5 Strategies for Making Your Virtual Conference as Valuable as a Face-to-Face Event

April 1, 2020

Larry Dorie

Larry Dorie is the CEO and Co-Founder of RHUB Communications. He is an experienced general manager with a strong track record in growing businesses and developing high-performance teams. Prior to RHUB, Dorie was founder and CEO of two previous start-ups, eB2X and Semantic Sciences.

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the nation, disrupting work and home life on an unprecedented scale. Among the dramatic changes has been the cancellation of nearly all types of events and business conferences that were scheduled to take place over the next several months. 

While it may be hard to imagine creative ways to still get your conference insights to the marketplace, it can be done. Moreover, if done the right way, you can make a lasting impression for attendees; presenters can share their expertise; and even vendors can reach their target audience – all in a manner that protects everyone’s safety and well-being.  

Smaller conferences can easily shift their event to a simple Zoom video conference, but larger events should consider virtual conference solutions that can host up to 3,000 attendees simultaneously. Furthermore, organizers should take into consideration some of these other key elements as they prepare to host successful virtual events. 

Demonstrate Value And Package Pricing

People and companies will still pay for what they see as being valuable to their professions and their careers. So even though your event may now be virtual, it’s important to create rates that are fair and competitive for an online event. If you are offering major top-tier keynote speakers on your virtual event, you may be able to charge a little more for admission, especially if the speaker is sharing some game-changing insights for your industry. Furthermore, for any virtual vendors you want to feature during your online event, create virtual booth space fees that allow them to showcase their products and service as part of your event or on your website. 

Create Engaging Content

People don’t come to conferences to hear information they already know. Conference designers should work with presenters to create exciting and engaging content that will help participants gain value from being part of it. Webinar technologies can also enable you to add visual content or other relevant data that is pertinent to the topic being discussed. The technology is there to allow you to deliver a stellar experience that keeps attendees coming back for more information.

Explore New Mediums

The goal of a virtual conference is to deliver the same type of experience that an attendee would get if they were physically present. When shifting to a virtual format, this means the experience must be immersive. It must include interactions and ways to ask questions of the presenters. Fortunately, technology exists to enable all of the elements necessary to transport the attendee to the world of your conference digitally. Conference organizers can implement video calls, messaging, podcasts, appealing graphics and live chat functionality to deliver an immersive experience.

Create Avenues for Vendors

Another critical element of a conference is the access it provides to a wide variety of vendors and new technologies. Participants can chat with them, get answers about questions they may have and learn about new functionalities. Vendors also help the event’s organizers generate the funds they need to host the conference, which is no small task. Vendors can play as big of a role in a virtual conference as an in-person one. Conference organizers can request vendors create short videos of their products and services that can be displayed for a fee before or after the presentations. They can also add graphics with vendor contact information to some of the conference’s material. 

Leverage Marketing and PR Tactics To Promote Your Event

According to industry experts, there are a few critical things you can do to market your virtual event. First, scrub your database and then send out e-marketing flyers or newsletters to your contacts expressing the benefits of your new virtual conference format. Be sure to express your heart-felt concern for their wellness and safety, but also promote any wow factors with speakers, industry lessons that will be learned, and spotlights on key vendors that will be present. Furthermore, be sure to create a news release and send it out over the wire. By doing so, you will gain tremendous SEO value that could drive new audiences to your event for years to come.

Next, use social media and even the social media channels of your key stakeholders and partners to help promote your virtual events. Use engaging teaser videos to drive excitement and impactful photos showcasing some of the highlights of the event. And, remember to include links in your promotions to helpful resources and community organizations helping families through COVID, as people still need to hear a caring voice and they love to support events and brands that remember to help others. 


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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact