virtual event solutions
Virtual events have gained a major role due to the pandemic. However, their story has not started these days, and they very much seem to remain long-lived even after the virus.
‘Convention View’ was the first ‘virtual tradeshow’ presented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in April 1993.
With the increase of Smartphones the market of conference applications has evolved at rocket speed, generating lots of multi-platform events.
Interest in virtual events has increased by 2400% in April 2020 alone due to COVID-19.
No doubt, virtual events are unable to deliver the full live event experience, however their role and significance cannot be neglected. Some of their features perform similar to live events, therefore they will certainly remain viable even after the pandemic.
According to a survey, 68% of event industry respondents believe that virtual events will take over a significant share of the MICE market.
In the chapter ‘DETERMINING THE APPROPRIATE EVENT FORMAT’ we point out that in many cases a virtual event may be the only solution due to either regulations or health safety reasons, which is why it is worth considering them as a brand new business opportunity.
It is important to emphasize that virtual or digital event solutions work most effectively as supplements to live events.
Benefits of hosting a virtual event:
New sponsorship opportunities
Flexible and variable,
even last minute
Perfect for collecting feedbacks
From a participant‘s perspective the requirements for virtual events do not differ much from live events, the main goals still are:
On the other hand, we face different types of challenges compared to live events. Firstly, when participants are engaged with devices like smartphones, laptops or tablets, countless online and offline activities can divert their attention, and they can concentrate considerably less. Another challenge comes from the fact that most participants join sessions at home, where surrounding impulses divide their focus even more.
Virtual events are most effective when guests are encouraged to actively participate in presentations with accurately composed content. Therefore, in our research we examined how to improve virtual events in terms of content and interactivity. However, before going into details, let’s review the basic elements of virtual events and how they can be developed for the purposes mentioned above.
Live events usually have a designated website (EVENT WEBSITE) to share information and allow registration for attendees. In case of virtual events the so-called EVENT PLATFORM is the actual web interface where the event takes place. Attendees can be redirected from the event website to the event platform to perform specific participation related tasks: create their profile; check speakers and other attendees; review agenda and watch the actual LIVE PRESENTATION or the RECORDED CONTENT.
During the presentations we can
● ask questions (QUESTION AND ANSWER)
● vote on certain topics (LIVE POLLING),
● take personal notes (NOTE TAKING),
● virtually visit exhibitor or sponsor ‘stands’ (EXHIBITORS),
● chat or video-chat with other participants (NETWORKING).
In many cases the interface also allows direct postings to various social media platforms (SOCIAL SHARING) or instant feedback about the event itself (FEEDBACK SURVEYS).
The range of available event platforms is very wide. An Event Manager Blog study (The Virtual Event Tech Guide) compares 94 international applications, on top of that often a designated event platform is also developed for each event.
Most event platforms offer above features, however organizers of virtual events can do a lot more themselves to increase interactivity and content benefits.
Main tool categories that can enhance the virtual event experience:
Content enhancement tools
Ideas and solutions to create a more engaging and attractive event content
VISUAL ENHANCEMENT TOOLS
Tools and services that make the visual world of the virtual event more spectacular
Interactive tools and solutions that help actively involve participants
TECHNOLOGICAL ENHANCEMENT TOOLS
Technological innovations and developments making the whole virtual event more exciting and colorful
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