21 Fresh Ways to Increase Engagement at Your Virtual Conference in 2023

Cassy Aite
January 5, 2023
21 Fresh Ways to Increase Engagement at Your Virtual Conference in 2023

Now that people are used to hosting and attending online conferences, the goal has shifted from adoption to engagement. No longer can you get away with hosting a subpar event — your virtual conference needs to capture your audience’s attention.

In this article, we’ll explore how to create engaging virtual conferences in 2023. We’ll cover why engagement matters, then share our favorite tips and ideas on how to create better experiences for your attendees. 

Why engagement matters at virtual events

Too much information has been shown to decrease attention span, which is bad news for anyone trying to keep their audience’s focus. The answer to lower than ever attention spans? Super engaging content and experiences. 

Virtual conferences need to have an agenda packed with immersive, engaging experiences and opportunities to keep their audience’s attention.

Engaging experiences are a must-have, but making your event content as exciting as an in-person event can be a challenge. Recent research shows that 26% of people are more likely to rate an online event as “not fun,” which means your event has to be engaging to attract rave reviews and positive case studies from your audience. 

An engaged audience doesn’t just make sense; it’s often what event planners are evaluated on. 82% of B2B marketers surveyed said that attendee engagement is a key metric for evaluating the success of an event. If success is the goal for stakeholders, engagement has to be the focus. 

Boost virtual conference engagement with refreshmentsWho doesn’t love grabbing a coffee and seeing what’s for lunch at an in-person conference? While that looks a little different with virtual conferences, tempting refreshments are still an amazing way to drive interest and engagement at virtual events

But don’t just hand over a card or virtual voucher. Instead, get creative with your event catering. Suggest a theme or cuisine and encourage your guests to order relevant takeout from their favorite restaurant, or snacks via Instacart. Surprise your guests with a box of treats in the mail, and ask them to open it during your first break of the day.

Send everyone a Hoppier virtual card loaded with a balance to spend at Starbucks (or their beloved local cafe), then join a group for a virtual coffee date before the main event begins. The great thing about Hoppier is that it’s truly global — so your attendees can get involved wherever they are in the world. There’s so much you can do with your virtual event catering to stand out and create engaging moments. 

Engage event attendees with entertainment

One of our favorite things about conferences and live events is connecting with other attendees. At a virtual conference, one of the best ways to do this is to bring people together through entertainment. 

Create amazing, engaging collective entertainment experiences for your attendees. Set a time in your conference schedule where people can watch a film together, then chat afterwards. Host a trivia quiz over lunch and give away incredible prizes to the winning team. Create a virtual dance studio and invite people to a dance contest in your lunch break. 

Set up a live stream of a band playing before the event kicks off, or just before you all enjoy a virtual happy hour. Most things translate well into a virtual space — all you need is the right integrations, plenty of enthusiasm, and the best team. 

Creative gift and experience ideas to help you create engaging virtual conferences in any niche

Food, drink, and entertainment should be staples on your list if you want to host a highly engaging virtual conference. It doesn’t stop there though — there’s so much more you can do to create unmissable experiences for your target audience. 

Pave the way for better attendee engagement with a gifting and experience program tailored to the type of conference you’re planning. Host an HR conference focused on wellness with a virtual goody bag to match, or make your tech conference the place to be for exclusive interactive experiences. 

Looking for ideas on how to customize your attendee experience to the industry you work in? Here are some of our best ideas for creative experience and gifting ideas in different niches. Talk about these on your event details page to attract even more registrations. 

Leadership conferences

You’ve gathered a group of people together to learn more about leadership, management, and motivation. Add these virtual conference ideas to your event to continue that theme throughout your guest experience. 

1. Access to a virtual leadership program

Give your attendees the gift of learning with access to an online course or program led by a thought leadership expert. Secure a great deal with the course presenter so you can give the course to everyone, or offer a discount code instead if you’re on a budget. 

2. Audiobook credits 

There are so many incredible books out there on leadership and management. Create a list of your go-to books in this space, then give your attendees an easy way to learn with audiobook credits. Use Hoppier to send virtual credit cards to your guests, loaded with a balance that they can spend at Audible. 

3. Virtual afterparty with a renowned speaker

Sometimes the best thing about a virtual conference is the chance to spend time with the keynote speaker. Schedule an afterparty with a sought-after speaker, where people can ask questions and share ideas in a relaxed virtual experience.

Medical conferences

Some of the brightest minds in healthcare and the medical fields are about to join your virtual conference to learn, share ideas, and make connections. Take inspiration from these ideas to create engaging experiences for them to enjoy.

4. Virtual tour of a top-rated facility

It's always exciting to see something new and innovative. Ask a sponsor or leader to give a real-time virtual tour of a new facility, so people can see behind the scenes and ask questions. You could also host a pre-recorded video in a breakout room, so people can enjoy the experience on-demand. 

5. Self care treat

Experts in the medical field work hard, so surprise your guests with a self care treat as a much-needed reward for everything they do. Set up a Hoppier program and send your attendees a virtual card that they can spend on a relaxing booking through Spafinder. 

6. Virtual networking session

Set up a fun virtual environment where people can enjoy networking opportunities together. Speed networking, small talk over coffee, and an expert-led mingling event are all great options. Look for a virtual event platform that allows you to create immersive digital experiences, with a focus on making connections. 

Education conferences

In education, things are always changing. Use these virtual conference ideas to support your attendees to learn new techniques, access training programs, and invest in their future. 

7. Access to a high quality learning platform

Education budgets are always challenging to work with, but in an ever-changing industry it’s essential to stay on top of your skills. Give your event attendees access to a learning platform where they can refresh their skills and learn the latest techniques. This would also work great as a sponsorship deal for a learning provider — letting you create benefits for both parties.

8. Exclusive virtual fireside chat with an industry expert

It’s not always the scheduled talks where you learn the most. Invite an expert or influencer in the education field to an engaging fireside chat. Set up a Zoom video chat or host the session in a breakout room in your live event platform, and invite your audience to pose questions and learn from a brilliant mind. This is always appreciated by audiences, with 78% of people saying they find an online Q&A session engaging. If you’re hosting a two-day event, this is a great way to finish one of the days. 

9. Virtual credit card to spend on learning supplies

Nobody gets through office supplies and stationery quite like someone in the education field. Use Hoppier to send a virtual credit card to your attendees and encourage them to spend it on paper goods and classroom must-haves at Staples or their favorite supplier. 

Marketing conferences

With so many marketing conferences happening in 2022, it’s tough to stand out. Get inspired by these experience ideas to attract an audience with engaging moments that they won’t find anywhere else. 

10. VIP access to a top-tier marketing tool

The best industry software can get expensive — especially if you need multiple users. Give your attendees the chance to test cutting-edge tools with a discounted plan or free VIP trial. Work with your sponsorship team to invite a marketing tool provider, which can help boost event engagement for everyone.

11. Swipe file of marketing ideas

Marketing is often an ideas industry, and there’s no shortage of brilliant campaigns for inspiration — if you know where to look. Put together an impressive swipe file of the best webinars, social media posts, event marketing, landing pages, and content marketing pieces to share with your audience. It’s inexpensive to create, but full of value for your target audience. 

12. Virtual word game challenge to win prizes 

Games are one of the best ways to engage your audience at virtual conferences. Invite your attendees to battle it out in a word game challenge to win prizes individually or as teams. This is especially great if your conference is focused on copywriting or content marketing, but it’s also great for general marketing events. 

Tech conferences

The tech industry moves at top-speed, which means there’s always fresh ways to engage your audience. Take a look at these gifting and experience ideas to take your virtual tech conference to the next level this year. 

13. Virtual product demos

While you can’t give a hands-on demo like you could at an in-person conference, you can make your virtual trade show product demos as interactive as possible. Encourage your virtual convention or conference exhibitors to use immersive product demos for guests. In particular, take full use of VR, AI, and the metaverse to bring tech to life through the screen. 

14. Virtual credit card to spend on new tech products

There’s nothing better than experiencing a product for yourself. If you’ve got the budget, use Hoppier to send funds directly to your guests so they can buy some new tech. Keep your virtual card vendor list open so people can shop at Amazon or the Apple store, or limit it to exhibitors and sponsors at your event to encourage people to try their products out. 

15. Sponsored mini hackathon event 

Invite your event attendees to play an active part in your virtual conference by hosting a mini hackathon. Get into teams to solve a problem and come up with ideas and practical ways to build something great. This is a really engaging breakout session that’s perfect for tech-focused conferences. 

HR conferences

Smart, savvy HR teams are more in demand than ever. Give your event attendees exciting new ideas and the HR tools they’ll need for the future with these virtual conference ideas. 

16. Product demo of a new HR platform

It’s always great to see what’s on the market, even if you’re not thinking of switching providers right away. Introduce your guests to a new HR platform or tool with an interactive product demo, hosted by the brand or sponsor. 

17. Virtual guided meditation session

Take inspiration from the wellness sector and host a relaxing meditation session to help your event attendees unwind and focus. For hybrid events, you could host an in-person event with a livestream so your virtual attendees can tune in and take part. 

18. Wellness themed virtual gift card 

Employee engagement and happiness are a focus for most HR teams these days, so include a corporate wellness gift card in your virtual event bag. With Hoppier, you can give your attendees a balance to spend at tons of great wellness providers including Calm, Centr, and Talkspace.

Business conferences

There’s tons of competition in the business conference space, which means your event has to have something special or unique to really stand out. Take a look at some of our favorite virtual conference ideas for this niche to see which works best for your event. 

19. Access to a collection of online business courses 

You never stop learning in the world of business. There’s always new ideas, tools, and techniques out there to help you make a bigger impact in your career or company. Get in touch with a provider that has tons of online business courses — like Udemy or Skillshare — to strike up access or a promotional offer for your event attendees. 

20. Conference-wide virtual contest 

Gamification is always a winning idea when it comes to audience engagement. Look for a virtual conference platform with gamification built in, and encourage your guests to take part in activities to earn points that they can redeem on prizes and rewards. Offer a Hoppier virtual card as a reward option. Encourage your attendees to spend it on useful tools like Notion, Otter.ai, and Todoist — or treat themselves with chocolate, tech, or stationery. 

21. Virtual happy hour 

Reward your guests with a laid back event experience at the end of your conference day with a virtual happy hour. Create a fun virtual space where people can meet, get to know each other, swap ideas, and share their thoughts about the event — all while enjoying some drinks from the comfort of their home. 

Create powerful virtual conference engagement with Hoppier 

2022 is the year to embrace your creativity and bring engaging experiences to your virtual conference. Plan immersive virtual experiences, put on an impressive live show, and wow your guests with plenty of catering options that they can enjoy wherever they are. 

Make Hoppier your go-to tool to help you create the best virtual conference yet. Our virtual credit cards allow you to bring catering, entertainment, experiences, and corporate gifts to a truly global audience. 

Our process is swift, seamless, and designed to be easy for you to manage. Create and customize a program in moments, then schedule your virtual cards to be sent just before your event kicks off. 

Personalize your virtual cards with your brand colors and company logo to make them stand out. Set a spending budget and decide when your guests can spend their balance — then get any leftover credit returned to you at the end. Create a customized list of available vendors, or allow your attendees to spend their card anywhere. 

Hoppier was designed with user experience in mind, too. Your event attendees are led to a styled page that displays your branded card and all the details they need to order refreshments, buy a subscription, or treat themselves to a gift. It’s the ultimate in giving your event attendees a practical gift that also feels personalized. 

Make your next virtual conference more impactful 

Hosting a virtual conference is exciting, but it comes with challenges — one of the biggest being how to make it as engaging as an in-person event. Consider the ideas, tips, and tools above to help you plan the kind of online conference that captures someone’s attention.

For even more ways to keep your audience’s focus on what’s important, watch our webinar on 7 ways to create more memorable and engaging virtual events. Our event experts take you through their best advice on how to attract, and retain, your audience’s attention.

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Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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