Are you wondering what a virtual summit looks like or actually planning to host one? Not sure where to start? Trying to get hold of a one-stop guide to help you plan your virtual conference from ideation to implementation? Voila, you are at the right place!So let’s start from scratch – What is a Virtual Conference? As an organizer, this is the first question that strikes us when considering the idea of garnishing our formal meetings using technology. A virtual conference is an event that is conducted online and where partakers with similar concerns attend remotely, usually from the convenience of their homes, cars, or peak of a mountain – all they require is a good internet connection and a device!Role of Virtual Conferences in Global Recessions and the PandemicVirtual conferences have been a lifesaver for countless organizations during global crises, like the recession in the late 2000s. It not only brought economic but environmental advantages as well.The idea of virtual conferences gained much more popularity during the ongoing pandemic where businesses began to actively shift towards online platforms, enabling social distancing among various other benefits. Long gone are the days when organizations would worry about connecting people from across the borders and so, in today’s world, it is exceptionally important for both parties (organizers and attendees) to learn how a virtual conference works. Here Are Some Benefits That Come Handy With A Virtual ConferenceThese conferences work just like any other meeting, offering a lot more convenience, as they can be attended remotely from any part of the world. In addition, event hosts can make the most out of the following advantages of a virtual conference:Engage attendees more effectively with 1:1 live and group chatsAttentive and centered audience with audio/video integrationsMeasure ROIs that helps us shape our next strategyInteraction with new people from all over the worldNetworking with other experts in the same field Relatively quicker and easier to set upAttract more sponsorsEliminate travel and setup costs; otherwise incurred in a physical eventSave the environment by avoiding plastic and fabrication wasteImprove brand presence online and achieve better rankingsHow Can You Plan and Host a Virtual ConferenceStep 1: Define the conference goals and select the target audienceThe first point in formulating a virtual conference is when you decide on the objectives that need to be achieved through a conference. Once you have determined your goals, you start working on the strategy based on the desired outcomes. The first step in developing your strategy is to select a target audience suitable for your virtual conference. Make sure, all of this is aligned with your goals and objectives.Step 2: Plan your virtual conference in advanceMost of the time when you want to host a conference, you usually have a theme decided for it. If not, this is where you start your planning! List down the questions you expect your guest speakers to ask you regarding your theme and prepare for their answers. Generally these questions revolve around the following: Why is the theme important to discuss and how will it benefit the audience?When do you wish to hold your conference?For how long will the conference last?How many guest speakers are expected to be participating in the conference?Being prepared to answer such questions in advance is imperative in terms of pitching the virtual event to guest speakers and attendees and to therefore, attracting your target audience.Step 3: Choosing the right platformAfter finalizing your speakers, jot down the ideas and start formulating them into action because that is when you start your search for a service provider. There are a number of platforms offering a platform for online events, with varying degrees of features.It is important to do your homework before deciding between your potential service providers. Some of the standards questions that can be asked for comparison:The engagement features it offersScale of design and configurations it allowsExtent of different languages it supportsCompatibility with CRM toolsWhich accessibility features are availableScope of customer support as per your time zoneWith vFairs, you don’t have to worry about the plugins or any additional extensions. It is also compatible with CRM platforms that will make your virtual conference experience a breeze. Click here to see a list of questions that might come handy for your event.Choosing the right platform with CRM integration allows you to: Share content using dynamic layouts and customized designsEnhance your mailing list for future marketing campaignsUpdate attendees on a newly launched product or service relevant to the themeEngage and remind your attendees prior to an eventBuild long term relationships with your prospectsStep 4: Manage expectationsYou need to understand the time frame involved in building a virtual conference. It takes very meticulous effort to bring you the virtual experience needed to make a difference. On average, it takes around 3 months in setting up an online event. Most of the time is spent on content, design, configurations and preparing webinars. Most importantly, it takes time to promote the event through various marketing channels to reach your audience.Step 5: Attract Maximum attendeesWhat majority of organizers struggle while hosting a virtual conference is effectively spreading and circulating the word. For this:Run an Online Contest on Social Media It’s no secret that one of the straightforward paths to get visitors to your site is via social media. It can be one of your vital assets in attracting attendees to your conference, no matter which social media platform you are using for your business.Reach out to Your Current Email List email marketing is helping a number of companies to generate visitors and attendees. Protip: using catchy subject lines and certain keywords can drive your warm leads to action.Create a pre-event hype by offering certain incentives to your audience. For example, you can gamify your virtual conference with leaderboards and theme-based giveaways that will not just improve the quality of your attendees but will also stimulate better engagement.Send reminder emails to everyone who registered for the event.Step 6: Protips for the eventTest all of your equipment and tools prior to the start of your virtual conferenceBegin with an ice-breaking session to make everyone feel comfortableStimulate an interactive environment by using polls and Q&AsAsk closed-ended questions instead of open-ended as it may result in “dead air” Be courteous towards everyoneStep 7: Post Event : Analyze and ReflectNow is the time to sit back and analyze the post-event reports and turn them into your next big strategy. Your entire conference is recorded so you can tune into those webinars again and revamp to build much better conferences in future.ConclusionWhile the concept of running a conference using an online platform might sound like a challenging task, however, almost all the organizers are able to emerge out stronger with hosting a successful virtual conference. Choosing the right virtual event provider along with a concrete objective in mind will surely lead you to achieve exceptional results this year.About vFairsvFairs strives to deliver top-class virtual events for all audiences, with an intuitive platform that recreates physical events through an immersive online experience. With a range of powerful features and dedicated support for users around the world, vFairs removes the hassle from organizing, exhibiting at, and attending events such as conferences, trade shows, and career fairs. Contact the vFairs team to learn more or request a demo to see a virtual event in action. vFairs is a global leader in virtual events, offering best-in-class virtual event solutions for audiences across industries and geographies. With a user-friendly platform that delivers an immersive online experience, a range of powerful features, and an acclaimed team of experts, vFairs provides a value-driven alternative to traditional in-person events. Contact the vFairs team to learn more or request a demo to see a virtual event in action.