Virtual events – a term that can be used to describe anything from a one-off webinar to fully featured online exhibitions, conferences, trade shows and summits – are the new normal. This means that if you want yours to stand out from the crowd, they have to be anythign but normal.
Just a few months ago, many of us may not have ever attended a virtual event or even fully understood what they are. Today, more than 3,500 take place every day and it can often seem that our inboxes are overflowing with invitations.
In fact, the primary reason given when a survey asked people why they did not attend a particular event, was that there were too many other virtual events vying for their attention that day!
I work closely with businesses around the world creating and refining virtual event strategies. By far the most important question I have to help each and every one of them answer is “why should people visit our event when there are so many other options open to them?”
It’s also become clear, in these days of permanent work-from-home, that it isn’t just rival virtual events that make up the competition. It’s persuading people that attending an event is a more worthwhile use of their time than knocking off work 30 minutes early and crashing on the sofa in front of Netflix. Or spending an hour catching up with friends on Instagram.
In the good old days, attending an event might have meant an opportunity to spend a day, or days, out of the office. Today’s virtual events may require far less commitment in terms of time and travel, but with the huge number of distractions in the home environment, you’re going to have to put work in to persuade people to spend their online time with you.
So, what’s the answer? Luckily, it’s pretty simple. You have to give them something truly worthwhile – whether it’s a solution to a business challenge they’re facing, or something that helps them learn something, be entertained, or connect with other people.
To make sure your next event stands out from the crowd, why not try incorporating one of these ideas for a fun extra-curricular session:
Online escape rooms – Tackle mind-bending puzzles and challenges while working together with a group to build teamworking skills while having fun at the same time.
Virtual wine knowledge session – Learn the secrets of a world-class sommelier with an interactive educational session covering wines from around the world.
Comedy caricature session – A professional caricaturist creates comical portraits of your attendees, in real-time in front of the audience.
Draw comics with a pro – Follow along online as a Marvel comics artist takes attendees step-by-step through the process of creating action-packed comic scenes.
Tackle a new cuisine – Expert chefs from around the world demonstrate step-by-step recipes your audience can create at home.
Whatever you choose to do, the key is to make your virtual experience sessions highly interactive and packed with opportunities for audience participation. After all, that’s the difference between an “event” and an on-demand activity such as watching a Youtube video or following an online tutorial. Most things in life are more fun with other people than they are on your own – so a virtual experience leverages the fact that the audience is engaged in a social and collaborative environment.
These principles are the same whether you are organizing an external event for prospects and customers, or an internal soiree for staff teams or your executive board.
And if you really want to make your attendees feel special, then why not go a step further with gifting and giveaways, or deliveries direct to their front doors? One organization we work with arranges pizzas (or the option for healthier alternatives) to be distributed to employee’s homes weekly to coincide with their virtual social sessions. Another arranged for a chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant to cook at their top employee’s home during their annual awards ceremony.
The principle here is that virtual events are moving on. “Zoom fatigue” is a real thing, and rather than simply organizing events because it’s what everyone else is doing, it’s worth putting time and effort into making sure yours are the best around.
At Buzznation we have a catalog of hundreds of shows, games, experiences and activities designed to drive attendance and engagement at virtual events. Rather than “one-size-fits-all” solutions we work with creators and artists that understand the importance of tailoring the experiences they offer to individual events and audiences. This means attendees log off feeling they’ve enjoyed a special experience, with good friends, that they only could have had at one particular time and place – your event.
Contact Buzznation today for a chat about how we can level-up your virtual events to virtual experiences.