Virtual events saw a dramatic increase in 2020 as the world found new ways to stay connected remotely. However, a year on and their popularity isn’t decreasing.
Incredibly, 93% of marketers are planning to continue investing in virtual events moving forward. And while the majority of virtual events are successful, some fall short of the mark without proper planning and a clear focus on audience interactivity.
To prevent that from happening to your business, we’ve compiled this list of virtual event ideas you can use in 2021 and beyond.
Whether your objectives are to build better teams, cement a new deal, or network with potential prospects, we’ve got five great ideas to make your virtual event a standout experience for your guests, and an additional 5 tips to help you truly make it a success.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is an activity that takes place entirely online so that guests can attend the event from anywhere in the world, including their office, their home, or any other location. All that is needed to participate is access to the internet.
Guests interact, network and collaborate using the video call functionalities built into their chosen platform (e.g. Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams), which as standard include webcam, audio, live chat and direct message features, all of which are there to enable participants to communicate just like if they were face to face.
The 5 best virtual event ideas for 2021
Virtual Wine Tasting
A Virtual wine tasting is a highly popular event type for corporate clients and teams. Wine tasting for some may well be associated with vineyards and barrel-laden tasting rooms, but they are now effective tools for interactive and engaging virtual tasting experiences.
Virtual wine tastings can work by liaising with a host or sommelier to choose wines. Alternatively, some wine tasting events (like ours, as standard) are performed entirely blind to create higher levels of engagement, participation and interaction between guests.
During a tasting event multiple wines will be tasted, and guests learn how to judge and assess a wine like a professional.
Virtual Magic Shows
Virtual Magic Shows are performed live and virtually, and again an experienced provider should be able to deliver through a platform of your choice.
Virtual magic shows can be highly unique experiences and should provide fantastic entertainment for team or client events – especially if the show emphasises the importance of audience interaction with the magician.
Magic shows can consist of card tricks, mind reading, guessing games or a combination of both. Often the USP of such experiences is that instead of just watching a show, guests actively get to take part and share experiences – strengthening team and client relationships.
Virtual Chocolate Making (and Tasting!)
If there’s one way to deepen relationships and promote bonds, it’s through a shared love of chocolate.
Virtual chocolate making (and the very important tasting) is one virtual event which can strengthen group dynamics. It also helps that such events cater for non drinkers, and for those with dietary requirements (e.g. vegans, gluten intolerant participants etc), although please always check with your provider here.
Virtual chocolate making and tasting events may consist of a fast paced introductory tutorial, an analysis of a flight of fine chocolates (to decipher cocoa strengths and infusions for instance) and a chocolate truffle making stage where guests make their own truffles (this can happen either before or during the event).
No, not quite the Taboo you’re thinking! This virtual event idea revolves around Taboo the board game, invented by the Parker brothers in 1989.
The idea of the game is to describe either one or more concepts or words, but with limited parameters. Participants cannot say the word, nor can they use related words.
On a business level, a virtual Taboo night works for both team building activities and even client nurturing. Because the game revolves entirely around communication, it’s a good opportunity for some participants to reflect on why perhaps their emails are never understood, or to work on how best to express themselves to others.
Similarly, it’s a great client event experience because it promotes collaboration. Clients and companies can get a good idea of how each other communicates, which can strengthen relationships – especially if it turns out that they work well together as a team!
Virtual Fine Food Tasting
Just like virtual chocolate making & tasting events, a virtual fine food tasting is bound to strike up bonds between team members, companies and clients through a shared love of good food.
Virtual fine food tasting events at their best blend gastronomy and entertainment to deliver a unique and memorable experience.
Virtual fine food tasting events may run on a round based structure, with rounds including food groups such as artisan cheeses, olive oils,, chocolates and even honey!
These events are based around a very simple premise – everyone eats! Unlike virtual cookery events they are not reliant on dexterity in the kitchen or an interest in cooking – they are accessible to all.
The 5 Best Ideas to Make Your Event a Success
Whilst the above are fantastic event ideas, we’ve compiled a quick list of tips which can also help companies to ensure that their event runs smoothly from start to finish.
Get to know your event platform
Virtual events rely heavily on two things: the internet and technology. That means that if guests are struggling to understand or use your event platform, your event is likely to bring frustration instead of fun.
To prevent any instances of guests struggling to use the platform, ensure that either you, your team, or supplier is fully familiar with it so that your audience’s journey is completely understood (this may involve training). Where relevant guides can be created for external attendees and any guest speakers or exhibitors. With proper planning and platform familiarisation in advance, any sudden problems in the actual event should be easily solved.
There’s another upside to learning your platform too: boosting your event ROI. Customisation is an important part of building the immersion to any event, so without training (or an awareness of the platform’s capabilities) you may fail to properly utilise key features which could make all the difference when it comes to achieving your event’s objectives.
Give guests (and hosts) a warm welcome
During a virtual event, your chosen software platform becomes your venue. On arrival, just like in real life (when the carpet is rolled out and the canapes are on show), give your guests as good a welcome virtually as they’d have in person.
Ensure that your platform is set up to be welcoming and gives your guests and any external exhibitors or hosts a feeling of control. Where suitable customise notification features and chat options for guests and hosts, and set up home pages and tabs in a way that makes their user experience as seamless as possible.
Try to think of ways to make each of your participants feel welcome. For example, if you’re inviting clients from different time zones, you could ensure the platform automatically changes the timestamps in accordance with the location of a guest.
Give guests breathing room
Depending on the objectives of your event (client nurturing, signing a deal, team building), the chances are that for longer events (2 hours+) your audience may need a break.
To that end make sure you leave space for coffee, lunch and comfort breaks as well as (if needed) some breathing room before and after sessions.
Not only will you improve the experience for your attendees, you’ll also show you’ve thought through the process and presented a professional image.
Ensure there are audience engagement features
It may seem a basic component, but you’d be surprised as to how many times audience engagement features are overlooked at virtual events.
The purpose of any virtual event is, in no small part, to capture the attention of an audience. There is also a requirement to achieve an objective, whether that’s teambuilding, creating better client relationships, or something else. To do this, you need audience engagement features that allow audiences a chance to interact.
Important features to keep in mind: live discussions, where guests can create natural and authentic connections by asking questions, or polls, where speakers can actively ask questions to guests to better structure the content of their event. Always look for other live chat features that give audience members a chance to interact with not only one another, but with the hosts themselves.
Looking to host a virtual event?
Let us help. At the Tasting Quarter we’ve been running successful tasting events since 2002. Whether it’s in-person, virtual or hybrid, we’ve got a number of dynamic, interactive and audience-captivating experiences led by experienced hosts that can help to make your event a resounding success. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.