We specialize in creating events for professionals, so they can socialize, network and learn from keynote speakers and each other. For one of our clients, we wanted to expand our community outreach beyond in-person events. We found some members do not have access to in-person events. They were time-crunched and unable to get away from the office, or they didn’t want to be forced to socialize. Also, we have a worldwide audience, with thousands of members in different nations. An in-person event wasn’t conducive to a vast majority of our audience.
This challenge inspired us to create a virtual event experiences for our clients to meet their members where they are. The goal of our online virtual events is to provide cutting-edge information while connecting our members to each other and our sponsors through action-packed sessions, networking, and chatrooms.
Building effective virtual programs drive value for members worldwide, provides cost-effective means for engagement, and creates a unique forum for networking and learning. For all of its positives, a common mistake in planning virtual programs is limiting the vision of the event to the application’s essential functions, which creates a bland experience. We wanted our members to log into a virtual reality that mimics real-life community events. Our Virtual Programs Manager, Candice Davis, is an integral part of making an interactive experience for our clients.
“The goal for me is to make it real and to think beyond the tool. I approach virtual event planning like someone does an in-person event – considering the experience we want attendees to have from the moment they register to the moment they leave. Creating the experience involves making the aesthetics of the event as important as the content and resources. At an event in December, attendees entered a virtual ‘winter wonderland’ lobby, avatars, and doorways leading to various locations within the virtual environment. Upon entering the event, attendees knew where and how to connect,” says Davis.
By giving an extra effort to make our virtual event environments come to life, organizations can provide members what they want – connections, content, engagement and a real event experience – all without leaving the office.
The feedback from our sponsors and clients have been overwhelmingly positive. As so much of our industry, and the world at large, continues to become more virtualized, people still crave connection. Barriers to communication, especially for the introverted, are easily broken down in an individualized environment like this – they are both a part of something bigger than themselves, and able to navigate it independently and individually. Conversations between sponsors and attendees are full of value, motivation, and meaning for both parties, building a close-knit relationship. Also, the addition of adding gamification to virtual environments has proven to be very successful.
Leveraging virtual event technology to curate content and help members forge connections has proven to be very powerful. Over the past year, attendance growth with our VMUG client has increased by 44 percent with over 5,500 participants across three virtual events.
If you want to expend your events beyond face-to-face conferences and engage more of your members where they are, contact us and we’ll help you get on the right track.