If there’s one buzzword dominating the back-to-work narrative this autumn, it’s ‘hybrid working’ - a concept that encapsulates a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to professional life. So it’s hardly surprising that 67% of businesses report that they’ll be running both in-person and online events for the foreseeable future. When it comes to delivering impactful business events, going virtual is very much still in vogue.
Fortunately, driven by necessity and by high demand, the technology for delivering and attending virtual events has improved dramatically since the start of 2020. Innovation in this space has helped multiply the benefits for organisers: from increasing capacity exponentially and improving accessibility, to slashing costs and risk.
If you’re considering migrating your next business event to a VR platform, or if you’d like to know how to make a bigger impact with your next VR event, read on for expert advice from Virti’s experienced team.
Don’t rush to replicate the events of old
VR provides the opportunity to completely reimagine your event setup. Far from merely mimicking reality, you can enhance it by creating a virtual environment free from the usual time, location and budget constraints posed by in-person events.
So, it’s important to embrace the blank canvas, be imaginative and have some fun! You might choose to shorten the event, or have multiple activities and talks occurring simultaneously which participants can freely move between within the virtual space. Having removed the need to travel, you can still deliver your guests some of the excitement of visiting somewhere new: your event can be virtually ‘located’ anywhere in the world (or universe!).
Within your virtual space you can also provide a wider range of activities to be performed virtually - from training staff on new equipment to role playing new models of working - without the usual cost or need for resources. Creating a unique, immersive event, which offers participants something new, will ultimately increase engagement and boost the event's success.
Take the chance to really showcase your company
An important question to ask when planning your virtual event is: what does it allow you to showcase? The creative freedom offered by VR software vastly extends the ways in which you can present your product and share company mission.
You could use it as a unique marketing opportunity by offering virtual product demonstrations. Immersing participants in a simulation within which they can ‘use’ the product for themselves is a cost-effective way of advertising your product, receiving feedback and attracting new clients. For example, surgeons could experience using a new tool on a virtual patient, building confidence in its use and consequently increasing the chance of adoption. Or, clients could virtually test-drive a new vehicle, experiencing new and exciting features for themselves from the comfort of their own home.
Your company culture, values and mission can also be more clearly showcased throughout a virtual event space. From the virtual location in which you choose to hold it to the activities and virtual amenities you provide, you have control over the atmosphere. So, don’t forget to visually brand the virtual space, just as you would a physical space!
VR gives the potential for you to present your company in whichever way you choose, so don’t miss the opportunity to showcase it at its best. If you’re looking for a fun way to communicate some of your company’s core messaging, why not build a themed game zone, where participants can unwind and informally network whilst playing multiplayer games in VR?
Focus on improving accessibility
Increased accessibility is one of the greatest advantages of hosting a virtual event. Through VR platforms like Virti, simulations can be accessed on mobile and desktop devices, as well as designated headsets. So, participants can join from absolutely anywhere. Gone are the costs of travel, difficulty fitting the event into busy schedules and barriers to access for those with certain health conditions or disabilities.
Offering some form of post-event access is also a must, whether that’s sharing recorded sessions or keeping certain parts of the platform online for an extended period. This will mean you can gain the maximum benefit from the event, reaching the largest possible audience. Even those who are present will gain a fuller experience if they can return to the event space later to catch up on what they missed.
Gather powerful data
It’s important to not only consider what a virtual event will allow you to do, but also what it will allow you, as an organiser, to learn.
To easily gather and analyse information that can be used to improve future events, you’ll need to use an events platform that has integrated data and feedback analytics.
On Virti’s event platform, subjective audience engagement and sentiment measures are transformed into objective data by AI. These unique data points can be used to strategically iterate various aspects of the event and to observe the impact.
Bring people together
Finally, and importantly, the turn towards virtual events should not come at the expense of making meaningful social connections. In fact, the opposite can be true. Because more people can attend VR events, there are many more opportunities for attendees to expand their local and global networks.
So, rich opportunities for interaction and communication must be carefully planned into your virtual event design. You’ll need to make sure that you schedule time for informal conversations, build spaces for breakouts, include group chat functions with customisable avatars, and plan social activities like the ever-popular virtual quiz.
Virtual events offer a unique opportunity to combine the engaging and interactive features of in-person meetings with the cost-effectiveness and accessibility of an online platform. By following these simple steps in creating your virtual event, you can harness the power of VR to add value and elevate the experience for all attendees.