Conferences, trade shows, career fairs, and seminars are omnipresent in most companies and large organizations. These events are part of campaigns to either reach a larger audience, attract job seekers, or unveil new products.

However, we’re all aware of the current global scenario, due to which these events are not feasible in a physical capacity.

This is why many industries have turned towards virtual events. While in-person events and conferences are a tried and true method of holding events, taking them to a virtual environment is not as challenging as one might think. Is it the easiest thing in the world? Definitely not. However, once you read up and learn what are virtual events and why people host them, you’ll realize that running one is a good idea for your company.

What are Virtual Events?

virtual event lobby

Let’s start with the basics first, what exactly is a virtual event.

A virtual event provides a platform for audiences, exhibitors, presenters, influencers, and brands to communicate. They can share ideas, discuss different topics and new products, and share the same experience virtually.

The idea is very similar to any other physical event a brand or organization may hold. It’s just that these events take place online.

Now, a virtual event can be as simple or as complicated as one might need it to be. It can be done simply via social media or with a video conferencing tool. However, if you want to go all out with a career fair, trade show, or something similar, then you’ll want to use a virtual event platform.

For example, consider a virtual trade show. A trade show consists of dozens of brands showing up with their products. They present those products via live product demos or presentations. The brands can try to be more interactive and get the audience more involved with their product showcases. This can be done through live chat, Q&A sessions, and even live polls. Trade shows are just an example. There are a lot more different types of virtual events that you can take advantage of. We will take a look at all of those later.

As you are probably aware, attendees and visitors have certain expectations when they attend business, academic, or conference-style events. There needs to be a feeling of involvement and inclusion, and that’s what a good virtual event is all about. It’s not just about generating more revenue, instead, it can be about building a larger and more faithful audience. 

How Does a Virtual Event Work?

Virtual Event Auditorium

Now that you know what are virtual events let’s look at how they work! Different events such as career fairs, conferences, and even open days have different requirements. Your requirements and objectives will change depending on the type of event you are hosting and what audience you are trying to target. However, we can go over some common aspects that occur across different virtual events. 

First off, let’s talk about the most basic level. For that, you need video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or even live streaming services like Twitch or YouTube. Of course, we’ve seen it work. Sometimes simplicity pays off and allows you to focus on your business and products more than the actual event. However, some events need extra tools and services. Let’s look at a few features that set virtual events apart from physical events.

Features Of Virtual Event Platforms

virtual event entrance

As of right now, the virtual events industry is still relatively new. Due to this, new techniques and ways to interact with the audience come up all of the time. With that said, there are a few tried and true features that can be found across any virtual event. Let’s have a quick look at a few of them.

Landing Pages

No matter what the event, whether it be physical or virtual, it is important to have a website set up for it. If you don’t want a whole separate website for the event, use a landing page that acts like a microsite for your event. A landing page is what people will be redirected to when they want to sign-up for an event. People can either directly visit this page, or they can find it through your social media posts.

A landing page informs visitors about the event schedule, what brands and speakers are going to be present, and how they need to get registered. It is important to have an alluring landing page so people get enthusiastic about the event.

On-Demand Content

A major part of what makes virtual events so great happens to be on-demand content. This is something that you get in physical events as well, to a degree. Even then, it is incredibly difficult to record every single moment of a physical event. This is where virtual events tend to be arguably better. Keynotes, presentations, demos, product showcases, and more are easily available to view during and after the event.

Live Broadcasts

Live broadcasts are essential when it comes to virtual events. Sure, you can pre-record everything and then publish it on a website or Youtube channel. However, that approach does not form the same sort of personal connections that a live event does. Broadcasting sessions are a crucial component of hosting any type of virtual event.

A major event will likely have a good number of sessions that will fare better when broadcasted live. Meetings, conferences, trade shows, and other events use broadcasts to create a more interactive experience among attendees. It also makes Q&A sessions, polls, and other engagement features feel more authentic. 

What’s more?

A platform like vFairs allows you to pre-record your sessions and run them with a live Q&A on the day of the event. These are called semi-live sessions and offer greater flexibility to your speakers.

Networking Features

One could argue that the major benefit of physical events is networking. Engagement and socializing between attendees/visitors is what makes going to a physical event worth it at the end of the day. Attendees can meet people of similar interests, form professional or personal relationships, and discuss ideas with like-minded people. A good virtual event will try to incorporate this element to some extent.

Popular networking features include live-chat, one-on-one audio and video meetings, virtual coffee rooms, and even games. All of these can be done via a strong virtual platform. Of course, the importance of this aspect is quite high if you are hosting a trade show or conference. That is where most networking opportunities represent themselves. 

Customization

This one should be quite self-explanatory. A good virtual event platform allows you to customize your event to your liking. As we’re all aware, brand image and representations mean just as much as the actual products these days, if not more. This is why having a white-label type of solution will come in handy. A good virtual event platform will allow you to use your own branding. It will allow you to incorporate custom branding in all aspects. This applies to the landing page, event lobby, auditorium, exhibition booths, and more. 

Customization also comes into play when monetization is involved. When you have sponsors at a show or event, visibility is important to them. An event platform should allow sponsors to customize booths and banners to get the attraction of attendees. 

Another aspect of customization is social media integration. The impact of social media is massive, and it applies to any industry. Make sure the platform allows you to incorporate social media channels when it comes to the marketing and promotion of the event itself. 

What Are the Types of Virtual Events?

virtual event exhibition booth

Hopefully, by now you are aware of what are virtual events and what features you should be looking out for when trying to put together your own event. As we mentioned before, the objectives and requirements for an event tend to change based on what the event actually is. To make this point clearer, let’s have a brief look at the different examples of virtual events in different industries. 

Virtual Conferences and Summits

Over the past decade, conferences and summits have escalated in both demand and popularity due to their incredible results. Virtual conferences and summits follow the same principles. The point of a conference or summit is to bring together industry peers and experts. These people then bring new ideas to the table and hold discussions, and the general audience is also involved. 

Virtual conferences and summits are getting more popular among event organizers. This is because powerful engagement tools and cost-effective solutions have allowed them to improve on their metrics. 

Virtual Trade Shows

Any marketing expert will agree that trade shows and fairs are excellent for both branding and reaching a wider audience. This is why trade shows and fairs tend to be the focal point of many marketing campaigns. Trade shows tend to be quite an exclusive fair. A lot of brands and companies in the industry come together to talk about their newest products, or to just connect with their audience.

Virtual trade shows work in the same way. You can invite companies and industry experts, set up exhibition booths, host keynote sessions, showcase products/services, and connect with your audience. 

Virtual Education Events

Virtual events are quite useful when it comes to connecting schools and colleges with their students. This can be done through different events such as a virtual education fair, virtual open day, and even through virtual housing fairs. All of these events are crucial for institutions trying to create awareness and attract more prospective students to their schools.

Showcasing your facilities and expertise is a key component when trying to attract students to schools and colleges. In 2021, a lot of this can be done through virtual events. Virtual open days allow students to get a grasp on the reality of college life, housing fairs help students find accommodation, and education fairs allow the institutions to present lectures and demonstrations to an open audience. 

Virtual Recruiting Events

Job Fairs and Career Fairs have often been a great way to draw in talented individuals to an organization. A job fair allows recruiters to post job boards, collect resumes, and connect with candidates for their organization. This sort of platform is vital for growing the in-house talent of any brand. Career fairs serve the same purpose as they allow candidates to survey different organizations and even figure out what line of work is right for them. 

Both of these styles of events, and any other recruitment events, can be easily integrated into an online virtual platform. Events such as these include webinars, branded booths, virtual job boards, registration platforms, and post-event analytics. 

Benefits of Virtual Events

virtual networking lounge

As you can imagine by now, virtual events bring a lot of advantages and opportunities to most industries. It depends on what your requirements are, and how well you manage to execute an event. So, when done properly, there are a few common benefits that any virtual event can bring to the table. We’ll just quickly go over a couple of these. 

  • Better analytics: Generally, it is hard to keep track of all the activities that an attendee is participating in within an event. Fortunately, a lot of virtual event platforms can help you track how many times one attendee visits a booth, or how many sessions they attend. This helps you judge overall engagement and attendee interest. 
  • Greater reach: No matter what the event may be, reaching a larger audience is almost always helpful. While physical events do well in this regard, you end up restricting some people because of travel costs, schedule clashes, travel restrictions, etc. It is also more difficult for disabled people to attend physical events. Hosting a virtual event allows people based anywhere in the world to easily attend your event from the comfort of their own homes. 
  • Cost savings: Saving on resources and overall costs is guaranteed when it comes to virtual events. You won’t need to worry about show-floor staff, venue rent, equipment costs, catering costs, and more. Sure, virtual events do have other costs, such as the platform fee itself and a few software services that you may have to purchase. But in most cases, virtual events are more economical than physical events.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it’s clear that a lot of organizations and companies are passionate about virtual events. This is because a lot of marketing teams realize that it is important to adapt to the ever-changing climate of the world and act accordingly. A lot of smaller companies are still figuring out virtual events, but ultimately, it will be beneficial for most of us.

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