The Do’s and Don’ts of Hosting a Successful Virtual Event

July 11, 2017

As consumers and attendees increasingly rely on smartphones and digital tools, marketers look to bridge the online and physical worlds to maximize engagement and create unique moments. Virtual and hybrid events offer the perfect solution by combining the best of brand experience with the digital engagement people crave. According to Market Research Media, virtual events will grow from $14 billion in 2018 to $18 billion in 2023, with a steady increase of five percent annually. Beyond effective marketing, going virtual is an excellent way to further monetize an event and efficiently reach a global audience. 

So it’s time to embrace virtual events, as they will stay hot. However, executing a successful virtual or hybrid event is much more than turning on a camera or downloading a live streaming mobile app. By following these actionable dos and don’ts, you’ll be on your way to providing your audience an extraordinary experience.

DO get the right partner

Virtual events range from strictly online experiences, such as a live streamed presenter, to more hybrid events, which merge the energy of an onsite audience with the engagement of remote participants. At the same time, not all providers of virtual events are built the same. It’s important to find a partner who can deliver your brand’s goals and vision. Do you require distribution technology that can store and broadcast content to audiences both locally and globally? Would you benefit from an e-commerce space for your content? Do you need video conferencing functionality or does your content need to integrate with social media? As with any cutting-edge solution, the more questions you ask the clearer your production vision will become.  

DON’T forget about the story

Using the right tool is important, but you should not forget that technology is simply the medium used to create a larger narrative. Bill Gates famously said, “content is king,” and that is still relevant in a competitive landscape with more skeptical crowds. But sitting in an adjacent throne, context is now queen. Whether you’re streaming a single event or producing a webinar with many presenters, there should be a beginning, middle and end to a very personal story that resonates with each unique participant.

DO get your audience to participate

The days of passive audiences are over – audiences are more likely to engage with brands and organizations when it’s a two-way conversation. Therefore, it’s crucial to allow for audience involvement in the form of online Q&A, polls or even quizzes. Consider tapping into a second screen solution to accompany the virtual or hybrid event. Try interviewing an attendee and letting them be the star during a streamed session or get a large group involved in a dynamic chat room. What matters is letting presenters and audiences have the most intimate relationship possible. 

DON’T use the wrong tech for the wrong crowd

These are exciting times, bringing forth a constellation of brilliant and accessible digital technology options. But what’s good for the Millennial goose is not always good for the Gen X gander. In other words, know what types of digital media and event technology resonate with your audience. For example, younger participants might prefer a “light-weight” virtual event optimized for mobile devices, requiring minimal login processes. More mature audiences might prefer a more secure login with richer content and higher-production-value – since they traditionally have more disposable income and in turn may be more inclined to transact through a paywall.   

DON’T make it a one-time event

Repurposing content is the smart way to keep an event going long after it’s over, whether that’s in person or online. Ask yourself how can you continue to leverage the content in different digital channels. Some examples include producing bite-size videos for YouTube, recap blog posts, sharable slides and audio content for iTunes or other podcast outlets. Of course, providing sessions or speaker content behind paywalls can greatly help manage costs and audiences seldom have a problem paying for what is relevant and valuable. What’s important is that your virtual event is part of your year-round marketing strategy – 365, 24/7.

DO get sponsors involved

Audiences come first, but sponsors are the backbone of events, including virtual events. Sponsors can easily be woven into webinars, videos or other platforms in nonintrusive ways. Due to the fluidity of online events, package levels can be developed that come with different commitments and price points. A blend of large sponsorship packages and customized items will help you reach a wide selection of potential sponsors.

DON’T forget about metrics

Digital tech is second to none when it comes to capturing specific lead information and audience data. Most of all, it will help your brand’s ROI and optimize KPIs. Some software packages and providers even offer built-in dashboards or support that can break down your audience and event performance, and make the story easier to tell.

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.