Virtual Events Can Offer Real Results
Lately it seems all event planners want to tack a virtual claim onto their events, whether it’s truly virtual or not. Some try it through exclusive standalone events or as hybrid options that take traditional live events to the next level.
Unfortunately, the modus operandi for many event planners seems to be adding virtual components as an afterthought in order to make the claim rather than adapting their events to capitalize on the benefits of virtual features.
If the former sounds like your strategy, you’re really missing an opportunity to engage and captivate your attendees at a much deeper level than has previously been possible. Instead of putting up limited-time events, consider creating a persistent virtual environment. With a PVE, you’re actually building and maintaining a community that provides unlimited access to all the information and participants, with your company and its experts as the hub.
Think about what that means. Say you hold a typical, live event such as a webcast. You work hard to get 350 people to sign up. On event day, 200 actually attend, and there is a lively Q&A session at the end. When it’s over, you follow up with those who couldn’t make it and offer a link to a recording of the webcast. Some watch it, and see the interaction between presenters and participants, but can’t really take part. A week later, you’re on to promoting the next event, and follow up activities for the last one fall to the wayside.
Comparatively, an ongoing PVE emphasizes community interactions. You get members to sign up along the way so you already have a built-in audience for your content. If you’re doing a webcast, you can notify the entire community, who are already involved and engaged with you, giving you a better shot at gaining the kind of numbers you want.
But it’s after the webcast that the real value of a PVE kicks in. The people who couldn’t make the live webcast aren’t relegated just to being spectators. They’re still able to participate in the conversation because the PVE has discussion boards, chat rooms and other mechanisms that keep it going long after the original event. So the thought-provoking Q&A session doesn’t have to come to an end due to time constraints. Instead, exchanges can continue indefinitely and involve individuals who weren’t able to participate at the start. Moreover, a second webcast on a related topic a few months later can directly tie into the ongoing conversation. Supporting materials from your subject matter experts also can be part of the overall experience—as well as spur additional discussion.
This white paper explains in more detail why a PVE offers so much more value than the typical virtual event. It also outlines how to determine if a PVE is right for your organization, how to go about planning for one, and what actually happens in it based on the experiences of InterCall Event Services and a few of our customers. It also shows how you can gather information from the actions of community members to make continuous improvements in the PVE, allowing you to deliver even greater value. All of which ultimately helps you make the sale.
Don’t let virtual be an afterthought when planning your next event. Keep it top of mind and your attendees will keep your company there, too.
Eric Vidal is the director of product marketing for the event services business segment at InterCall, the world’s largest conferencing and collaboration services provider. He is presenting a session on hybrid meetings at this month’s Collaborate Technology Summit, which will be webcast with a live chat on Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. He can be reached at email@example.com.