In 2020 the world was forced to make big changes. In the events industry, virtually all events were canceled—except for the ones that were able to quickly pivot to a virtual or hybrid format. In 2021, live events began to return, but the industry has changed forever. Live is no longer the only option, and the advantages of the virtual format mean they continue to be the preferred option for many events—and will continue to be.
A virtual event is a version of a live event where all the action happens online. Instead of attendees showing up to a convention center or hotel, they log into a website or event platform from wherever they are. And instead of walking around an exhibition hall, watching a keynote speech, or sitting in a theater to attend a panel discussion, attendees do these things in virtual spaces. For just about every element of a live event, there’s an online counterpart that is just as effective.
Events can be 100% virtual, with all elements online, or they can include both live elements and virtual elements. In this case, they’re called hybrid events, since they’re a mix of both kinds.
Why go virtual for your next event?
Virtual events are a viable, valuable alternative to in-person events for so many reasons. Here are a few:
Expand your attendee base – People aren’t restricted by geography or cost because they don’t have to travel or book accommodations to attend the event. You could expand your audience to the next state over, the opposite coast, or even other countries just by going virtual.
The online environment is ideal for monetization – From event websites to apps to 3D virtual event environments, there are plenty of opportunities for event brands and sponsors to expose an audience to their marketing messages.
3D immersive events have staying power – The content created for a virtual event can be made available afterwards, extending the life and the ROI of your event. It can also be repackaged and repurposed for other marketing efforts.
Virtual Events Offer Incredible Analytics
One of the most important and valuable differences between virtual events and live events is something that may not be immediately obvious: data. The simple fact is, because a virtual event takes place online, it has the power to generate a huge amount of useful data.
It’s infinitely easier to track attendees online than it is to track them at a live event. Once an individual logs into your event website, you have access to everything they do at the event, including what site pages or content they visit and how long they spend there. Plus, you can easily track individuals and just as easily aggregate data for statistical purposes.
It’s very easy to gather such invaluable data. Your attendees do a lot of the work for you, just by filling in registration forms and surveys. And since each attendee has their own unique login identifier, you have the ability to match demographic information to attendee behavior data, giving you even more information about what specific groups and individuals do at the event. For instance:
Virtual event data can tell you how many people watch a presentation and how many stop watching before the end. It can also tell you the exact moment they turn the presentation off and even what event content they choose to watch after that.
Matching user data with demographic data can show you how different groups of people interact with your event. For instance, it can indicate which event content is most popular with managers, or what brands and products are of most interest to buyers.
Tracking engagement data via click-through rates and other interaction indicators can record levels of engagement for speakers and other presentations, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor content.
Pre- and post-event surveys add extra layers, as you can use email matching to correlate event activity and survey data. Are attendees with higher engagement levels more likely to be satisfied with their event experience? This strategy gives you the chance to find out.
In short, virtual events allow you to track attendee behavior and attitudes at a huge array of event touchpoints. This gives you enormous potential for using data to create better events and improve both your event ROI and your relationship with your event audience.
An Immersive Virtual Event Is Not a Webinar
Webinars have been around since the 1990s, and they’re considered by some to be the first virtual events. But these days, the technology that powers virtual events has moved far beyond the kind of tech that’s used for webinars.
A webinar is a web-based seminar that’s typically produced to disseminate information or provide education on a topic. They may include elements such as a Q&A session or panel discussion, slide-sharing or video displays, and live chat. And they’re often held on platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.
A virtual event may include one or more webinar-style sessions, but it goes way beyond this static format. Just like a live event, it may include multiple speakers, panels, or education sessions, and even virtual exhibit booths.
Along with the greater variety of content, virtual events also vastly increase the scope for attendee engagement, enjoyment, and satisfaction. While some webinars do allow for limited audience participation with a Q&A format, opportunities for engagement are generally limited. At a virtual event there is a wide range of content types available and an equally wide range of ways for attendees to interact with each other and with the event. It’s not just Q&A, it’s live Q&A, along with live video presentations, gamification elements, text- and voice-based chat, breakout spaces, social and entertainment spaces, 3D virtual environments, and broadcast-TV-quality production values.
Engaging, Immersive Virtual Events Require the Right Platform
Every live event needs a venue. Virtual events are no different in this respect. A virtual event platform is a kind of web portal where all the event action takes place. Event attendees purchase digital tickets, which then allows them to log into the platform to access event content.
At its simplest, a virtual event can use a web conferencing app such as Zoom to bring people together. But virtual events platforms can do so much more than this. Purpose-designed event software provides attendees with a virtual venue where they can access different kinds of content, interact with content, and interact with one another too.
There are specific benefits for event organizers too. Using a virtual event platform allows you to deploy all event content in the same place, making the whole process more seamless and easier to oversee. Pick the right platform, and it will help you create a more interactive, more memorable event that’s more engaging for attendees.
XtendLive is a highly customizable and scalable virtual event software platform that is more than the ordinary. We create high-quality, three-dimensional, interactive environments that attendees can actually explore as they access event content. Attendee engagement is a vital part of designing a successful virtual event, so this is a core element of every virtual space we create.
What Kinds of Events Can Run on the XtendLive Virtual Events Platform?
The XtendLive platform is both customizable and scalable, meaning that it can power virtually any kind of event, at any size. It all depends on what you need. Choose between our adaptable venue templates—with infinitely scalable exhibit halls—or opt for the custom route, and let us design a virtual venue that does exactly what you need. The XtendLive virtual event platform can power everything from meetings and pop-up experiences to education and training sessions to conferences, exhibitions, and trade shows.
What Kinds of Content Can My Event Use?
Our virtual event software supports a wide range of content, including
- Video Chat
- Pre-recorded Video
- And more
And if you have something special in mind for your event, let us know and we’ll work with you to make it happen.
Plus, the XtendLive platform has a content management system to help you add and schedule content to create seamless attendee experiences.
Need more? We can also help with content production, including:
- Content and media creation
- Set design
- Scripting and directing
- Talent acquisition
- Speaker coaching
Capture and Keep Attendees’ Attention with Interactive Elements
One of the biggest advantages of live events is that they’re inherently interactive. Interaction boosts engagement, and engagement is a key indicator that you have an attendee’s attention. When they’re engaged, they’re actively listening and absorbing information. However, many event organizers struggle when it comes to boosting engagement for online events. It’s harder to create an engaged virtual audience because, for most people, sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time makes it increasingly difficult to absorb information. In addition, it’s easy for virtual attendees to switch off if their engagement dips too low, as they can simply leave the event website or log off the platform. This makes it especially important that virtual event content is designed and scheduled to promote attendee engagement.
With virtual events, it’s part of our job to understand what makes good, engaging event content and other engagement features. We use what we’ve learned to add interactive elements that make the event and its content more engaging. That’s why we create 3D environments that allow event attendees to explore the virtual venue just like they would a physical one. And, we can add elements that encourage attendees to interact with each other and with the venue environment. This creates a virtual venue that’s immersive and interactive, just like a live one.
Integrate Event Sponsors and Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is a common feature of live events, and it integrates equally well into virtual events. XtendLive’s 3D immersive environments provide plenty of space for sponsored brand messaging. And, if desired, we can design and integrate custom booths that showcase your sponsors, provide sponsored brand experiences, and even encourage attendee interaction.
Measure Virtual Event ROI to Determine Your Success
Determining the success of an event hinges on whether you’ve met your event goals. And, of course, it’s also about profitability. But measuring ROI can be challenging, especially for organizations that are new to virtual events.
XtendLive’s comprehensive virtual events platform streamlines it all, thanks to integrated analytics tools that help you measure KPIs both during and after your event.
Get Even More from Your Virtual Event After It’s Over
One key advantage of virtual events that often goes overlooked is how easy it is to repurpose event content to generate additional ROI. After an event is over, there are many ways to use event content to build on your event achievements. For instance, you can: Create a retrospective on the event website that includes speaker highlights, still images, event statistics, and other interesting content.
Reusing event content can be an effective way to increase your event ROI by making that content continue building value after it’s all over. Using it to continue attracting website traffic can also boost attendee retention figures, helping you prove event ROI to potential sponsors and exhibitors.
Start Planning Your Virtual Event Now
The early stages of planning a virtual event are similar to live event planning, with a focus on developing goals and objectives and thinking about possible event content.
Whether you’re planning a virtual event from scratch or want to transition a live event to a virtual environment, XtendLive can help! See demos of our virtual event platform here, and contact us to speak with our team about building an engaging, immersive, unforgettable virtual event that meets all your event objectives.