Due to the coronavirus pandemic that started in early 2020, virtual events saw a spike in demand and popularity. Instead of canceling their events, most brands opted to go the virtual route instead.
It was becoming common for brands and organizers to host hybrid events over the last few years due to the growing importance of having a digital presence. Hosting an utterly virtual event seemed just like an extension of that, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many unique challenges are involved in hosting hybrid and virtual events, and brands need to rethink their strategy to adapt to them.
A lot of brands are already getting things right in the virtual space, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at them to understand what we can learn from them.
Salesforce’s annual World Tour Sydney event is one of the most important events for the company in the Asia Pacific. The Salesforce World Tour Sydney 2020 was scheduled to be held earlier this year, but due to the logistical problems created by the coronavirus pandemic, Salesforce had to transform the event into a virtual one.
On 4th March 2020, the event was hosted live online and was received exceptionally well by the attendees. Approximately 80,000 people viewed the live stream of the event, and the online event generated around 1.2 million video views on Salesforce’s social media channels.
However, the event was more than just a live stream. There were many sessions where the attendees got the opportunity to participate in the virtual event actively.
For example, in some interactive sessions, attendees were given the opportunity to present their apps to the entire audience for three minutes each. At the end of the session, the audience was asked to vote to determine the best app presented.
One of the key learnings from Salesforce’s experiment with virtual events is that engagement is still one of the most important metrics of a virtual event’s success.
This is why it is essential to use the right virtual events platform for your events that support engagement features.
Zoom became the primary video conferencing tool for businesses around the world as lockdowns and stay at home orders were enacted. Additionally, Zoom is also one of the few brands that got virtual events right in their own way as they hosted Zoomtopia, a charity event held online to raise money for WHO’s COVID-19 Response Fund and the International Medical Corps.
The virtual event followed all the norms of a typical charity event – a guest list was created, a graceful invitation was sent to all the guests, entertainment was booked, and there was a host committee that managed the entire thing.
Zoomtopia is a great example of using the flexibility of virtual events. It is possible to host any kind of event in the virtual space today and brands should take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with different types of events.
Speaking of unique virtual experiences and hybrid events, Quintessa’s Virtual Estate Experience deserves mention. The concept for the virtual event was to bring the experience of wine-tasting in the Quintessa Estate vineyard located in Napa Valley to attendees of the virtual event.
The guests were sent testing quantities of different wines prior to the event. The event was then held online where the attendees were given an online professional wine tasting experience that was in line with social distancing norms and other COVID-19 restrictions.
Even though the event couldn’t match the real-life experience of actually wine-tasting in California, most of the attendees had good reviews of the event with many appreciating the creativity involved in hosting the event.
The Sports Betting Community, or SBC, is one of the leading media companies in the sports and betting industry. Earlier this year, SBC hosted a virtual event called the SBC Digital Summit that brought together 140 leaders of the industry together for a groundbreaking online event.
What was truly special about the event was that it offered an experience that truly simulated the experience of a real event. The virtual events platform used by SBC for the event allowed them to create an experience that included dedicated virtual rooms, a virtual lobby area, a conference area, dedicated virtual booths, and more.
Attendees were also able to interact & network with other visitors and the speakers using features like live chat, polls, and Q/A.
The event lasted for multiple days, and all the content from the event remains available to be viewed on-demand. Hosted in the early part of the year, the SBC Digital Summit event showed that it was possible to recreate the experience of attending an event online.
In August 2020, Cvent hosted their annual event online. The Cvent CONNECT virtual event had more than 42,000 registrations. The unique thing about the virtual event was the fact that it was hosted using Cvent’s own virtual events platform, the “Virtual Attendee Hub”.
The virtual event was a massive success and actually ended up breaking the record for the largest gathering of event and hospitality professionals. Additionally, it was not only successful as a virtual event but also proved to be a demonstration of the features and capabilities of the brand’s recently launched product.
Tomorrowland is one of the largest music festivals in the world, and they were also forced to go virtual in 2020. Instead of looking at it as a challenge, Tomorrowland decided to over-deliver when it comes to their virtual experience.
In order to create their own “virtual universe”, Tomorrowland partnered up with a creative agency called Dogstudio. The objective of the live event was to provide an experience to the attendees that was larger than life.
The virtual events platform used by Tomorrowland pushed the limits of what’s possible when it comes to web-based applications. Attendees were not only enthralled by amazing visuals and a premium line-up of acts like Katy Perry, David Guetta, and Steve Aoki, but also the ability to communicate with other festival attendees.
The virtual experience also included webinars, workshops, games, interactive activities, and more to keep the attendees engaged during the event. Overall, the event was a success in providing a premium experience to all attendees of the virtual event.
Virtual is the new normal in 2020 and brands need to adapt
It was pretty uncommon for brands to use a hybrid event platform in the last few years, but it was a trend that was rising. In 2020, virtual is the new normal, and brands have no option but to adapt or cancel their events.
Fortunately, there are a number of dedicated tools, and it is easy to find a virtual hybrid event platform that can handle all your virtual needs when it comes to events.
However, since there’s no shortage of virtual events out there now, brands face more competition than ever. To create a successful virtual event, brands not only need to think about the platform they are using but also how to use it in creative, innovative, and effective ways to maximize the ROI on their virtual and hybrid events.