From IRL to URL: Venturing into Virtual EventsBy HOPP Team
From IRL to URL: Venturing into Virtual Events
With the widespread cancellation of events, there’s no denying that social distancing measures have turned the events industry upside down – but they’ve also opened up a revolutionary opportunity for it to evolve to a whole new level, specifically, a virtual one.
While meeting one another IRL (in real life) may be temporarily cancelled, our desire to connect with friends and loved ones definitely isn’t. If anything, this time of uncertainty, isolation and – let’s face it – boredom has only strengthened our want to do something more exciting than baking banana bread or picking up knitting needles. People are looking for new ways of entertaining themselves and connecting with others virtually, and they’re looking to the events world to help them do just that.
From organising after-school clubs and virtual discos for kids (such as those hosted by Sharky & George) or facilitating jaw-dropping magician and performance artist acts online (as Blank Canvas are doing), we’ve been blown away by the suppliers in our community who are innovating their services to be there for customers in whole new ways. So, if you’re thinking about taking your event business into the virtual space, here’s some HOPP Tips to consider!
Keeping It Real
Customers come to you for your craft and expertise, and that doesn’t change when you go digital. It’s important to adapt services, but it’s probably not a good idea to reinvent them completely. You wouldn’t go to your doctor for an MOT, and you wouldn’t turn to a cocktail company for advice on creating beautiful stationery at home. Companies like Mixology Brothers and Chase Distillery are cleverly adapting their services by hosting virtual cocktail making classes and drinks tastings. On the flip side, luxury stationers, Downey & Co are offering packs and tips to encourage children to embrace the lost art of letter writing. Keep in tune with your expertise and you’ll probably find that interest in your digital offering comes much more naturally.
Boosting Your Online Presence
Now more than ever, the online world is overflowing with content so having a strong online presence is incredibly important to ensure that potential customers find you and your work. Posting daily on social media platforms is key, as is keeping your online profiles (including your HOPP profile) updated. Having multiple digital touchpoints where people can discover your business won’t only create a seamless user journey from your profiles to your digital services, but can also help people discover you for future IRL events when lockdown measures are lifted.
Welcoming Larger, More Inclusive Audiences
The virtual world is one of few boundaries and the only key you need to access it is an internet connection. Taking your business online means opening doors to new audiences that you may never have been able to service face-to-face. Whether this means streaming virtual music parties to audiences around the world or hosting live Q&As with experts giving insights that would usually only be shared at industry-exclusive conferences, going digital increases your business’s exposure without substantial costs.
Harnessing the Power of Interaction
The beauty of social media is that it’s a two-way street. Beyond the analytics and data, social media offers amazing tools to get direct feedback from your audience. For example, if you’re hosting a Q&A session on Instagram Live about postponing weddings, think about reaching out to your followers beforehand and inviting them to send in their questions. Instagram has brilliant poll and questionnaire functions which encourage engagement and demonstrate your enthusiasm to connect with your audiences. You’ll also be able to develop a personal rapport with them that can only strengthen your business now and when lockdown is over.
While Apart, Work Together
One thing that’s so special about the events industry is the powerful sense of community we all share. Collaboration between suppliers is such a key part of our business and there’s no reason why this should stop when we’re talking digital. You could consider reaching out to companies that you love and brainstorm ideas for pulling together your services during this time. An added bonus? You’ll offer your existing audiences fresh content and benefit from the exposure on your partnering supplier’s platform.
There’s no doubt that with streets, skies and seas as quiet as they’ve ever been in our lifetime, our natural environment is flourishing. Virtual events take away the need for guests to travel and therefore dramatically reduces the environmental impact of a single event. Being able to facilitate effective virtual events can demonstrate your business’s commitment to sustainability and a conscious effort to minimise your carbon footprint.
Save on Costs
Taking your services online can often be beneficial to independent businesses with growing concerns about their bottom line. Operating in a virtual environment means a reduction in costs such as space hire and transportation, and the budget usually spent in these areas can be set aside for other priorities that may arise during this trying time, or in its aftermath.
Extend the Lifespan of Your Event
Hit that record button! Unlike face-to-face events, digital events are easy to record and repurpose for future use. Recording your events can help to overcome problems you may face with different time zones or scheduling conflicts (surprisingly, although we are all stuck at home, these clashes do still occur!). You could then build a growing library of valuable content for your audience to revisit as and when they please.