When states began enforcing social distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many business events and conferences had to be postponed or even canceled to comply with the rules. As a result, virtual events have become a popular alternative to physical events.
In some cases, event planners were able to transition their canceled physical events into virtual events, enabling attendees to still have an experience. Moving forward, many businesses and events companies may even prefer virtual events because of how easy and affordable they are to host, and because of how effective they can be at generating leads.
Virtual events in the numbers. Data shows a strong interest now and for the future:
In 2020, the number of organizations planning a virtual event doubled.
91% of respondents chose “Keeping members connected” as one of their main goals when setting up virtual events.
If you’ve never been to a virtual event, you may be confused about how they work and why they are important. Here, you’ll learn the benefits of hosting a virtual event, as well as how to structure a successful one.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is an organized gathering that enables a group of people to communicate, share ideas, and enjoy a shared experience. The only difference between physical events and virtual events is that virtual events occur online, rather than in-person.
You don’t need any special equipment to host a virtual event. The term “virtual” doesn’t necessarily refer to virtual reality. You could host a virtual event using nothing but video conferencing tools or a social media platform. The main takeaway is that planners don't have to rely on a physical location while still being able to offer plenty of opportunity for connection and engagement for their attendees.
What is the Purpose of a Virtual Event?
Launch/showcase new solutions and products: Of course, sharing information and engaging with people valuable to your industry is what makes a virtual event so enticing. You can be the start of a great conversation by showing off new solutions and products. Nextech not only provides you the platform to host your event, but has augmented reality solutions to help you make a statement in your announcement.
Networking: People attend events to build relationships and connections. They’re looking to have as many meaningful conversations as possible; in fact, research shows 80% of people participate in virtual events for educational purposes. Nextech offers in-platform video solution and chats as starting points for those important connections to be made!
Business: As you’re networking and meeting new people, virtual events provide a great way to look for business opportunities and generate new leads. Close deals as you mingle with leaders in your industry!
What Are the Different Types of Virtual Events?
Online trade shows, exhibitions, career fairs: Reach prospects around the globe! Organizers can set up booths with our platform and chat with those who are interested in what they have to offer.
Virtual events and conventions: Establish your brand while connecting with industry leaders and generating leads. Advertise add-ons like keynote speakers provide maximum value to attendees!
Orientation and training: A lot of resources go into new hires, so virtual onboarding fairs are a great way to boost productivity with interactive webinars and monitor training progress!
Corporate meetings and conventions: Offer skill-based training to your employees or even host something informational about employee benefits!
Awards ceremonies, worship events, auto shows, graduations: Not every virtual event has to be strictly business. Take in-person events loved by the community online. Our tech creates 3D models and AR stages to enhance your virtual events and make it lively as ever.
Interested in hosting a virtual event? Book a demo and see how Nextech can be your complete solution for virtual and hybrid events.
How Do You Make Virtual Events More Engaging?
It’s not a surprise some people may feel hesitant or even a bit skittish attending virtual events, as there’s a common misconception that they can’t possibly be as exciting as a physical event.
However, you can enhance your virtual event with a solution like augmented reality, which would allow your guests to explore a virtual event space rather than simply staring at a screen via Zoom, for example. The best part? It requires nothing more than attendees using their tablet or smartphone.
For example, Nextech AR’s ARitize 3D Events platform allows you to create holograms such as trade booths, terminals, and conference tables which your guests can interact with as they experience your event. You can even conduct virtual product demonstrations as if your guests were standing right in front of you on a conference floor.
Most guests have certain expectations for business events. They want to feel a sense of belonging, and they want to network and make new connections. They also want to have fun, and perhaps even earn rewards and swag for participating. You can accomplish all this online with a virtual event while also showcasing your company’s products and solutions.
The Benefits of Virtual Events Vs. Physical Events
Virtual events don’t only serve as an alternative when physical events are canceled or postponed. In some cases, you may favor virtual events over physical events. There are several reasons for this.
For one, virtual events are much less expensive to host. They can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. You don’t need to rent a physical venue to host the event, nor must you pay for refreshments.
Virtual events are also easier on your guests. Instead of traveling across the country, booking lodging, and dealing with jet lag to attend, your guests can log onto your event from the comfort of their home or office. They won’t need to rush from session to session in your event space, either. Everything they need is right at their fingertips.
Furthermore, you don’t need to limit the number of attendees to your virtual event. There’s space for everyone, and there are no restrictions to attendance because of your event’s location.
We saw this benefit ring true in our partnership with Restaurants Canada who found that they suddenly needed to take their largest food and beverage event, RC Show, online.
They were able to demonstrate the latest product innovations, educational sessions, and culinary events to 250% more attendees per session when compared to their in-person event statistics. Each viewer had a front row seat to the events, leading to an 82% rating of the experience as “good to excellent.”
Restaurants Canada attendance per session from their virtual RC Show
Hosting a virtual event even comes with environmental benefits! Because your guests don’t have to travel, they won’t generate any pollution. You won’t have to worry about garbage or wasting food and materials, either.
Launching a Successful Virtual Event
At the most basic level, the only technology you need to host a virtual event is a video conferencing tool like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, GoToWebinar, or something similar. All these tools are viable options for webinars, product demonstrations, Q&A sessions, and other types of events.
You may also need microphones and a camera if you intend to broadcast yourself live or record presentations. If you’re doing a presentation, you’ll need software to create it so that it’s engaging. For example, a PowerPoint presentation is often a great addition to any webinar, but you can also use video, gamification, or other more engaging solutions.
Any type of virtual event can be enhanced with an Augmented Reality component. Instead of just viewing your event on a computer screen, AR enables your guests to interact and become a part of the experience.
Structuring Your Event
What Do I Need For a Virtual Event?
Here are a few questions companies should cover before diving into acquiring resources for their virtual events:
Is this a stand-alone event? Or does it need to be a series?
How much content are you offering?
The previous will help you decide: How long will it last? Is it an all-day event? A few hours?
Will you have networking opportunities and other activities?
Is it a free event? Will you have sponsors?
What other features will you offer? Nextech offers holograms, Augmented Reality (AR) Rooms, AR showcases, and 3D stages on top of our broadcasting and production capabilities.
If you want to host a larger, more complex, and interactive event, you’ll need to take steps to attract your guests and keep them engaged.
To get attendees, you need to engage in lead generation, just as you would with a physical event. This generally includes the following:
Advertising or marketing your event through various channels
Encouraging your audience to register for the event
Sending invitations to known contacts
Send reminders and follow-ups with on-demand content
The event itself will need to be structured to maintain your guest’s interest. Because they won’t be occupying a physical space, it will be up to you to facilitate the environment, encourage networking, and keep guests engaged.
The best way to accomplish this is by following standard formats for physical events. Most events include the following:
Opportunities for interactions
Much of these components can be enhanced with AR. Networking with other attendees is much more fulfilling if you can do so in a virtual space. By prerecording presentations, you can allow your guests to interact with them in their own time through augmented reality instead of making them sit through a long video presentation.
Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out with Augmented Reality
Your guests don’t need any special equipment to enjoy an amazing, AR-enhanced event, and all you need is the right AR solution.
We at Nextech believe virtual events aren’t simply a replacement for in-person events – they're an enhancement and completely new experience. Our technology creates metaverse-like experiences with on-demand human holograms, 3D stages filled with app-free 3D/AR assets, 3D booths, and more. It can be as simple as adding an eye-catching AR experience to a physical show or putting the power in attendees’ hands by enabling them to trigger AR experiences as they walk around.
Check out our latest AR features to make your virtual event more engaging:
To learn more about hosting a virtual event using augmented reality, contact Nextech AR today!