The coronavirus has impacted the way many companies do business (and sadly, it’s put many out of business, at least temporarily). The pandemic has been especially detrimental to those in the hospitality industry and companies that specialize in event planning.
How are you supposed to maintain event attendance when everyone is being told to stay at home? The answer is virtual events.
In these unusual times, many people have become accustomed to doing things online that they would have normally done physically. They’re communicating with co-workers via video chat, and buying groceries, ordering food delivery, and scheduling non-emergency doctor appointments through apps.
So, it’s not a stretch that those in the hospitality industry can still hold events through the wealth of online resources available to them. But how will people respond?
Do People Like Virtual Events? A Look at the Statistics
According to a recent survey, 33% of marketers stated that their company has hosted a virtual event. 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 inconvenience, and expense, of travel.
Of course, the survey also revealed that the majority of respondents still preferred to attend an event in person, but this is likely due to their unfamiliarity with virtual events. Now, with the coronavirus keeping many people in lockdown, virtual event attendance is sure to continue to grow—and perhaps even increase in popularity long after things get back to normal as it becomes the norm.
Companies and People Popularizing Virtual Events
You might think that virtual events are doomed to fail. However, some of the world’s largest companies have embraced the idea, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Here’s a look at four big events that took their shows virtual in response to the coronavirus 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 virtual 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.
Is a Virtual Event Right For You?
A virtual event won’t be right for everyone, of course, but as these 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 to promote such an 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 virtual 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 online survey.
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 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.
Plan for Virtual Events with SurveyLegend
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 online surveys.
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.