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.
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.
However, you can enhance your virtual event with a solution like augmented reality, which would allow your guests to explore a virtual event space using nothing but their tablet or smartphone.
For example, NexTechAR’s InfernoAR 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 favour 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.
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
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:
- Breakout sessions
- Keynote speakers
- Networking opportunities
- 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 Special 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.
To learn more about hosting a virtual event using augmented reality, contact NexTech AR today.