Virtual events bring people together for a common purpose. From networking events to conferences, promotion and marketing are essential for organizing a successful virtual event. Successfully promoting an event will maximize attendance and attract engaged attendees.
Invest in promotional materials
Promotional materials will serve as the foundation of your event promotion strategy. Promotional materials give you something concrete to point to in your social media posts and communications. Here are some examples of promotional materials for your virtual event:
Target your social media campaign
Social media marketing is the bread and butter of virtual event promotion in the modern age. Customize your social media campaign for your event.
Email marketing is an effective tool to reach event attendees. Email marketing is especially effective in professional networks or any forum with an established email network. If you’re organizing a series of events, get the email addresses of people who enjoyed an event and are interested in future events.
Less is more with email marketing campaigns. If you inundate inboxes with too many emails, recipients are likely to hit unsubscribe. Ensure that each new email offers additional information, announcements, or updates. Offering discount codes over email is a great way to bolster engagement with your event and audience.
Highlight what makes your event special
Regardless of your marketing strategy, highlight what makes your event special. If you expect attendees to spend their time at your event, you need to offer something in return.
The last few years have ushered in a new era of virtual events. Virtual event technology has improved dramatically in response to higher-than-ever demand. Here’s what you can expect from virtual events in 2022.
The basic components of a virtual event in 2022 remain largely the same. Registration for the event typically occurs through a third-party web service. Participants should expect to receive additional event details after registration, including a link to the event platform and an agenda or schedule. The event itself will still typically include a series of talks or presentations, a keynote speaker, and networking.
Technology has improved
Gone are the days when technical difficulties were accepted as par for the course. Now that most businesses have years of experience hosting virtual meetings or events, participants have higher expectations. Many large virtual events have devoted IT professionals working the event to quickly field technical issues.
There are also more tools and platforms available to improve the virtual event experience. In the past, virtual events were one-sided, with participants watching a video or live stream. Today, participants can interact through live Q&A, live polls, or break-out rooms.
Networking has changed
Networking events are no longer relegated to in person happy hours or meetups. Many virtual events encourage networking and use creative methods to facilitate networking. Virtual event apps can be used to allow event attendees to connect based on mutual interests or to discuss a facet of the event.
One benefit of networking at a virtual event is that participants typically have more visibility into the name and job position of the person they are interacting with. This information is typically visible in a virtual event app. This allows attendees to seek out others that share professional interests.
Virtual events have a larger reach
Virtual events are reaching more people than ever by providing a cost-effective and convenient alternative to in-person events. Virtual events cut down on travel costs and the costs associated with renting a venue. The convenience of attending a virtual event also lowers the barrier of entry for many participants and event speakers.
These differences can lead to a higher quality event. Cost savings can be used to improve the virtual experience and hire speakers who are in more demand. In-demand industry professionals may also be enticed by the ease of logging into the event from the comfort of their home or workspace.
More data is available post-event
Many virtual events include some sort of follow up after the event is over. This could be a quick survey or a more intensive review of the event. This feedback is critical in helping event organizers understand which aspects of their event were successful.
Access to data surrounding virtual events has also improved in the recent past. Many virtual event platforms offer extensive data to event organizers, including attendance and engagement metrics.
Virtual events are here to stay
While the uncertainty of the last few years left organizers unsure of the longevity of virtual events in a post-pandemic world, it’s clear now that virtual events are here to stay. With more certainty as to the future, virtual event platforms and event organizers are investing in better events.
Hospitality industry events showcase the vendors and services that attract guests and keep the industry on the cutting edge. These events bring industry leaders together to provide networking opportunities and demonstrate new technologies and products. Though these events have historically been in-person, virtual events are becoming more popular and can offer many benefits over traditional events.
Reach a wider audience
A well-organized virtual event can attract a wider audience than an in-person event. The convenience and ease of a virtual event is unbeatable. Since attendees can join from the comfort of their home or workspace, those who were on the fence previously can be easily convinced to attend.
For similar reasons, a virtual event can attract high-quality keynote speakers. The industry giant who you want at your event may not be willing to fly halfway across the world but can be more easily convinced to speak virtually.
Creatively showcase goods and services
Virtual events are well equipped for showcasing the hospitality industry's goods and services. Virtual events offer limitless flexibility, and organizers can showcase services through video or interactive mediums.
Some areas of hospitality (especially food and drinks) are better experienced with an in-person component. Virtual event organizers can use a creative approach to impress their audience while offering them a unique experience.
Food and beverage items can be sent to event attendees beforehand to tie into an interactive experience. Here are some examples:
Network with ease
Building connections is an essential aspect of an industry event. Virtual events make networking easy and fun. Virtual events can offer discussion groups, think tanks, roundtables, and social networking activities.
Virtual events can also utilize networking platforms that curate a unique experience. As an added benefit, these platforms allow participants to view a person’s name and information while speaking with them (no more embarrassing yourself by forgetting an acquaintance’s name).
The flexibility of virtual events allows for creative improvements to networking events. Have attendees fill out a survey before the event to understand who they would like to network with or which service providers they are looking to meet. Set up small breakout rooms or one-on-one meetings during networking breaks to curate the networking experience to the attendees’ needs.
Interactive technology demonstrations
Many hospitality industry events showcase technology solutions or improvements. A well-organized virtual event can allow your audience to interact directly with web-based technologies and see improvements firsthand.
Here are some examples of how technology solutions can be incorporated into virtual events:
Event sponsorships allow brands to advertise at your event. Sponsorships are a great way to garner financial support for your event outside of registration fees. In exchange, event sponsors expose their brand to an audience of highly engaged attendees. Building strong relationships with event sponsors takes a lot of work upfront but has a high return on investment.
Build attendance and engagement
Event sponsors are attracted to events with large numbers of highly engaged attendees. Working to increase your event’s attendance and engagement over time is a surefire way to attract event sponsors. If you’re running your first event, don’t be discouraged. Instead, use the number of RSVPs to show event sponsors their potential return on investment.
Perfect your elevator pitch
Effectively communicating with event sponsors is the first step in getting them to sign onto your event. An elevator pitch is a brief introduction to yourself and your product.
A company representative might be willing to sponsor an event but be unsure exactly what that sponsorship deal will look like. It’s your job to paint a picture for them.
A well-practiced elevator pitch includes a brief (think 30 seconds) introduction to yourself and your event and allows you to connect with the potential sponsor. Have a streamlined pitch in your back pocket to allow you to make the most of networking events or introductory phone calls.
A great elevator pitch ends with a question. Here are some examples:
Know the value of your event
When asking a company to sponsor your event, understand that they are taking a risk. The return on their investment is uncertain. It’s your job to communicate the value of your event to potential event sponsors.
Data and numbers are essential for adding credibility to your pitch. If your past events have had high engagement levels and many attendees, have the numbers to back up your claim. The most convincing data that you can present to a potential sponsor is data relating to the success of past event sponsors you have worked with.
If you haven’t worked with an event sponsor in the past, don’t be intimidated away from doing so. Instead, present your potential sponsor with an organized package showing exactly what they will get out of the deal. This can include a summary of how their brand will be presented at the event, how many social media posts their brand will be mentioned in, and how attendees can interact with the brand.
Event sponsorships have traditionally taken place in person at events. Event sponsors promote their products and services in exchange for providing financial assistance. These sponsorships often take the form of a trade show or conference booth, along with mentions on social media posts and event websites.
The shift towards events that take place online has revealed many benefits of sponsoring virtual events. While traditional promotional tactics (like branded booths, social media posts, merchandise, and a presence on an event website) are still relevant in the virtual space, virtual event sponsors can often access more data and reach a wider audience at a lower cost.
Differentiate your brand
Including virtual event sponsorships in your marketing strategy can set your brand apart. Since virtual events are still relatively untested in the marketing world, some event sponsors are reluctant to sponsor virtual events. This is good news for event sponsors willing to tread untested waters—sponsoring a virtual event can be a way to reach new audiences.
Virtual events generally attract a more tech-savvy crowd, which is great news for technology sponsors. Virtual events can also be more niche than in-person events, which is an excellent opportunity to seek out a sponsorship that fits your brand exactly. Virtual event sponsors can typically be pickier about virtual event brand deals than in-person deals.
Reach a larger, more directed audience
Virtual events can reach attendees worldwide with minimal travel costs and time investment. This can significantly bolster event attendance and offer virtual event sponsors a larger reach.
An organized event planner will also be able to provide more specific data about the demographics for a virtual event than an in-person event. During online registration, attendees typically include job titles, company names, home locations, and ages. This data can provide event sponsors with ample information to tailor their sponsorship directly to the event’s audience.
Opportunities to interact with attendees in a unique way
Virtual events open the door to unique interactions with attendees. Sponsor-driven networking sessions can be custom tailored to attendee interests at the click of a button. This highly individualized experience can drive attendee engagement with sponsors.
Event sponsors can also offer consulting sessions with event attendees. For example, an event sponsor offering a web-based technology solution can meet with event attendees in a virtual room to give a run down on pricing models and technical support. These personalized experiences can give event attendees a detailed picture of how an event sponsor’s offerings would fit with their business model.
Sponsoring a virtual event is generally more affordable than sponsoring an in-person event. Event sponsors can expect to save money on travel, staffing, and in-person giveaways. A lower cost and the potential for virtual events to attract more attendees can result in substantial payoffs for event sponsors.
Virtual event sponsorships are better for the environment than in-person event sponsorships. While this is good news for everyone, it’s also great news for brands whose mission aligns with sustainability.
Brands that promote sustainability may come across as disingenuous while handing out wasteful swag items at in-person events. Virtual events also reduce carbon emissions associated with travel. Eco-conscious brands should consider switching to virtual event sponsorships to maintain brand messaging.
A theme can bring an element of fun and excitement to a virtual event. Themed events can bolster attendance and engagement and lead to a memorable experience for attendees. Choosing a theme for your virtual event will also allow your event to stand out.
There are many possible event themes, but it’s important to consider your audience and the goal of your event when picking a theme. Fun, catchy event themes are a great way of increasing attendance and facilitating networking. Educational themes contribute to a participant’s career development. Here are some ideas for educational events:
Interactive themes are a good fit for smaller groups but might be counterproductive in a large group. A happy hour is fun for a small, tight-knit team, but a happy hour in a virtual meeting with 100 people can end in people talking over each other or uncomfortable silences. Instead, for a larger group, choose a theme that involves one main speaker and sprinkle in interactive elements with a Q&A or breakout rooms. Here are some ideas for fun, interactive events:
Event themes can also provoke thought about topics or issues affecting the industry where your event takes place. Thought-provoking themes depend heavily on the type of event you are planning and your audience. Here are some examples:
Curating your virtual booth to be fun and engaging will make your sponsorship memorable and generate genuine discussion surrounding your products and services. Here are some ideas for unique virtual booths to bring your A-game to your next virtual event:
1. Important announcement
If your brand has a new development, piece of technology, or merger, wait for the upcoming virtual event to announce it. Attendees will feel like they’re “in the know,” which will bolster engagement with your brand. Saving important announcements for significant events will generate social media buzz as attendees discuss the event in real-time.
2. Board game inspired
Have fun with your virtual booth by theming it after a board game. From a “Scrabble” themed booth where attendees compete to create words relevant to the event to a “Monopoly” themed booth where attendees collect a prize after passing go, the possibilities are limitless.
3. History lesson
Use the theme of the virtual event to create a custom-tailored history lesson. For a virtual event related to the hospitality industry, this could be a fun informational session about the history of winemaking. For a tech conference, this could be a history lesson about social media. Attendees will have the chance to learn something new while engaging with your brand.
Gameshow formats are endlessly customizable for a virtual booth. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are exciting themes for your virtual. Just don’t forget to include prizes for the winners (these could consist of a virtual gift card or branded swag sent to their home address).
5. Technology demonstration
Tech brands can use a virtual booth to demonstrate their technology in real-time. This allows booth attendees to become familiar with your brand, ask questions, and see a real-life example of how your services are used.
6. Consulting session
A consulting session can be an effective way of making sales directly from a virtual booth. Participants can provide real examples of problems or data from their business, and your brand representative can provide real solutions.
A Q&A virtual booth is a good option for brands where attendees might have some background knowledge about the brand but are not entirely familiar with your offerings and how the product works. This format allows attendees to increase brand recognition and think about ways they might interact with your brand offerings.
8. Virtual reality
Many people are excited to interact with virtual reality and have had few opportunities to do so. Having a virtual reality component in your virtual booth could draw participants who might be familiar with your brand or offerings.
9. Professional development
Design a virtual booth that gives attendees information relevant to the success of their careers. This could be a lesson about writing an eye-catching resume and CV or how to make your Linkedin profile pop. This information can be presented by a brand representative but should come from someone in the know about hiring and recruiting.
If you expect your attendees to know lots of information about your brand before coming to your booth, you can use information about your brand as trivia questions. If not, use questions relevant to the virtual event and sprinkle in fun facts about your brand.
Plan effectively to set your event up for success
Planning is the first step in organizing and managing a successful event. Planning should include choosing a virtual event platform that conforms to your event, setting a clear agenda for the event, and coordinating with speakers and guests.
During the planning stage, run through the steps and timeframes of your event. Ask yourself if there are any lengthy time gaps between speakers, whether interactive segments are spaced out in a way that effectively engages your audience, and if all logistical details are clearly communicated. Effectively planning an event can help to avoid snafus, technical difficulties, and boredom.
Have an open line of communication with your guests and speakers
Imagine that a virtual event guest cannot log into the virtual event platform on the day of the event. Hearing about their experience after the event can allow organizers to fix bugs related to broken event links, create a more user-friendly event page, and refund a guest. Still, that guest will have missed out on the event! To avoid similar situations, ensure there are clear methods of contacting event staff throughout the event.
Ensuring that guests and speakers have a method of communicating with event organizers allows issues to be resolved in real-time. While post-event feedback is vital to improving future event experiences, real-time feedback is necessary for addressing issues as they occur.
Moderate the event
Event moderators are present to ensure that panels and discussions are enjoyable, effective, and running on time. Moderators can also field Q&A segments and provide discussion topics. Even with the best planning, events can sometimes run off course. Moderators should be confident in knowing when they can step in to steer the event back in the right direction.
If multiple panels or discussions are running simultaneously, ensure that there is a dedicated moderator for each. While it might be tempting to have one moderator jumping back and forth between virtual events, this could lead to issues slipping through the cracks.
Delegate tasks and curate a great team
As your events grow in size and complexity, you may find them impossible to manage alone. There’s no shame in bringing on additional team members who can take on tasks. When curating your team, look at areas where you fall short. Do you struggle with the technical aspects of virtual event planning? Hire someone with IT skills to troubleshoot technical issues. Does marketing your event take up way too much time? Find someone with a background in event marketing to take these tasks off your hands. For smaller events, even one or two people providing part-time assistance can make a huge difference in successfully managing an event.
Learn from your event and follow up with your audience
Your own successes and failures will always be the best place to learn about successful event management. Throughout the event, note what’s working and what isn’t. If you find yourself wishing you had an extra pair of arms during the event, that’s a sure sign that you might need more help.
After the event is complete, follow up with event participants to understand what they liked and didn’t like about your event. This information will be crucial in understanding where you can improve as an event manager. If multiple participants have a similar complaint, that’s a great place to start improving for future events.
Live streaming is a great way to give an in-person feel to a virtual event. With live streaming, a virtual audience watches presenters in real time. At Chati, we recommend event hosts look for specific live streaming features and capabilities when planning their virtual event.
The top live video streaming services should offer:
All of these features can increase attendee and sponsor satisfaction, which means an increased return on your investment (ROI).
Projected event size factors into how to choose a live streaming service. For smaller events, look for a service that offers simple, straightforward tools. For larger events, look for services that offer more features, like those that help with event management, offer more variety in attendee engagement tools, and provide analytics that prove your event ROI.
Some popular websites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube offer free live streaming services for businesses to better connect with their audiences. Businesses may use them to sell products and promote content to their customers or might share demos and educational content with other businesses they’re working with. While these platforms offer features like event scheduling, live chat, live polling, graphics sharing, and monetization through ad sharing, they don’t offer multi-streaming capabilities across other platforms—if you’re using Facebook, your content stays on just Facebook. These platforms also do not offer customer support, and they interrupt your audience’s streaming with ads. YouTube, however, does allow you to remove ads for a fee.
A hit virtual event can take your brand to a whole new level. How do you decide what kind of live streaming service is right for you? Chati recommends you consider the following factors: