handling virtual attendance with an event planning certification

Event Planning Tips, Planning Tips

How to Handle Virtual Attendance with an Event Planning Certification

Virtual events have come a long way. In the early 2000s, virtual events were gimmicky. Now, virtual events are widespread. Phenomena such as having a global audience tune into Twitch.tv to play Pokémon together or watch Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting is commonplace.

The fact is, events aren’t just physical anymore. And they shouldn’t be! With your event planning certification, you can focus on planning live events. But with the virtual world having a big come up, you’ll need to broaden your skillset. Want to find out how to handle virtual attendance for your next event? Keep reading!

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event is one that happens online. Users don’t have to leave their homes to attend! Wherever they are, they can watch the events unfold and chat with other viewers and virtual programming hosts about the events. It’s not as interpersonal as attending a live event, but it certainly is more convenient.

Some virtual events are 100% online with no live component—especially those that incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology! You’d be surprised at the types of virtual-only events that have made waves in recent years. Ever heard of VR comedy shows? Yep, they exist!

People virtually attending an event using VR equipment

Meanwhile, other virtual events are extensions of physical events—more accurately named hybrid events. These events are gaining traction in the event world. Everyone knows that nothing can replace the face-to-face interaction of a live event. But having a virtual component allows access to those who can’t participate in the live option.

Why it’s popular

Physical, financial, and scheduling reasons make virtual attendance more popular than ever. Take the busy executive who has a million meetings or events to attend. A virtual summit would be a better use of his or her time! And companies who can only afford to send one or two people to a conference don’t have to worry about losing out on training other employees. It’s also a great option for those with physical disabilities.

For large events, attendees from all over the world can now tune in. Clients who want to increase collaboration from diverse backgrounds have this option. If the event is well thought out, virtual attendees who RSVP for an event one year are more motivated to attend the physical event next year. It also allows your client to increase the number of potential attendees without having to spring for a larger venue or spend more on catering.

Paid or free attendance?

Here’s the thing: setting up a virtual event takes money! If it’s going to cost your client money, you bet they want to ensure it’s worth it! Clients have a choice of choosing to sell tickets for virtual events at a fraction of the cost of the live event or offer it for free. There are pros and cons for monetizing the virtual event when it comes down to attendance and quality of investment.

Paid attendance:

The biggest pro for selling tickets is that it’s another revenue stream. In your professional courses, you’ll learn how to set an attractive price for a ticket that justifies the expenses while drawing in revenue. Another plus is that it attracts the highest quality of attendees. Why would someone who isn’t a hundred percent committed to purchase a ticket? This may mean upping the production value and having a larger focus on catering to the needs of virtual attendees.

However, some events, such as live sports events, people won’t always pay to stream. If they feel like they could watch the event somewhere else for free, and it isn’t too big of a hassle, they may take it.

You don't have to pay if you want to stream an event. But sometimes you may if it's a top industry event

Free attendance:

Due to the convenience of attending the event from home, you’ll attract people who wouldn’t otherwise have participated. It’s also a great way to introduce awareness and drive interest in an event. If the event is available for free, why not check it out? Those who don’t have a stake in the event may not want to pay top dollar for a ticket. And people love to sample before they buy! If an event is free to attend virtually, those who are curious can casually attend. If they like what they see, they may become ticket holders in the next event.

Figuring out the logistics

How do you keep people from leaving halfway through the event? Engaging a virtual audience is a little different than live audiences who pay to attend an event. When you’re at an event, you’re essentially tethered to the venue. If you’re already there, why not make a circuit around all the booths? But a virtual attendee can tune out at any time. You have to ensure that they want to stay glued to your stream.

High-quality imaging and sound make the biggest difference. Since high-quality streams are the standard now, when your event rings in subpar, attendees will have little patience.  Do not go for the cheapest option—the entire virtual event experience depends on this! This also applies to the internet connection. Having a steady, dedicated connection means paying more to the venue, but it’s well worth it. Other personnel and equipment include operators, cameras, microphones, and lights.

In terms of personnel, you can’t forget tech support or a moderator. The moderator ensures that the virtual event chat is kosher. They’ll also be the first to take notice of any problems. Diagnosing issues and swiftly working to resolve them provides your clients with amazing service in retaining their audience.

Making the most of it

Recording a live event to stream for virtual attendees

When creating a seamless experience, you’ll want to select a platform that makes sense with your event. Different platforms have different features, sponsors, and reputations that need to make sense for your specific event. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a specific platform to host an event rather than just using Facebook’s free option.

Some ideas to increase participation instead of passive viewing is to promote hashtags on social media. Other event companies even host a “halftime” show for virtual attendees. They’ll conduct Q&As live using questions asked in the stream’s chat.

After the event, your clients may want to edit the video content and sell it for rebroadcasting. It could also be uploaded in a series of “Top 10 moments” clips to recap the event and promote the next one.  It’s also an opportunity to further incorporate any advertisers and sponsors with these clips. Their investment in your clients’ event will be well worth their money.

Got any other tips for your fellow event planners? Let us know!

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