Over the past few years, the pandemic pushed events of all sizes online. And yet, even as the world has begun to reopen, virtual conferences and events look as though they’re here to stay. Businesses and attendees alike have come to appreciate the advantages they offer, from lower costs —to higher engagement and broadened accessibility from anywhere in the world in any language at any time.
So, what lies ahead for an events industry that’s already been restructured? Likely, more change and more innovation, or what industry experts are calling hybrid events, which bring together the best virtual conference platforms with in-person experiences.
Imagine an in-person cohort in California, a speaker from Australia, and virtual attendees from Japan—all connected through one seamless platform and all sitting in the same gorgeous venue whether on-site or in a home office. Not only does this hybrid system allow for further reach and personalized enrichment, but it also stands to provide potential savings to T&E budgets worldwide.
And yet, whether you’re planning a virtual conference or a hybrid event, the success of any online program depends on choosing the right virtual conference platform. Below, is a guide to get you started.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PLATFORM?
Virtual conference platforms run the gamut from simple Zoom chats to large-scale gatherings on platforms like On24 and Hoppin, which include capabilities like integrated engagement, free movement in and out of rooms, and live-time data analysis.
Want to raise the bar even further and generate fresh excitement? Consider a fully immersive mixed-media experience, including virtual venues that truly transport your audience into a wow experience.
With all of their unique features, the latest and greatest digital event platforms have one incredible perk in common: Each software suite enables attendees to participate and access event content in new ways from anywhere around the globe.
Of course, creating the perfect virtual event often comes down to selecting the virtual conference platform that best meets your goals and needs.
CREATING AN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE EXPERIENCE
While Google Meets–type platforms may work for some small conferences and gatherings, you’ll need a more sophisticated solution to create a truly immersive experience. Your best bet may be hosting your conference in a virtual venue.
With the magic of great design and artificial intelligence, virtual venues can offer much of the same energy that bubbles up in brick-and-mortar theaters and arenas—with additional, unmistakable advantages.
Virtual event venues are fully customizable to the needs of your company, event, and brand partners. While planning, you’ll be able to select from already created venues or choose to create a bespoke digital twin of a real-life destination.
Either way, every seat is the best one in the house, and every speaker—whether they appear to be presenting from the stage of the Apollo or the biggest arena in town—shines.
The bottom line? A virtual conferencevenue has the power to instantly transform what could be a long, dreary video session into a transporting experience.
Just as you would with an in-person event, you’ll want to make sure that only registrants have access to event content, whether in real time or after the event. This is especially important when sensitive or confidential information may be presented or discussed.
To ensure your virtual event is secure, look for a platform that offers data encryption, SOC2 compliance, and multilevel access controls. These security features are just the tip of a very important iceberg.
A SMART VIDEO PLAYER
The most advanced virtual conference platforms extend far beyond streaming presentations. Rather, they transform every event track into a content experience that can be watched, read, or skimmed wherever and whenever an attendee prefers.
They also offer numerous ways for the audience to interact. Polls, emoji reactions, and real-time Q+A interfaces invite users to give feedback, share input from their own unique experiences, and request more information.
And many platforms offer secure links to collect questions and comments, so that queries can be vetted before being answered in front of a digital crowd.
Of course, the beauty of a virtual or hybrid conference includes the opportunity for worldwide attendance. That said, it’s important to ensure that the experience is just as impactful for registrants of all backgrounds, needs, languages, and locales. With real-time translation and audio-dubbing, AI-backed event platforms will enable every attendee—whether in Portland, Oregon; Provence, France; or Pune, India—to watch and learn from the same events at the same time in virtually any language.
VIRTUAL NETWORKING EVENTS
Of course, in the world of event planning, logistics can be headache-inducing, especially when it comes to coordinating one-on-one meetings among attendees. Some platforms, like Touchcast, offer the ability to book, coordinate, and host all of these meetings on a single central events platform.
Attendees can schedule a time to meet with someone as they would on their calendar, and the meeting is instantly dropped into their event schedule, along with any pre-meeting resources or reading. Trading dozens of emails and PDF schedules? Consider those pains of the past.
Plus, with direct messaging among attendees, chats, and the ability to show when users go on- or off-line during an event, the platform also encourages more relaxed and serendipitous interactions.
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE DATA THAT DRIVES DECISIONS
One of the biggest benefits to virtual events is that you can track their impact and reach in real time. An intelligent platform will help you begin planning and refining future events from the moment your first guest enters the site.
This type of data offers invaluable insights on what programming has the greatest impact and offers key lessons for developing best practices for all of your events going forward.
LEAVE THEM SPELLBOUND
Here’s the bottom line: When you push the envelope and offer an immersive virtual conference experience, attendees from around the world can and will take note.
The future of virtual conference software has arrived. . . . Are you ready to be on the forefront? Connect with the Touchcast team, and we’ll walk you through every cutting-edge concept you’ll need to plan a successful hybrid or virtual event.