With the current COVID pandemic, setting up events is greatly compromised. As a third of the world population was confined between February and May 2020, event organizers found themselves in a situation where they literally could not do their job and Event Marketing plummeted. Today, even though Europe is progressively lifting containment measures, it is probable that events will never look the same.

Health measures and social distancing, as well as home working, are here now and they will probably stay with us for a long time. Considering this new reality, it is time to fully embrace digital events. The question is how do you actually take your event digital? How do you set it up? How do you promote it? How do you create a networking experience?

In order to answer those questions in the most efficient way, Sortlist decided to partner with OFCORES, a Belgian agency specialized in Event Creation and Event Marketing. Caroline Hundhausen, Communication Specialist at OFCORES, wrote a series of 3 articles regarding the digitalisation of events, in order for you to have all the basics necessary for your own project. Enjoy!

Table of Content

Introduction

Due to travel restrictions, health measures and widespread home-officing, it’s time to embrace digital events. OFCORES can provide you with easy-to-use virtual engagement platforms to continue to deliver quality event experiences to participants online. You must know that every event has different goals and that we work with each client to devise solutions tailored to their needs.

According to us, here are the benefits of organizing Digital Events:

  • More accessible
  • Increased attendance
  • Better retention rates
  • Open doors to endless virtual experiences 
  • Deliver economic and environmental benefits over more traditional event forms

And here are some examples of how to re-envision your event in a digital format:

  • Breakouts to virtual roundtables
  • Live networking to 1:1 virtual meet-ups
  • Keynotes to livestreams
  • Coffee breaks to game opportunities
  • Exhibitions to 3D virtual reality tours
  • Sessions and panels conducted in a professional TV-like studio presentation format

We leverage various technology and social platforms to effectively bring your brand to life and strengthen audience engagement and inclusiveness. 

Below, discover more about the different types of digital event formats. 

Virtual Events

A virtual event is one where attendees experience the content wholly online rather than by gathering in person.

For example, virtual conferences take place live around detailed agendas, which include keynote presentations and breakout sessions. 

From an attendee perspective, an online event platform offers maximum flexibility and many advantages. Registrants access all event information on the virtual event page, including the program, session details, directories, 1:1 meeting scheduling, and more. They have the ability to customise their event itinerary and the information they review. 

Virtual event platforms use community engagement tools like digital libraries, supplemental audio/video content, live Q&A, live polling, chat, interactive video networking meetings, mobile apps and more. Content for these events is flexible and can be produced live, on-demand or as a mix.

Online event platforms seamlessly integrate with registration systems, automatically capturing significant event data. This data can be used to measure and improve event performance in real time through quantifying unique site visitors, views, questions, content downloads, attendance, posts and shares, and more.

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Hybrid Events

A hybrid event combines live, in-person attendance with digital, online attendance components.

For example, a business conference that hosts an in-person gathering of 20-100 people in Brussels and livestreams its keynotes and sessions to a worldwide virtual audience is a hybrid event.

Hybrid events still introduce the energy of a live audience and maintain an easier flow in conducting in-person panel discussions for speakers, while reaching a much wider audience than in-person only events. Like all virtual events, hybrid events also capture useful event data, allow a flexible event experience for online attendees, and reduce travel, cost and accessibility barriers to attendance.

The return on investment for the hybrid event is increased even more when virtual access tickets are sold at a lower rate to those who cannot attend in person, as well as when session recordings are repurposed for use in future marketing activities.

Virtual Reality or 3D Events

Virtual reality (VR) is a completely computer-generated environment. Organisers must create a computerized event space to host a VR event. Attendees wear VR headsets that pair with an event planning software when they interact in this event world. This allows them to experience the event space as if they were really there. Each attendee is usually represented by an avatar, which allows them to interact with other participants and move through the 360° and 3D immersive event realistically. 

While less immersive, a 3D event does not require a VR headset. Such events are also created by developing a computerized event space and generating avatars for participants, but a 3D event takes place on the computer screen. 3D events are therefore more engaging than a video livestream, but they do not go so far as to make viewers feel like they are physically in the room, as with a VR headset.

VR and 3D events elevate the remote event participant experience by allowing attendees to navigate a real event space as avatars and interact more realistically with others. In such an environment, participants are less tempted by external distractions and engage better with the event.

Conclusion

While this article focused on the different kinds of digital events your company can set up, this is only one part of a digital event creation. In our next article, you will learn how to market your event in order to reach your attendance goal.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with OFCORES about hosting a virtual, hybrid, VR or other online event. We’ll help you reach your audience with experiences that are impactful – wherever your attendees are.