Prior to 2020, Solid Solutions was used to hosting about 16 events a year across the United Kingdom. When COVID-19 struck, and strict restrictions were imposed on social gatherings, Solid Solutions was forced to reconsider their plans. In such unprecedented circumstances in their 20 years of experience, hosting roadshows was no longer possible. Looking for alternatives, they decided to move forward with a virtual launch event. What is Solid Solutions? Solid Solutions accounts for almost 80% of all SOLIDWORKS CAD software sales in the UK and Ireland. They provide engineering software solutions to more than 15,000 customers. Their services range from engineering software sales and consultancy, training services and 3D printers. They also have a highly certified SOLIDWORKS support team which provides best-in-class technical support. vFairs: The best fit for Solid Solutions virtual launch event? The team at Solid Solutions heard of vFairs from another company within the engineering software space. They had a look and were instantly impressed with the virtual event platform vFairs offered. For Solid Solutions, what worked best was the ease with which vFairs was able to replicate the actual event environment through immersive 3D designs, lifelike lobbies, and custom avatars. The platform was also easy to use from an attendee perspective. The interface was user-friendly and promised an effortless experience. Bidding adieu to a face-to-face environment, Solid Solutions was convinced that vFairs was the way to go to host the first Solid Solutions virtual launch event. Solid Solution Virtual Launch Event: ObjectivesThe key objectives of Solid Solution virtual launch event were to: attract existing customers, educate customers on the latest version of software,conduct skills development sessions to benefit customers, build product and brand awareness. This event also presented a good opportunity for sponsors such as Dell and NVIDIA to build brand awareness and showcase products to niche markets. Likewise for exhibitors (softwares and services that compliment SOLIDWORKS), it is a great way to pitch softwares and services to a really targeted audience. Undeterred and well prepared, Solid Solutions Virtual Launch Event took place on November 5th, 2020. Solid Solutions designed their virtual event platform with acute attention to detail. They incorporated features that helped them set the right impression with their customers. Let’s explore why their event was a success in greater detail below. Come along! 3D ANIMATED LOBBY Right from the very first step, Solid Solutions wanted to captivate their incoming audience. Therefore, designing an attractive lobby was important for them. With customized avatars roaming around the lobby, it replicated a real-life event lobby. These 3D animated avatars added ‘depth’ and ‘interest’ to the lobby according to Nick Sibly, Group Operations Director at Solid Solutions. They even placed a welcome video, which guided the audience through the entire event. This helps the participants get comfortable with the virtual environment, knowing what to expect from the rest of the event. UNIQUE SPEAKER SESSIONS IN THE AUDITORIUMS Solid Solutions’ virtual launch event had two auditoriums. One was the main auditorium, and the other was a 3DEXPERIENCE auditorium. Sessions in both were semi live, meaning they used pre-recorded videos and hosted a live question and answer session through the chat feature. Along with a keynote speaker, the sessions were mostly educational, serving to explain new additions in the software. Additionally, in the partner sessions, Dell, NVIDIA among other exhibitors explained their services and product benefits to the audience. These sessions were a primary part of the in-person events. Presentations took place in auditoriums followed by product display in an expo hall, which also facilitated interaction between attendees. CREATING MAXIMUM AWARENESS WITH EXHIBIT HALLSThe team at Solid Solutions designed the exhibit halls themselves, divided according to: subject: included booths on manufacturing, 3DExperience, SolidWorks Composer among others; sponsors and exhibitors: included booths of Dell and NVIDIA, DriveWorks and SolidCAM and many more;Solid Solutions: booths were specific to training, customer service and a proprietary solution, SolidQueue. These booths had information specific to each of these subjects, sponsors and exhibitors. There was a clear distinction between all three. INFORMATIONAL MAGAZINE AND RESOURCES Solid Solutions virtual launch event included a feature not very common to a virtual event. This was a magazine. It was a digital replication of their physical ‘swag bag’ that they have at their in-person events, which includes a few giveaways plus a magazine which included detailed information on subjects such as Product Data Management, SolidWorks Electrical & PCB, manufacturing, technical communication, and even sponsors and exhibitors. Customers had the option to download or print the magazine. The virtual platform also hosted resources such as videos and documents. These resources provided additional information and overviews of the sponsors and exhibitors offering greater insights for the customers. The resources could be added to the virtual ‘swag bag’ and downloaded later. OPPORTUNITIES TO NETWORKSolid Solutions virtual launch event platform featured chat rooms for each sponsor and exhibitor. This facilitated customers to engage with the exhibitors and sponsors they wanted additional information from. Live audio, video and text chat options allowed customers to easily engage with them. Solid Solutions’ First Virtual Launch Event: ResultsNick Sibly was happy with the outcome of Solid Solutions’ first venture into the virtual world. He says “[A virtual event] was a very good replacement to in-person events. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall outcome”. He felt it was a good platform to share content and build awareness. Moving forward there is a place for digital events. Solid Solutions really enjoyed the easy user interface. Attendees could effortlessly navigate on their own. Given the circumstances, virtual events increased efficiency for Solid Solutions. They didn’t have to send people across the country in a van with banners and equipment. Moreover, even the sponsors had an improved experience. They were able to extract greater information about the participants and their digital footprints. The virtual event resulted in a 20-30% increase in attendees as compared to a physical event. Over 2000 people attended the Solid Solutions virtual launch event. Apart from this, Solid Solutions called their virtual launch event a success because: they were able to demonstrate the new version of the software to customers,customers developed skill sets and knowledge,there were networking opportunities for customers, as a business they were able to share the wider portfolio to generate sales leads. The vFairs team was great right from the onset. Nick said vFairs was highly responsive, and did a great job with the clock ticking and deadlines approaching. When they started looking for digital solutions they were apprehensive. However, the responsiveness of the vFairs team and flexibility of the platform made them reasonably confident with how the event would turn out.