software. It should include,
- Registration feature for attendees
- A built-in email system to send invitations and marketing messages for the audience
- Landing page for the event
- Engagement features and gamification options
- Social media integration for optimal networking and to create event-buzz through real-time content.
- An integrated event management software offers real-time analytics and reports about the event.
- Finally, ample automation options to de-complication manual work.
4. Real-time tech support:
Nothing can hinder a great event experience greater than insufficient technical support. Choose a virtual event agency that offers real-time technical support pre, during, and post-event. This helps in handling,
IT infrastructure relevant issues, such as power cuts, internet, Wifi problem, etc.
Platform-related problems such as login and access issues, black screen, etc.
Round-the-clock support from technical personnel.
It is thus crucial to ensure that the event platform you are working with, is fostered by a highly responsive, helpful, and quick technical team.
5. Ease of use:
This is perhaps one of the most neglected aspects of event management. Choose a platform that makes it easy for the attendees, speakers, and sponsors to log in, take part and experience the thrill of the live event. It should be simple to use and set up. Ensure it has a clean and user-friendly interface so that you don’t waste your time on it’s technical aspects. And it should be compatible on different devices and screens as well.
At Almond Virtex, we offer a highly personalized and customizable virtual event platform that caters to brands from multiple industries. Our events feel realistic and offer real-time audience engagement. The platform is compatible with multiple devices and offers round-the-clock tech support. Want to host the best virtual event, grab the Virtex advantage now.