21 Engaging Virtual Conference Ideas

Cassy Aite
December 22, 2023
21 Engaging Virtual Conference Ideas

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.

How the Right Virtual Conference Idea Increases Engagement

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? Engaging virtual conference ideas that provide content and experiences to eliminate the tedious and mundane, provide rewards, and keep your audience on their toes.

Engaging experiences are a must-have, but making your event content as exciting as an in-person event is challenging. 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 an evaluating metric for event planners. Around 80% 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 is the core focus.

Boost Virtual Conference Engagement With Refreshments

Woman contently holding a ceramic cup with her eyes closed

Who 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 a fruitful (get it?) 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. Or 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 — 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.

Pro Tip: If you’re holding conferences somewhat regularly, virtual bulk gift cards can save you time, turning multiple purchases into a single one — and it’s a great virtual event idea as well.

Engage Event Attendees With Entertainment

Even in a remote setting, human connection is vital. It’s that interaction that fosters engagement between attendees.

At a virtual conference or even a virtual meeting, one of the best ways to do this is to bring people together through entertainment. Try some of these entertaining virtual conference ideas:

  • Use a live poll to choose a film, watch it with other attendees, and then host a chat room afterward.
  • Host a trivia quiz over lunch and give away incredible prizes to the top teams on the leaderboard.
  • Create a virtual dance studio and invite people to a dance contest during your lunch break.
  • Set up a virtual photo booth and encourage people to take images with virtual backgrounds and props and share photos on Instagram with your virtual conference hashtag.
  • Start a live stream of a band playing before the event kicks off, or just before you all enjoy a virtual happy hour.
  • Play moderator and put together an icebreaker session to kick off your virtual conference/corporate event.

Many things translate well into a virtual space— all you need is the right integration, plenty of enthusiasm, and a great supporting cast of workers.

Pro Tip: To keep your attendees in the loop — and if you have the budget — consider a simple mobile event app that provides notifications as part of your virtual conference ideas.

Gifts and Experiences: 21 Virtual Conference Ideas To Engage Attendees in Any Niche

Excited woman in a white sweater in front of a pink background

Food, drink, and entertainment should be staples on your list if you want to host a highly engaging virtual conference. But it doesn’t stop there. You can do so much more 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, virtual event bag, or swag to match, or make your 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 virtual conference ideas for different niches. And don’t forget to discuss 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. To continue that theme throughout, try a few of these virtual conference ideas on for size.

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 presenter so you can give the course to everyone or offer a discount code instead if you’re on a budget.

2. Audiobook Credits

So many incredible books offer insightful information 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 a post-event party 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 or a similar platform.

6. Virtual networking session

Another great virtual conference idea is to set up a fun virtual environment where people can enjoy networking opportunities together. Speed networking, small talk over coffee, or 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

Education is a dynamic field that’s always changing. Use these virtual conference ideas to help your attendees 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, staying on top of your skills is essential. 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

Scheduled or pre-recorded webinars aren’t always the best medium for a virtual conference. As an engaging alternative, 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 on 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 live 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 educational professionals. 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

Woman in a yellow sweater listening to music on headphones

With so many marketing conferences happening in 2022, standing out proves difficult. 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 an ideas industry, and inspiration is the catalyst for brilliant campaigns — 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 Challenges

Games are one of the most effective methods to engage your audience at virtual conferences. That’s what makes gamification a stellar virtual conference idea.

Invite your attendees to battle in a word game challenge and incentivize attendance with prizes individually or as teams. Ideal for copywriting or content marketing, these games are also a crowd-pleaser for general marketing events.

Tech Conferences

The tech industry moves at top speed, which means fresh ways to engage your audience are plentiful. 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 as 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

Nothing is better than experiencing a product for yourself. If you have 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 devise practical ways to build something great. This is a particularly 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

Even if you’re not thinking of switching providers right away, testing new HR platforms can provide modern solutions to HR-based problems. 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 live stream 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 Online Business Courses

You never stop learning in the world of business. New ideas, tools, and techniques make a bigger impact on your career or company with every learning experience.

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.

21. Virtual Happy Hour

Reward your guests with a laid-back event experience at the end of your conference day courtesy of 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 homes.

Add onto These Virtual Conference Ideas With Gift Cards From Hoppier

No matter what the subject matter or industry, embrace your creativity and bring engaging experiences to your virtual conference by brainstorming virtual conference ideas and partnering with Hoppier.

Hoppier’s virtual credit cards allow you to bring catering, entertainment, experiences, and corporate gifts to a truly global audience. The 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.

Hoppier Virtual Conference Gift Card

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 cards 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 — giving your virtual conference something extra that’s sure to be remembered.

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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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