The value of people engaging one another in a face-to-face setting will never go away, but virtual events can help bridge the gap when physically getting together isn’t an option, either due to distance, money, or most recently, the coronavirus.
You’ve probably already taken an online educational class, attended a work brainstorming session, or even participated in an online yoga class from the comfort of your computer. So, you already know what a virtual event is all about! A virtual event is simply one in which people experience it online rather than getting together in person.
Do People Like Online Events? A Look at the Statistics
In a 2019 survey, 33% of marketers stated that their company has hosted an online event and 70% of these respondents said that they plan to hold more in the future. Why? Virtual events bring the event to attendees, allowing them to be present without the inconveniences and expenses of travel. Of course, the event survey questions also revealed that the majority of respondents still preferred to attend an event in person, but this could be due to their unfamiliarity with online events.
Today, a 2020 survey of event marketers reveals that 87% of major event organizers are running a virtual event this year and an additional 90% plan to do them for the future. This rapid uptick in the growth of online events was likely in large part due to COVID-19. Of course, eventually, the virus will be behind us; even then, virtual event attendance quite likely will continue to grow.
“Even when everything gets back to normal, there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to feel comfortable going to Vegas or Orlando with 10,000 other people,” says Ben Chodor, president of the communications company Intrado Digital Media, which offers a virtual event platform. “So you better embrace virtual now, because it is here to stay.”
Companies and People Popularizing Virtual Events
You might think that online events outside of the classroom or workplace variety are doomed to fail. However, some of the world’s largest companies have embraced the idea, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Here are four virtual event examples that prove “the show must go on” even during a global pandemic!
Milan Fashion Week
Due to the spread of the coronavirus in Italy, Giorgio Armani held his signature brand’s women’s fall show completely behind closed doors, without the usual press and buyers, online. A spokesperson for the style mogul’s company said that the decision was made to avoid exposing guests to any dangers to their health.
Salesforce World Tour
Customer relationship management (CRM) cloud-based software company Salesforce reformatted their Salesforce World Tour, making event attendance digital in light of the coronavirus concerns. The online events promise to still deliver a full program of inspiration and enablement, streamed completely online for the first time ever.
Microsoft Developer Conference
One of Microsoft’s biggest news events of the year, the Build Developer Conference tech event scheduled for mid-May has been reconfigured as a digital event. A Microsoft spokesperson said, “In light of the health safety recommendations… we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event as a digital event in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect, and code together.”
It was no doubt a bummer for fans to find out concerts by their favorite artists were canceled, but many performers helped ease the pain a little by offering free live streaming events, sometimes from their own home. For example, Elton John and iHeart Radio banded together to bring to social distancers a “Living Room Concert for America,” featuring some of today’s biggest stars performing live.
How Do You Plan a Virtual Event?
An online event won’t be right for everyone, of course, but as these virtual event examples demonstrate, almost anything can be taken to the internet! So how do you determine if a virtual event is right for your business or your client, and how do you plan an online event? Engage your attendees or potential attendees, of course! You’ll want to go about this in a few ways.
Gauge Interest Before Scheduling a Virtual Event
If you’ve already decided to cancel your in-person event, you should gauge interest amongst those who were scheduled to attend to see if they’d be interested in a online event instead. You can also reach out to non-attendees (who knows, you may get better attendance simply because now anyone can attend without worrying about travel and accommodations). You can do all of this through an event planning survey. Just like your event, this can be a virtual survey send via email. Five survey questions about attending an online conference or other event you may want to ask include:
- Have you ever attended a virtual event?
- Would you be interested in attending one?
- Do you think it would be better to postpone the event until it can be held in-person?
- If you have pre-paid for the event, do you expect a full or partial refund if the event goes online?
- If the event goes online, are you able to easily connect to a virtual event with your existing equipment?
Survey People about Their Interests
People have a shorter attention span when attending a virtual event versus an in-person event. So, it helps to survey them on what they hope to see at this event, as matching their requests can help increase event performance.
Considering our virtual event examples above, you may want to ask what clothing lines they’re most interested in seeing on the virtual runway; which technologies they’d like someone to demonstrate; and which artists they’re most interested in watching.
Send Virtual Event Satisfaction Surveys
It’s important not to host a virtual event and then call it a night. You should always ask attendees how satisfied they were with the event, if they’d be interested in attending future virtual events, and if they have suggestions for improvement. If not only helps make follow-up events better, but shows attendees that you care. Some survey questions to ask after an event that’s been hosted virtually include:
- How would you rate this virtual event?
- Would you have preferred to attend this event in-person?
- Why did you decide to attend this virtual event?
- How did you learn about this virtual event?
- What is one thing that you loved about this virtual event?
- What is one thing that could have been improved?
- How was the quality of the video during the event? The audio?
- Would you recommend this to a friend or colleague? (This will help you obtain a Net Promoter Score)
While the value of face-to-face meetings will never go away, many have been temporarily put on hold due to COVID. Has the coronavirus created havoc when it comes to your event planning? Or are you just looking to save money down the road by transforming in-person events into virtual events? SurveyLegend can help you gauge interest in event attendance before, during, and after through virtual surveys.
With SurveyLegend, virtual event planning becomes much simpler because you’ll know if there’s interest and what people expect from it. Our pre-designed surveys are easy to create, easy on the eyes, and easy to complete, so your attendees, and potential attendees, will take the time to give you the answers you need. We also provide insightful analytics to help you with tracking event ROI, understanding event participation levels, and more. Get started with SurveyLegend for free today.
Have you held an event virtually recently? How was your event attendance? We’d love to hear from event planners who’ve made the switch from in-person events to online events!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In recent surveys, 33% of companies state that they have hosted a virtual event. 70% state they plan to host one in the future.
Yes; a 2020 survey of event marketers reveals that 87% of major event organizers are running a virtual event this year.
By surveying people prior to an event, you can gauge their interest. You can also ask if they have the necessary equipment to attend the event virtually. Finally, you can ask if they would rather attend the event in person.
Surveying people after an event lets you ask how they’d rate it overall. You can ask if they would attend another in the future and if they’d recommend it. You’ll also want to ask how the audiovisual quality was. Lastly, be sure to ask if they see any room for improvement.