How to Use Virtual Technology to Enhance Your Live Event

Over the last 18 months most of us have attended a virtual meeting – whether it was just a Zoom or Team catch up with colleagues and clients, or a fully virtual conference and exhibition using one of the many virtual platforms.

Using Virtual Tech at Your In-Person Event

This huge demand has driven a period of accelerated development in events technology.  Now that we can meet in person there is no reason to forget these great strides. Virtual software can be used to enhance live events and increase the number of delegates that can attend and have access to your content:

  • No longer do you have to limit numbers to the capacity of the venue. Pick the venue that meets your budget or requirements.  Offer both in person and virtual places then you can accommodate all that want to attend.
  • Travel restrictions may remain in place for some countries for a while, but these delegates can still attend virtually. Restriction rules can change at the last minute and if you have already built a virtual element into your event it is easy to pivot.
  • Having a virtual element prolongs the life span of your content. You can sell, rewatch or catch-up, tickets for the different elements of your events.
  • It makes your events more attractive to clients with a limited budget. They can attend just one day of a 2-day event and watch the other day virtually.  Companies can send one delegate to the live event and others to the virtual. This will avoid overnight accommodation and dinner costs.
  • Event Apps can link the virtual and in-person delegates and even allow them to network.

I have already written on how virtual platforms can help you make your event more sustainable.  People don’t have to travel they can join virtually.  You can even link venues in each country with the technology.

Recent Project

With our event partners TR Global Events, HotelRes recently worked on a series of events that utilised a virtual events platform. We managed and built the virtual element using ReAttendance. It was a famous competition with several different rounds: Miss England.  But it could just as easily have been a series of training courses or seminars.

The “in person” event took place at the end of August.  There were 300 guests at the Grand Final in a venue in the Midlands, however there were a further 500 who watched the whole evening on the virtual platform.  The rounds that took place in June, July and early August were all ran as virtual only events.  They all consisted of a mixture of pre-recorded content and live judging and interviews.

Using the virtual platform, we were able to create a “Miss England Club” – people who bought tickets were able to vote for their favourite contestant, watch bonus content and interviews, enter competitions, and get special offers from sponsors/exhibitors, as well as watching all the rounds.

  • We sold different types of tickets to the virtual platform: A premium ticket that gave the delegate access to all the rounds and additional bonus content; we then sold tickets to the individual virtual rounds and the Grand final only.
  • In person delegates at the Grand Final could also buy enhanced tickets that includes the virtual platform, meaning they could watch all the preliminary rounds and re-watch the grand final and the bonus virtual interviews that were streamed on the night.
  • All the contestant and event sponsors had exhibition stands that were live from when the platform opened in May. Each exhibitor had access to their own stand and could add or change the content over the 3 months the event was live.
  • We were able to sell additional sponsorship slots at the beginning and end of each of the streamed rounds.

Create a Virtual Club for Your Delegates

This blueprint can be used effectively for many types of events.  If you normally record your events or have a stage then it doesn’t need to cost you much more, but it can give you content that can be watched from anywhere and at any time. Your virtual event can be live for a year or more.  To create a “Virtual Club” is easy.  You can allow delegates access to all or just some of the content.  Downloadable documents can be added to the platform; as well as bonus material and additional sponsors.

If your events generate income then you can sell tickets for the live event, virtual event, and post event.  If you have a number of linked events, you can have delegates join you live or virtually, they can pick and choose what suites them best.

Different Platforms

There are so many different virtual platforms. Some that really do manage your whole event for you, both virtual elements and in person.

  • They create your event website.
  • Provide you with a delegate event app.
  • Manage your attendees.
  • Help you market your tickets.
  • Host your virtual and streamed content.
  • Allow you to have virtual sponsors and exhibitors
  • Provide you with detailed post event data.

With these platforms you do not need separate event management software.  But they can be expensive for one off events they can often cost £10,000-£20,000 per event.

However if you want to test the water with virtual platforms there are some very good stand alone platforms.  This is particularly relevant if you already use your own event management software.  They simply host your virtual content, allow you to stream to your virtual delegates, have space for virtual sponsors and exhibitors.  It is still possible to allocate different levels of access to different ticket holders.  They can actually be quite good value, from as little as £500 for a single event.

HotelRes has been working with a number of the different platform providers.  We can help you if you are thinking of adding a virtual element to your in person event.

Read our connected article on linking multiple sites for a conference using technogy.