6 Ways To Create Incredible Event Experiences in a Virtual Space

Cassy Aite
July 15, 2021
6 Ways To Create Incredible Event Experiences in a Virtual Space

As virtual events have become more popular, it’s becoming harder to secure and engage attendees just by hosting one. It’s time to put your event planning focus on how to deliver amazing event experiences in a digital space.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to deliver memorable, immersive event experiences for your virtual event attendees. With these tips, you'll have everyone excited to sign up for your next event.

Recreating Event Experience in the Virtual Space

Once seen as a novel idea, virtual events are steadily growing — with the number of organizations planning virtual events doubling in 2020. A survey by Bizzabo found that over 90% of event marketers want to include virtual events in their strategy.

While virtual and hybrid events are undoubtedly the way forward, marketers and organizations are having trouble recreating the live event experience in the digital world. With so much of event experience being driven by the atmosphere, connections, and interactions, it’s understandable.  

However, this experience is fundamental to creating new opportunities, strengthening relationships, and making a lasting impact. That’s why we’re looking at the basics of event experience to understand how event planners can adapt and optimize for digital or virtual platforms to deliver a memorable event experience.

Adapting Your Event Experience for Virtual Platforms

With events, the experience is everything. And it doesn’t just happen in the moment. From that initial sign up right through to your post-event survey, the event experience is created through every interaction you have with your attendees. For your event to be a success, your attendees need to walk away impressed, engaged, inspired, or motivated — all of which comes from having a stellar event experience.

Designing a memorable event experience starts with identifying the needs of everyone involved. The focus should be on your attendees, but you also need to think about the needs of your sponsors, exhibitors, and media partners too.

Once you’ve figured out what everyone wants, needs, and expects from your event, the next step is to build an event plan around this. Find a way to match your corporate goals with your plans to create a memorable experience for your guests.

Delivering a memorable event experience for physical events is relatively straightforward because there are so many ways to interact with your attendees — from the registration desk to post-event dinners and fireside chats. Exhibitors and sponsors also get the opportunity to interact with customers in an environment where they enjoy customers’ undivided attention.

At an in-person event, your focus is completely on what’s happening in front of you. There are fewer distractions to contend with — no checking emails in another tab, or dipping in and out to work on household tasks. This makes it challenging to translate that memorable event experience to the virtual world.

While customers can look at and touch products at an exhibitor stand in real life, they can’t do that in a virtual space. It’s also harder to make small talk or strike up a friendly chat with someone as they pass by.

To make up for that lack of physical interaction, it’s important to optimize your virtual event for experience and atmosphere. You can also include experiential elements to help your speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors benefit from better engagement — and your guests from a more immersive attendee experience.

Hosting Experiential Events in a Virtual Space

One of the biggest challenges companies face is trying to bring experiential events into the digital space. Experiential events rely on being able to create an impressive, immersive environment where attendees can interact with your product, service, or brand. That’s harder to do in a virtual world.

Hosting an experiential event can bring customers and potential customers closer to your brand. It can also give people a chance to get a once in a lifetime moment — like IKEA’s big sleepover where customers could stay over for the night. It’s something exciting and different.

Translating experiential events to a virtual space takes some creativity and dedication. You can’t create a physical space for your guests to interact with your product, but you can create something interesting and engaging with a virtual breakout room or conference space.

Choose an event platform or virtual event app that gives you plenty of ways to customize the space. Use this as an opportunity to create an immersive experience — with lots of ways for attendees to engage with you and the environment around them. Think moving video banners, an interactive front desk, and on-demand presentations at the click of a button.

For an easy way to create that experiential event moment in a virtual space, look for things that naturally translate well. You could set up a brand-hosted roundtable and invite attendees to join you to discuss a hot topic, or you could introduce a digital space where guests can interact with a product demo.

Experiential event moments can also be a fun way to introduce something a little different into your virtual event. Create a breakout space with a trivia quiz or game show experience that people can use as a refresher between seminars, or set up a virtual space where guests can challenge each other in an online game to win exclusive event merch or ticket upgrades.

While experiential events naturally feel more at home when you can stand in the room and experience them for yourself, they’re still a useful addition to virtual or hybrid events. Try and work some immersive elements into your event design to help promote attendee engagement and satisfaction.

6 Ways To Optimize Your Virtual Event Experiences

A man holds his phone to sign into a virtual event experience

Once you’ve figured out the key virtual event management challenges like how to build awareness, you’re free to focus on optimizing your event experience.

Here are six ways for event organizers to create impressive event experiences that are optimized for digital platforms.

1. Give People a Taste of What to Expect

Most people know how a traditional, live event works. They show up, head to the reception desk, then navigate their way around based on which talks they’re most interested in or who they want to meet. If they’re unfamiliar with virtual events or the event platform you’ve chosen, there will be a natural barrier when they first bring up your event.

By giving people an early look at your event platform, they can explore the space and figure out how everything works before the big day. Let them walk through the empty event space, or send them a link to a sample event that runs on the same platform. Give people a taste of what to expect and how to navigate your virtual conference or event.

With attendees having some familiarity, you’re removing initial challenges or frustrations. They’re no longer asking “Will I like this?” or “How does it work?,” but are instead ready to jump straight in, register, and explore when your event goes live.

2. Choose Your Digital Properties Carefully

Not all event platforms are created equal. This means you’ll need to put some thought into choosing one that helps you create amazing event experiences.

Before you make a decision, research different options for event technology. Compare their features, and the pros and cons of each tool. Think about whether it has what you need to create immersive seminars, roundtables, demo rooms, virtual booths, networking lounges, and other spaces that you’re hoping to host.

Another consideration is how easy the event platform is to use. Think about your audience and how tech savvy they are or aren’t. You might find a virtual event tool that’s really immersive, but if your audience would struggle to understand it, they’ll get frustrated and won’t engage with it.

Make the most of demos and free trials to understand how the platform works from your attendees’ perspective. Consider how easy it is to register, log in, update your profile, move around the digital space, play videos, and interact with different elements.

One of the great things to come from the move to virtual or hybrid events is that they’re often more accessible to a wider group of people. While buildings can be physically inaccessible to many due to structure, access, or location, your virtual event doesn’t have those limitations — but it can have others. As you design your virtual event, consider accessibility areas like font choices, colors, sizes, and integrations with accessibility software.

With the right digital event platform to support you, it’s easier to create a memorable event experience for your guests. They can navigate around with ease and interact with your exhibitors, sponsors, and other stakeholders — creating a win for everyone.

3. Give Your Attendees Plenty of Ways to Interact With Other People

Sometimes a virtual event is just one long talk or a livestream that you can tune into. However, the most effective virtual events give your audience a way to engage with the people around them.

If the only thing your attendees can do is watch presentations or flip through product brochures, they’re going to end up feeling bored and unsatisfied. You need to create ways for your guests to interact with others — whether that’s your speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, or other attendees. Make sure that the platform you choose and the way you plan your event gives you plenty of opportunities to make this happen.

Create breakout spaces where people can live chat with others between sessions, like they’d do over lunch at an in-person event. Add polls and interactive elements to talks and workshops. Build a Q&A session or fireside chat into your schedule so guests can ask questions and get involved in the conversation. Set up virtual booths where people can book one-on-one text or video calls with exhibitors to better understand their offer. It’s all about creating opportunities for people to engage, so they feel more immersed in the event experience.

4. Don’t Compromise on the Event Production Value

According to a Markletic survey, bad internet connectivity, unstable audio, messy backgrounds, and pixelated video quality are the main annoyances of virtual event attendees. Don’t be that event that people want to engage with, but can’t. Prioritize event production value to create a standout event experience.

Brief your speakers and check in with everyone to make sure they have the right equipment and event tech, and that it’s working perfectly. Think about what they’ll need to deliver a quality talk — items like a high-quality camera, streaming mic, lighting setup, and clean background go a long way toward helping your event stand out as one that’s worth attending. Test speakers' connection speed, too, to make sure it’s strong enough to prevent any delays or interruptions.

Offer plenty of support to your speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors throughout the event. Technical problems happen even if you’re well prepared, and having someone ready to help can put your keynote speakers at ease.

Your event support staff can also help keep your audience interested and engaged if something does go wrong, and provide a useful go-between to share updates on what’s happening. All this helps contribute to a positive event experience for not only your guests but your partners too.

5. Gamify the Attendee Event Experience

A recent study by event hosting and gamification platform, Intrado, found that there was a 472% increase in audience engagement at virtual events and a 995% increase in the number of games played on their platform in 2020. This suggests there’s lots of room for lead nurturing, monetization, and sponsorships when you gamify your event experience.

Gamification involves rewarding your attendees for the actions they take at your virtual business event. They could earn tokens or points for taking part in a real-time Q&A session, promoting the event on social media, answering polls in your seminars, or visiting exhibitor booths. People end up feeling more motivated to explore and engage with what’s going on — especially if they can cash in their tokens or points for something that matters to them.

Brands that deploy gamification on virtual event platforms can drive more traffic to sponsor booths, increase session attendance, create more networking opportunities, and improve the customer experience.

6. Provide Friendly Networking Opportunities

A woman holds a cup of coffee representing a virtual coffee event experience

One of the biggest gripes about virtual events is the lack of networking opportunities. Unlike physical events, people can’t go around the conference venue to strike up conversations, exchange cards, and make new connections with the people around them.

Help create a more social event experience for your attendees by making these networking opportunities happen. Create dedicated virtual spaces for networking, or host a speed networking session where people can quickly get to know each other over five-minute chats. Choose a platform that makes networking and collecting virtual business cards easy so there’s no awkwardly noting down someone’s email address — they can simply add someone they meet to a virtual address book.

Once you’ve found a way to integrate networking into your virtual event, make it even more fun by offering a way for people to enjoy coffee, drinks, or lunch together. With Hoppier, you can give your guests a way to connect over lunch or a coffee break from the comfort of their own home — all they need to do is order their favorite drink or snack, pay for it with their Hoppier virtual card, then catch up in your digital space.

Create Fun Event Experiences for Your Virtual Attendees

It’s easy for virtual events to end up feeling similar. There are talks, presentations, and virtual rooms to explore. To help your event stand out, bring Hoppier on board to introduce fun new ways for your attendees to feel immersed in the experience.

Hoppier makes it easy for you to facilitate drinks, snacks, and lunch for your event guests. Send a digital Hoppier card to your attendees, and they’ll be able to use it to order food and drinks from local vendors to enjoy as they take part in your virtual event.

Easy To Set Up and Customize

With Hoppier, it’s simple to distribute digital cards with lunch funds. All you need to do is create an account or log in, then set up your event program.

Program set up for an event experience that provides food and drinks by sending virtual credit cards to your guest

Give your program a name and add a fun icon to help you find it in your dashboard. Customize your card with your company logo and colors to keep everything on brand. Decide on your program balance and set time limits when attendees can use the fund (or leave the timeline open so guests can spend the balance when they please).

A branded virtual credit card that can be sent out to support your event experience

When you’re ready to send out your digital cards, all you need to do is import your contacts and send a friendly email their way. You could include this in your pre-event communication, so everything’s ready for the big day and your guests can grab a coffee at the start of the event.

An Improved Event Experience For Your Attendees

Attending a virtual event can be fun, but it lacks some of the atmosphere of in-person events. It’s much harder to have those natural conversations when you’re not face to face.

Hoppier helps you bridge that gap, by encouraging your guests to grab a coffee and socialize in your digital space instead. They don’t have to brew coffee at home or fix a sandwich for lunch — they can enjoy an event catering experience at home, thanks to local delivery partners and vendors.

Event Experiences Your Guests Will Rave About

In today’s remote work environment and virtual events industry, Zoom burnout is real. Avoid that virtual event fatigue and set your event apart by optimizing it for experience and atmosphere.

Think about how you can transform yet another virtual conference or event into a can't-miss experience for your guests. Choose your platform carefully, create spaces for engagement and conversation, and think about how you can bring experiential events to life virtually.

If you’re ready to make your event experience even more fun, book a free 30 minute demo with our team. Find out how Hoppier can help you make those digital networking events feel more real by providing your attendees with digital credit cards they can spend on coffee, snacks, or lunch.

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