Are you an experienced event planner trying to get comfortable with hosting virtual events? You’ve probably noticed that on the surface, physical and virtual events seem a lot like each other. One is in-person, the other is not.
However, you’d probably be interested to know that physical and virtual events are two dramatically different concepts. If you approach a virtual event the same way you would a physical event, then you’re making a potentially fatal mistake. Let’s unravel the differences together.
When you’re hosting an in-person event, you get most, if not all, of your revenue through ticket sales. While this is normalized for physical in-person events, the same can not be said for virtual events.
After all, physical events have plenty of things that make a price tag for entry be justified. We’re talking accommodation, food, drink, swag, and much more. Are you going to be offering these things for a virtual event? Probably not.
Does this mean you can’t charge money for a virtual event? No, of course not. A virtual event is an event, and events cost money. You just have to understand that you can’t charge the same amount of money for a virtual event like you would for a physical one.
Does this mean you’ll lose money? Not really. Remember, a virtual event has a much larger reach than a physical one. You don’t have any borders! That means you are bound to attract a larger audience, and that will offset the lower ticket prices.
Making a schedule for a physical event is pretty easy and straightforward. You have a time where it launched, times for activities during the event, and then eventually it ends. Simple!
A virtual event or a hybrid event is not quite as straightforward, and you can’t schedule it the same way as a physical event. There are a few factors you need to be aware of.
For example, seeing as a virtual event will attract people from all over the world, that means some people will be tuning in during the morning and others during the night. Therefore, you have to figure out what time fits a majority of your audience the best.
And then, how long should the event last? Normally, a physical event is handled in one piece. Rarely do you split them up. You go there, you stay til it’s done, you go home. With online events, that doesn’t work quite so well.
Could you imagine sitting down straight for 7 hours, not being able to do anything other than that? It’s not a good time.
When scheduling for an online conference, you have to make sure it doesn’t become monotonous. A virtual environment can quickly become boring when you spend most of your time in front of a screen.
Consider splitting your event up over multiple days in small, digestible portions. That way, you will keep your attendees engaged and comfortable.
Have you ever considered how easy it is to grab the attention of people when you are close to and up personal with them? It doesn’t take much. Body movements, body language, the buzz of the environment - it all works wonders.
In a virtual environment, it becomes a little bit trickier. It’s just so easy to get distracted when you are attending virtual meetings. Social media, phone apps, television - even the most focussed person will get distracted for a few minutes in this environment.
That’s why you have to get a bit creative. Consider using polls, surveys, and chats to promote real-time discussions and conversations. You have to stimulate the people out on the other end of the screen.
For that reason, you might also want to get a hold of a moderator that can bridge the gap between speaker and attendee. The more you stimulate the people attending, the bigger the success of your event will be.
Sponsors are often alpha-omega for any event - they bring money to the table, making sure you can spread the message you want. Sponsorship is the path to powerful marketing. But, you have to keep them happy.
In a physical event, that’s easy. You can do face-to-face product demonstrations, throw giveaways and much more. In that sense, it is easy to make sure your sponsors get the attention they want. Online, that’s a different story.
You need to go a little bit further to draw attention to your sponsors in a virtual environment. Send push notifications to the attendees, shout-out your sponsors, give your attendees networking opportunities with the sponsors and so on.
Make sure that they are always apparent in one form or the other without overdoing it.
Measuring the success of an event is done through many different factors. But, the metrics you use to measure success are very different between physical and virtual events.
While you might see a physical event as successful based on the amount of people showing up, the same can’t be said for virtual events. Here, you would, for example, measure 1:1 interactions in chats or other social arenas.
And it is very important to gather specific data. Who did what, where and when. This is what you will also have to use to improve your event for its next installment.
The difference between physical and virtual events is the same as with biscuits and cookies. It’s not immediately apparent, but upon closer inspection the differences are dramatic.
Handling a virtual event like a physical event will not give any satisfactory results. We’ve covered some of the most important steps here in this guide, but there are plenty more. Hopefully, you will be able to use this to get into the mindset of a virtual event planner. If you need additional help, you can contact us at ifairs at any time. Good luck!
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