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The Event and Marketing Heroes Behind The Forbes Cloud 100

We’re highlighting event marketing professionals behind 2020’s top 100 cloud companies around the world. These are the heroes to watch.

For the 5th consecutive year, Forbes – Along with Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures – has released The Cloud 100 – the top 100 brands that are leading the way in tech. These companies, ranging from startups to huge corporations, come from every industry all over the world. Those who make the list are carefully chosen by CEOs and executives in cloud computing based on valuation and sales, as well as culture and growth. And topping this list is no small feat.

A huge shout-out to the many Bizzabo customers who made the cut!

The Forbes Cloud 100 showcases thought leaders who are at the forefront of technology. The brands featured in the ranking are the organizations powering the evolution and progress of virtually every industry from retail to software. But behind every great organization is even better people, and these are the people who are leading their companies to greatness.

We’re highlighting senior event and marketing professionals whose work has caught our attention. The Cloud 100 Event Marketing Heroes are the leaders to watch as these organizations continue to grow.

Infographic Cloud100@OCT29-min

Join us at Bizzabo’s upcoming (Almost) HYBRID virtual summit for sessions with senior leaders frombrands like IBM, CNBC, and Workhuman for a discussion about the future of events. And happy hours with your peers. RSVP for HYBRID today.

4 Stats That Point to How Events Will Evolve in 2020 and 2021

What will events look like next year? Can we expect in-person events to return? Our recent industry report reveals the answers to these burning questions.

At the beginning of 2020, the events industry, like so many others, was completely blindsided. Companies with a year’s worth of events in their pipeline had to face incredibly difficult decisions about whether to cancel, postpone, or adopt a virtual or hybrid solution for their events.

Fast forward 8 months to October, which is iconically the busy season for events, organizers and marketers have successfully shifted their entire strategy to take their events online. But do they anticipate the triumphant and long-awaited return of live events, or is this new virtual landscape here to stay?

In order to discover what predictions the industry has, we surveyed almost 400 event marketing professionals in mid-senior level positions. We uncovered valuable insights that point to what the future of events will look like.

To get the full scoop on what event marketers anticipate for the rest of 2020 and 2021, download the Evolution of Events Report.

1. More than 80% of marketers agree that greater audience reach is the most positive effect they’ve experienced from their shift to virtual.

There is truly no limit to how large an audience you can reach by leveraging virtual events. Take it from Gainsight, who grew their 5,000 person tech conference into a 22,000 strong online experience. Digital events eliminate the need for travel, venue capacities, and other costs or logistics that might ordinarily prevent more guests from attending an event. By taking away these obstacles, event organizers are seeing a substantial increase in their potential for audience reach. Along with a larger audience, marketers have found it easier to book speakers – another result of decreased business travel – as well as generate and convert their pipeline.

Positive Shifts of Virtual - Audience Reach

Despite the challenges and setbacks of this virtual era, organizers are seeing benefits to going virtual. That’s why event professionals like Jennifer Hoffman Roach (Head of Audience at Bloomberg Live) who recently joined us on the IN-PERSON Podcast, are planning to integrate a virtual element into their live event strategy, even after in-person experiences return.

2. Attendee networking and engagement remains the number one hurdle that marketers face as they navigate the virtual events landscape.

Virtual Event Challenges - Networking and Engagement

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to create lasting impact on the industry, event marketers are just as, if not more concerned about providing value for their attendees. To resolve this, organizers are turning to technology to create interactive elements that delight and engage their audience. However, technology alone is not enough to fulfill the need for a truly engaging experience.

Planners will need to become increasingly innovative in order to deliver exceptional experiences for their attendees—in many cases drawing ideas from outside of the mainstream events space. For instance, at (Almost) IN-PERSON, HubSpot’s Kim Darling mentioned how she and her team are drawing inspiration from event professionals in the gaming industry who are building communities. The challenge isn’t to make virtual events as engaging as in-person, but even more so, by curating memorable content and creating an environment where attendees can authentically interact with the brand.

3. The Majority of marketers (63%) plan to resume in-person meetings in 2021.

Virtual events may be the only option available for the moment, and event organizers are seeing advantages to this new digital landscape, but live events are a crucial and irreplaceable part of our lives.

It’s human nature to be social, and ultimately, people crave face-to-face interactions. They are a fundamental part of what makes events so enjoyable, which is why event marketers are eager to bring back their in-person events.That’s why we believe – and most event marketers agree – that in-person events will be back and stronger than ever.

Resuming In-Person Events 2021 - in-person events

While there is some uncertainty about how long it might take, it’s clear that most organizers have already begun to plan their in-person events for 2021. This is an inspiring insight into what we can expect to see from event planners next year.

4. An overwhelming 97% of marketers are confident that Hybrid events will become more prominent going forward.

Hybrid events will combine the best of both virtual and in-person experiences and will set the tone for the future of the events industry. Given that the majority of marketers feel confident about the return of in-person events in 2021, and virtual offers its own set of benefits like reaching greater numbers of attendees and accessing a greater variety of speakers, it follows that hybrid events will be a key player in the near future.

Invest in Hybrid 2021 - Hybrid Events

There is a huge opportunity to leverage digital solutions to capture event insight and create interactive experiences, especially once in-person events resume. As we near the end of the year, we should expect hybrid will be a major focus of event strategy in 2021.

For a deeper dive into the future of events in 2021, download the full Evolution of Events Report.

7 Ideas for Driving Engagement at Virtual Events with Gamification

Curious how you can increase audience engagement at your virtual event? Gamification is the newest way to captivate and satisfy your attendees.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bizzabo.

Virtual events aren’t new – but they are new to many event planners. A live poll during EventMB’s recent Pivot to Virtual event showed that over 60% of planners had never previously planned a virtual event. Despite this gap in experience, the events industry shifted completely online in just a few short months. According to a recent Bizzabo survey, 93% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events. It’s clear this new digital landscape is here to stay.

Grand View Research projects that virtual events will increase ten-fold over the next decade, reaching nearly $774 billion. The most innovative event planners are already adapting and working to perfect this medium. Their goal, of course, is to ensure attendees are engaged and satisfied – even from home. In order to not only meet but exceed audience expectations, organizers can incorporate unexpected solutions like gamification to help them overcome the obstacles of virtual events.

The Challenges of Going Virtual

Audience engagement is the biggest challenge when it comes to online events. And virtual experiences risk having ‘ghost attendees’ – folks who register for the event but hardly engage (or don’t show up at all). Face-to-face experiences promote interaction and deeper communication but because of its online nature, people will often try to multitask while attending a virtual event. It can certainly take a toll on session engagement when attendees are responding to emails, answering messages, and taking calls throughout the day.

These challenges directly compete with every event planner’s goal: to create a high level of engagement and satisfaction amongst attendees. It’s important to clarify that all engagement is not good engagement. An attendee sitting idly on the event page or reaching out about a technical issue does not do much for a planner’s event ROI. The engagement must impact key event metrics. Gamification is a great way to motivate specific actions that will have a direct impact on your event KPIs. By focusing on the activities that define success, you can leverage the power of incentives to elicit positive engagement.

Gamify Your Virtual Event by Awarding Points for Desired Actions

Gamification using digital rewards is a clever solution for promoting engagement. Gamifying events is not new either, but the problem is it often translates to a leaderboard of attendees. And there may be a select few who try to cheat the system and focus their entire time at the event towards winning the top prize. Many times only the ‘top slots’ get prizes, leaving most of your attendees to feel like they’re playing the lottery. And when’s the last time you won the lottery?

Instead, consider adding a points-to-rewards strategy to your event to capture the attention of the masses. How does this work? Attendees earn points for taking desired actions. Once they reach a certain threshold, they can redeem these points for desirable digital rewards. The rules are relatively simple, take certain actions to receive points, and redeem X points for Y rewards. This stands to provide a more entertaining way to ensure higher audience engagement as well as satisfaction. It’s also a great opportunity to motivate attendees to take the specific actions that will directly correlate with your event metrics.

When everyone feels like they can win, you’ll see more engagement. Research done for MarketWeek found that people are more likely to enter a competition or drawing if they feel they have a good chance of winning. Rather than offering a grand prize to #1 on the leaderboard, points-to-rewards motivates allattendees to try and earn the prize. Their effort will be equivalent to their reward, with nothing left to chance. That’s how you keep attendees motivated to engage throughout your entire event.

Points-to-Rewards Event Strategies

Incorporate these strategies to get the most out of your event’s points-to-rewards program.

  1. Award points to those who register early.

Why you should do this: Having tons of early registrations reduces risk and builds momentum around the event. Plus, it enables you to advertise registrations and leverage that number in conversations with potential sponsors.

  1. Award points for attending a keynote, session breakout, exhibitor booth, etc.

Why you should do this: This is the heart of your event. It will encourage attendees to fully engage with the content you’ve curated for them and ensure your speakers are getting great attendance. You can even take advantage of this opportunity in your sponsorship agreements. Assign more points to high-value sponsors and exhibitors, which will lead to more visitors and ultimately, more qualified leads.

  1. Award points for visiting and engaging with sponsors and exhibitor booths.

Why you should do this: This encourages more conversations and therefore, more leads. Sponsors and exhibitors are looking to get as many qualified leads as possible. Their continued event participation depends largely on their ability to realize a high ROI on your event. And that starts with having meaningful conversations with the attendees. Incentivize participants to make the first move and learn what your exhibitors have to offer by offering points for having these conversations.

  1. Award points to the first 100 attendees.

Why you should do this: This strategy makes people inclined to jump right into the event and creates anticipation. Awarding points right away also builds goodwill and excitement with attendees – so they are eager to go earn more!

  1. Tie your points notifications to an email that goes directly to your attendees.

Why you should do this: It builds excitement around the points that attendees have already earned, and encourages them to earn even more so they can redeem a reward. Points notifications can be a great way to keep your event top of mind for your attendees without overwhelming them.

  1. Award points for entering a chat session with another attendee or attending a social networking event.

Why you should do this: Let’s face it – it isn’t as easy to encourage networking when it’s all happening over video. Help break the ice by offering a reason for attendees to start chatting. By incentivizing networking, you motivate your guests to get the most possible out of your event.

  1. Offer digital rewards that are relevant to the current times and enable sponsorship of larger rewards.

Why you should do this: Don’t forget – the rewards are what the attendees are excited about! The redemption process should be seamless and the rewards compelling. Make sure that your rewards make sense for the current times. If your attendees are worried about social distancing, a movie theatre gift card likely won’t entice them – but maybe a DoorDash reward would. Enable sponsorship of larger rewards to maximize marketing opportunities and get the most out of your sponsor partnerships.

Takeaways:

  • Gamifying events is an innovative way to foster attendee engagement in the virtual landscape
  • Adding a points-to-reward program allows you to generate excitement and provide even more value to your attendees
  • Use gamification and rewards to encourage your audience to take the specific actions that impact your KPI’s
  • Elevate your sponsor and exhibitor partnerships by generating more value and higher ROI through event gamification

Author: Rida Khan, Marketing Manager at Rybbon

Rida Khan is the Marketing Manager at Rybbon, a digital rewards management platform that helps event planners use digital rewards and incentives to foster an awesome event experience.

5 Virtual Event Tech Options for Immersing Your Attendees

From live streaming to virtual audio—perspectives on the virtual event tech options available to event organizers from the CTO at a leading event agency.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bizzabo.

Over lockdown, events organisers have been working frantically to find ways to keep their clients engaged with their audiences online, attempting to stay ahead of the curve on what’s achievable, cutting edge and practical. As social restrictions tighten across the UK and fluctuate worldwide, Marble LDN’s CTO, Robbie Parry, explores the pros and cons of the technology currently available for digital and hybrid events.

1. Live streaming & video conferencing

One of the simplest and most cost effective ways to take your event online, is live streaming and video conferencing. The very nature of online viewing means your ‘venue’ is accessible to a much larger audience, making the potential reach of your event much larger than its physical counterpart. This is coupled with the opportunity for those who didn’t watch live to watch the event on demand at a time convenient for them, providing trackable brand awareness and invaluable audience insight benefits.

Inevitable internet glitches and busy talent schedules can make pre-recording content essential within some industries. However, while this can provide a more slick and professional appearance, you then lose the ability to engage with your viewers live, by running interactive Q&A sessions for example. Pre-recording is a fairly popular move for B2B online award ceremonies and online gigs or concerts, as it gives you the opportunity to edit and change the camera angles to get a ‘TV’ style result.

It only takes looking at the various annual events that have ‘gone virtual’ using live streaming technology such as Notting Hill Carnival, the viral industry mash up from Fortnite with the Travis Scott concert and Christopher Nolan film screenings, and ‘Secret Sofa’ – Secret Cinema’s cool collaboration with Haagen-Dazs – to demonstrate how popular this live streaming method has become.

There are a multitude of apps out there that can facilitate branded live streaming and audience interaction, including social media apps such as Instagram or TikTok, in addition to platforms which can give a more professional feel and more in-depth analytics.

This is one of the most frequently requested event mechanics from our clients, as the best option for getting content out to a large multi-geographic audience in a cost-effective manner. All in all, there are many options out there, but we recommend putting your audience first and prioritising what they will find engaging.

2. Virtual event platforms

In many ways, we could ask the question why virtual event solutions have not been in use more up until this point. To be able to create a hub where meetings, round tables, conferences and masterclasses can all take place and be stored seems like such a practical solution to events. And indeed there are many platforms out there to explore, but each one has a focus on different areas.

One clear benefit to this event tech is the sheer amount of insight and analysis you have access to, in addition to the branding and sponsorship opportunities. Virtually everything is trackable, you’ll be able to understand the performance of your content, the movement around the platform, the most popular platform areas, the ability to profile your audience (contributing to consumer LTV) and you can even integrate an online shop (or your sponsors online shop) to learn more about purchasing habits and to attribute ROI to your event.

Pot Noodle’s ‘Virtual Freshers 2020’ has apparently digitised the freshers’ experience for the first time ever, creating exact replicas of UK university campuses and letting new students explore their lecture theatres, play games, use augmented reality, and even meet their peers through an integration with Messenger.

The offerings on Pot Noodle’s virtual platform are specifically tailored to a student audience, but each event platform can be personalised to suit what your users are looking for: networking, Q&A sessions, talks, direct messaging between visitors, and more.

Another recent digital activation is our HenkelX Ventures ‘Xchange. We were tasked with creating a virtual event platform that exceeded a simple roundtable or Zoom call; it had to be brand-centric and incorporate all the aspects of experiential events that our client felt important, for example having networking opportunities and direct messaging, with interactive profiles for each delegate.

For me, I believe that the best way to facilitate virtual event technology is to combine it with live experiences when they are able to take place; this will be how you bring it to the next level.

3. Virtual reality

Virtual reality is receiving a bit of hype at the moment, and it’s certainly true that you can create exciting, cutting-edge, immersive experiences using VR event technology – if it’s done well! To create a good virtual reality experience is not something that happens overnight, and can come with a hefty price tag if used to its full potential. However, this is another challenge that can be overcome with the solution of a hybrid event.

To create a virtual world from scratch is a momentous task, and one that will always look ‘computerised’. Instead, we recommend filming your actual events space with 3D cameras prior to the activation – or make use of currently empty spaces like warehouses and clubs to bring your ideas to life without restrictions to scale. By the time this is translated into the VR technology, users will have complete free reign and control over their experience, which is ultimately what makes physical events so popular.

The benefits of VR technology are endless; from tracking who is engaging with which products, or looking at how long people spent in particular areas, brands can learn a lot from not only the technology but the data capture that comes with it.

We particularly loved Verizon Media’s virtual fashion show, ‘The Fabric of Reality’, where each designer worked with a digital artist to create a self-contained universe where users could explore their garments by wearing a VR headset and walking around the space. We don’t doubt we’ll see more high level, mind-blowing concepts like this in the future, but there’s always the limit of your senses. Feeling yourself wearing an actual headset will never compare to the live experience. This is why we recommend fusing virtual and digital realities to give your audience the best of both worlds.

4. Augmented reality

88% of mid-sized companies are already using AR in some capacity, which speaks volumes to its capabilities and diversity. It’s even predicted that by 2023, the AR marketing revenue is going to hit $70-$75 billion per annum, so both our current events and the future of our industry will be impacted by AR technology (figures from vxchnge.com).

AR has become more and more usable, especially in a sales capacity. During lockdown, this becomes even more of a necessity, as you’re able to see what a pair of trainers is going to look like on your feet before buying them, or what that sofa looks like in your house without having to find a tape measure.

AR is also very accessible to a range of users, with apps like Pokémon Go having over 1 billion users when it rushed into the spotlight in 2014 (figures from vxchnge.com), many of whom were children. More recent AR activations have brought brands closer to their consumers during lockdown, with both Ikea and John Lewis using augmented reality shopping experiences to help customers visualise their purchases before buying. The possibilities of AR technology are endless: from gamification, to product placement, advertising, wellness and training, and in many respects it will lend itself to human interaction.

5. Audio reality

For me, audio reality is what ties the whole thing together if you are wanting to go for hyper-realistic mixed reality or virtual reality. The technology delivers an extremely natural and vivid audio experience that heightens emotions and senses and invites the listener to enter a fully mixed reality world.

The use of this technology can bring watching a film on your laptop to life by adding an extra dimension to popular visual activations. And with events like drive-in cinemas and socially distanced concerts becoming ever more popular, using audio reality through headphones will provide audiences with that high-quality experience people are craving at the moment.

Software like Orcastra offersspherical sound and binaural audio to give the impression of 360 degree sound, creating a transformative and heightening experience. We’ve already seen this kind of tech being activated at festivals, with the ‘Gas Tower Stage’ at Glastonbury using a 8:1 sound system – surround-sound taken to a new level!

Audio reality - Virtual event tech options

Source: Glastonbury Festival

The only drawback of audio reality technology is that it is quite cost prohibitive for smaller projects, and on the whole you would want to tie it in with the use of some of the aforementioned tech to create a holistic and cohesive experience for your audience.

The adoption of event technology has accelerated across most industries over the last few months as brands compete to gain the attention of their audience. It also continues to reduce the need for attendee travel and non-biodegradable materials at events, instead bringing experiences to the home at the click of a button. But while online is becoming a more saturated marketplace, the creative applications that are possible with this tech is limitless, and as the online space becomes more widely used we’re seeing an explosion of new technology start-ups and tech features fast tracked, in combination with more competitive pricing.

We love having a much broader choice of tech at our fingertips, and seeing the creativity and imagination from brands who are adapting their physical events to the more immersive online world. We are of course keeping an eye out for what else is emerging in the field, as we integrate more innovative technology into hybrid campaigns for our clients; using these digital touchpoints to provide true value and insight within both our digital events and hopefully more physical events very soon.

Staging a virtual event is hard. We put together a kit of virtual event production templates to make it easier.

Introducing Bizzabo’s Speakers & Partners Management Solutions​

From streamlining event operations to delivering a branded and easy-to-use experience, collaborating with your partners and speakers just got a whole lot better.

A few months ago we announced the Bizzabo’s Speakers Management and Partners Management Solutions in a closed beta. The wait is finally over and these solutions are now available to all organizers.

Event teams are doing a lot with a little. With increasing demands on partnership and content teams to bring top tier speakers and sponsors to events, your day can quickly be eaten up with project management. Every minute spent chasing up a sponsor logo or a speaker headshot is a minute you can’t be hunting the next talent for your event.

Redefine your relationships and your calendar with Bizzabo’s Speakers and Partners Management Solutions.

Bizzabo’s Partners Management Solution

The word partner is no mistake. In 2020, a sponsor is not just looking for an attendee list, they want to partner with you to learn more about your attendees, build relationships, and drive greater business outcomes. However, a partnership cuts both ways, and it can be more than frustrating chasing logos, bios and offers when a deadline looms.

Bizzabo’s Partners Management Solution gives you the tools you need to set up a mutual success plan and keep your partners accountable.

Partner Management Solution

Our flexible and comprehensive solution allows you to set custom tasks with due dates and assign them to the right person for the job on your partner’s team. You can send logo dimension requests out to the designer and special offer requests to the sales team, all while keeping your main contact in the loop on how their team is going.

When you’re satisfied with the deliverables, you’re able to publish their work to your event website, agenda, and mobile app with just the click of a button. No more forms or spreadsheets that aren’t connected to anything, or emails that “get lost in the shuffle.”

Bizzabo’s Speakers Management Solution

After confirming a speaker for your event, it can sometimes feel like they magically vanish into the ether leading up to game day. Your team is trying to produce a whole entire event and is playing email tag with speakers for things like headshots and bios. Meanwhile, your speakers have busy lives and jam-packed inboxes, making it tough for them to stay on top of what they should be doing for the event and when.

With event professionals increasingly seeking speaking talent from across the globe for their virtual and hybrid events, timezone complexities are just adding fuel to the fire.

Bizzabo’s Speakers Management solution gives event leaders the toolbox to streamline their event operations and showcase their speakers in the most flattering light.

Speaker Management Portal

Empower your speakers with a branded and modern portal, giving them the tools to get their profile to shine.

Many high profile speakers require that you work with their management or assistants to coordinate their engagements. With our Speakers Management Solution, you can assign tasks to the right person for the job, before sending it on to the speaker themselves for a final sign-off. Once you’re happy, a single click will publish all their work to your event website.

Increase your productivity and save valuable time

Whether you’ve got a list of excited speakers or hungry sponsors, Bizzabo has the tools you need to save hours of your day so you can focus on strategic event initiatives. Our tools combined with your experience is the perfect equation to grow your team’s capabilities, without needing to expand headcount.

Contact your Customer Success or Account Manager when you’re ready to redefine your content and partner management strategy.

If you’re a Bizzabo customer, you can also learn more about how to use the solutions in the BizzaKnowledge Center.

Bizzabo Shortlisted for Five out of Five Event Tech ‘Oscars’

The Bizzabo team is excited to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for five Event Technology Awards this year. Here’s the full scoop.

The Event Technology Awards are hosted by Event Industry News as a part of their annual conference. The awards recognize the achievements of companies delivering digital and technological solutions to the events industry. Award winners will be announced at the Event Tech Live Expo, a hybrid event taking place this November 2-5, worldwide.

This year we submitted for five submissions for five entries…and we’re thrilled to share that we made the respective shortlist for all five:

  • Best Pivot from Physical to Virtual 
  • Best Event Management Platform
  • Best Hybrid Event or Live Streaming Solution
  • Best Use of Technology for Event Analytics / Data Collection
  • Best Conference Technology 

Bizzabo has consistently won Event Technology Awards for the past five years. In 2019, Bizzabo took home two Event Technology Awards: Best Event Management Platform and Best Technology for Building Event Attendance.

In 2018, Bizzabo took home three Event technology Awards: Best Ticketing Technology, Best Technology for Building Attendance and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Event Technology Supplier. And Bizzabo received the People’s Choice Award four years in a row, between 2016-2018. 

This year, there were a record number of submissions for a new category, Best Pivot from Physical to Virtual. This new category is particularly meaningful as many businesses have needed to quickly shift their business models from physical to digital as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bizzabo is honored to have our virtual solution recognized by such an award, after the hard work that our team put into making the fast shift from in-person to digital, keeping up with the evolving needs of our customers during these unprecedented times.

“Until March of this year, we only provided an event success platform for holistically managing in-person events,” says Bizzabo CEO and Co-Founder Eran Ben-Shushan. Responding to COVID-19, we quickly pivoted our offering to support virtual events.” Since then, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand for our virtual solution and have partnered with organizations like Siemens, Bloomberg, and Salesforce to power their virtual event programs.” 

Here’s a look back:

  • 2019: Last year, Bizzabo launched our Next-Gen Suite of Onsite Event Software Solutions and announced the close of a $27 million Series D funding round. We were also honored to be awarded the Best Event Management Platform and Best Technology for Building Event Attendance. It was a stellar year across many fronts. 
  • 2018: In 2018 Bizzabo doubled our team and the additional person-power enabled us to make big changes to the Bizzabo platform. We completely redesigned our Event App and Event Agenda tool, released our Branded and Ultra Branded Event App offerings, provided organizers with more data clarity thanks to our cross-event analytics functions, enhanced our ticketing and registration tools, plus, much more.
  • 2017: Bizzabo made leaps and bounds in our event software integrations, customer success and event promotion capabilities—our fans and customers acknowledged the changes by voting us as the winner of the People’s Choice Award for the third year running.
  • 2016: After Bizzabo added innovative features, including our Session Registration and Hot Leads to our platform, the people again voted for us in the category – People’s Choice Award, and we’re thrilled to share that we won, once again. 
  • 2015: We first won the votes of event professionals after pioneering the concept of our all-in-one event success software. As a result, we won the Best Event Management Software Award and the People’s Choice Award.

“We’d like to thank all of our customers and supporters who drive us to innovate our offerings and keep pushing further,” says Eran. “We’re grateful and humbled by these acknowledgments from such a prestigious award.”

What he said! 

Bizzabo Shortlisted for Five out of Five Event Tech ‘Oscars

The Bizzabo team is excited to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for five Event Technology Awards this year. Here’s the full scoop.

The Event Technology Awards are hosted by Event Industry News as a part of their annual conference. The awards recognize the achievements of companies delivering digital and technological solutions to the events industry. Award winners will be announced at the Event Tech Live Expo, a hybrid event taking place this November 2-5, worldwide.

This year we submitted for five submissions for five entries…and we’re thrilled to share that we made the respective shortlist for all five:

  • Best Pivot from Physical to Virtual 
  • Best Event Management Platform
  • Best Hybrid Event or Live Streaming Solution
  • Best Use of Technology for Event Analytics / Data Collection
  • Best Conference Technology 

Bizzabo has consistently won Event Technology Awards for the past five years. In 2019, Bizzabo took home two Event Technology Awards: Best Event Management Platform and Best Technology for Building Event Attendance.

In 2018, Bizzabo took home three Event technology Awards: Best Ticketing Technology, Best Technology for Building Attendance and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Event Technology Supplier. And Bizzabo received the People’s Choice Award four years in a row, between 2016-2018. 

This year, there were a record number of submissions for a new category, Best Pivot from Physical to Virtual. This new category is particularly meaningful as many businesses have needed to quickly shift their business models from physical to digital as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bizzabo is honored to have our virtual solution recognized by such an award, after the hard work that our team put into making the fast shift from in-person to digital, keeping up with the evolving needs of our customers during these unprecedented times.

“Until March of this year, we only provided an event success platform for holistically managing in-person events,” says Bizzabo CEO and Co-Founder Eran Ben-Shushan. Responding to COVID-19, we quickly pivoted our offering to support virtual events.” Since then, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand for our virtual solution and have partnered with organizations like Siemens, Bloomberg, and Salesforce to power their virtual event programs.” 

Here’s a look back:

  • 2019: Last year, Bizzabo launched our Next-Gen Suite of Onsite Event Software Solutions and announced the close of a $27 million Series D funding round. We were also honored to be awarded the Best Event Management Platform and Best Technology for Building Event Attendance. It was a stellar year across many fronts. 
  • 2018: In 2018 Bizzabo doubled our team and the additional person-power enabled us to make big changes to the Bizzabo platform. We completely redesigned our Event App and Event Agenda tool, released our Branded and Ultra Branded Event App offerings, provided organizers with more data clarity thanks to our cross-event analytics functions, enhanced our ticketing and registration tools, plus, much more.
  • 2017: Bizzabo made leaps and bounds in our event software integrations, customer success and event promotion capabilities—our fans and customers acknowledged the changes by voting us as the winner of the People’s Choice Award for the third year running.
  • 2016: After Bizzabo added innovative features, including our Session Registration and Hot Leads to our platform, the people again voted for us in the category – People’s Choice Award, and we’re thrilled to share that we won, once again. 
  • 2015: We first won the votes of event professionals after pioneering the concept of our all-in-one event success software. As a result, we won the Best Event Management Software Award and the People’s Choice Award.

“We’d like to thank all of our customers and supporters who drive us to innovate our offerings and keep pushing further,” says Eran. “We’re grateful and humbled by these acknowledgments from such a prestigious award.”

What he said! 

8 Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas

From sponsored sessions to virtual booths, discover the most popular virtual event sponsorship ideas for engaging virtual attendees and driving ROI.

Virtual events are one the most popular event types for 2020 and they’re swiftly becoming mission-critical for organizations and brands. In fact, a whopping 90% of marketing leaders plan to invest in virtual and hybrid events in 2020. While virtual events as a strategy continue to rapidly evolve, virtual sponsorships are changing alone with it providing areas of new opportunity for building new partnerships or re-engaging in-person event sponsors.

Whether you’re looking to pivot to virtual events or are redesigning a virtual event sponsorship program, we’re here to help. The following examples offer fresh perspectives and inspiration for virtual event sponsorship ideas.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Value Propositions

Before diving into the different ideas, we want to identify the main virtual event sponsorship value propositions that will resonate with potential partners. When pitching to potential virtual event sponsors, it’s important to clearly communicate the value of the virtual event experience and how it helps drive sponsor goals and objectives.

We’ve defined three areas of value for virtual sponsors:

Brand Awareness

Virtual events allow sponsors to leverage their brand power and reach a targeted audience. Branding opportunities live virtual booths, virtual sponsor pages, and mobile splash screens are just a few ways to put sponsors in front of virtual attendees.

Audience Insights

Virtual sponsors will find value from the data and insights that can be gathered in virtual events. This can include virtual event registrations and attendees, agenda insights, and Q&A participants, and more. Drilling deeper into attendee engagement will help sponsors maximize their time at virtual events and deliver meaningful interactions with attendees.

Audience Engagement

Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid—the value of an event is building meaningful connections. Sponsors are eager to connect, engage, and bring value to attendees. Sponsored sessions, happy hours, and sponsored Q&As can be great ways to meet and connect with attendees.

8 Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas

Now that we have an idea of the types of value sponsors can get from virtual events, let’s take a look at 8 virtual event production strategies and virtual event ideas that will drive impactful experiences for virtual sponsors.

1. Virtual Sponsor Booths

Sponsor booths at in-person events like trade shows and conferences are a mainstay as they allow sponsors to engage with attendees 1:1. While we don’t recommend trying to replicate the entire in-person booth experience, there are ways to build dedicated virtual spaces for sponsors to interact with virtual attendees in a fun way that offers face to face digital interaction. 

Below, we have a mock-up of how to create a dedicated virtual booth through Bizzabo’s Virtual Experience Solution.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - Virtual Booth

2. Sponsorship Website Pages

Virtual sponsorship real estate is highly valuable for sponsors looking to showcase their brands during a virtual event. Virtual event website pages provide dedicated space to share a sponsor’s mission, products, messaging, and brand design to help attract their target audience attending your virtual event. It also has the potential to be one of the most high value virtual event resources you provide attendees. 

Below is an example of creating a virtual sponsorship website page on the Bizzabo platform. Sponsors can get additional value by sharing downloadable content or highlighting sponsored sessions in order to capture leads.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - Sponsor Page

3. In-App Splash Screens

An important aspect of the virtual event experience is second screen networking. A dedicated mobile event app can help deepen attendee engagement during the live virtual event by providing an immersive experience. 

Splash screens, where are presented to mobile users when launching an app, are a valuable virtual sponsorship opportunity and additional sponsorship touchpoint across the entire virtual attendee journey.

Below is a mock-up of a sponsorship splash screen. 

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - Mobile Splash Image

4. In-App Sponsored Offers

In addition to sponsored splash screens, event organizers can provide sponsored offers. For example, Bizzabo allows virtual attendees to opt-in to providing sponsors with their details and help sponsors capture warm leads within your event app.

Below is a mock-up of what that experience can look like within Bizzabo.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - In-App Offers

5. Sponsored Tracks and Sessions

Event tracks and sessions are a vital element in the virtual event experience. Sponsors will appreciate the ability to create targeted content or entertainment that will attract virtual attendees. 

Oftentimes your sponsor will come with a formulated idea of what their track, session, or entertainment will include. Giving your sponsor the tools to showcase their brand is a great way to provide a mutual return on investment in the partnership. 

Below is an example from #SMWONE that includes the sponsor, Talkwalker, who is hosting the session.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - SessionsSource: Social Media Week

6. Sponsored Promo Codes

Event promo codes are a great way to drive event registrations. In a virtual environment, sponsored promo codes can have a double advantage: not only do promo codes give your sponsor room brand exposure, but they also incentivize sponsors to proactively market your virtual event.

Below is an example of a promo code built within the Bizzabo platform. A typical sponsor promo code will offer a discount to the attendee or even an exclusive experiential perk while providing attribution data. Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas -Promo Codes

7. Pre-Roll Videos and Commercials

If you’ve watched a free video online, you’ve probably seen sponsored content that rolls right before the video. You can leverage pre-roll videos the same way and showcase your sponsors while you have your attendees’ undivided attention with a short sponsorship video right before the session starts. Most companies have a short brand video readily available, meaning less time creating content. It’s common for these videos to typically be 30 seconds to 1 minute long. 

Here’s an example of the video Bizzabo used for 1-minute promotion spots in other virtual events.

8. Email Promotions

Branding communications through email are a great way to get virtual sponsor visibility. Scheduled communications to registrants, announcements, or other virtual event promotions can be great areas of opportunity to showcase relevant sponsors. 

In this first example, TechCrunch Disrupt sponsor Dell provides a message for entrepreneurs leading up to the virtual event. 

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - Sponsored Email

In this second example below from WNORTH, virtual event sponsors are highlighted at the bottom of the email.

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas - Logos

Key Takeaway: Delivering Value to Virtual Sponsors and Attendees

At the end of the day, virtual sponsors are hoping to connect and engage their target audience at your event. Remember to link any virtual sponsorship program with a concrete way to drive value to your sponsors and partners. For example, that could be through email list development for speakers or even guaranteeing them a spot in one of your next hybrid event ideas. Communication and feedback through before, during, and post-event will also help you improve and optimize your virtual sponsorship programs for the next virtual or hybrid event.

Looking for more resources on building a Virtual Event Sponsorship Program? Dive into the Virtual Sponsorship Workbook for tips, tools, and exercises to get you on track.

The 7 Most Popular Virtual Event Use Cases

Leadings brands are engaging audiences, magnetizing new leads, and creating valuable experiences with these popular virtual event types. 

Virtual events are surging in popularity, but virtual events are more than just webinars or live Q&As. There’s a whole range of virtual experiences and virtual event types your company can consider as you shift to a hybrid events model. Here are some different virtual event use cases depending on your business goals.

1. Virtual Summit

Virtual summits are as close as you can get to mimicking an in-person conference online. These events feature tons of speakers, a variety of session topics and product demos, depending on the industry.

Event goal: Virtual summits are beneficial for lead generation, brand building and creating long-tail content. Companies often make the sessions, keynote addresses and other speeches from their virtual summits available on-demand for anyone to access online — as long as they provide an email address. These multi-day events also can be revenue drivers if a brand is able to draw renowned speakers or offer unique content.

Example: Data management company Looker will host a virtual summit in October, the Join @Home Digital Data Conference. The two-day summit will include self-guided workshops, breakout sessions, interactive learning sessions where attendees can schedule a one-on-one virtual session with a Looker expert and roundtables where peers can share best practices and learn from each other. 

WNorth, a community focused on nurturing female business leaders, also plans to hold a virtual summit in October. The seven-hour event, which will take place on Oct. 29, typically happens in person in Whistler, Canada. However, organizers have shifted the conference online due to pandemic. The event will focus on leadership development and will feature nearly 20 diverse female executives, authors and leaders from various industries. To make the conference as interactive as possible, WNorth is giving attendees the opportunity to purchase a virtual experience package that includes virtual dinners with guest speakers.

WNorth - Virtual Event Use CasesSource: Looker.com

2. Virtual Conference Series

Like a virtual summit, a virtual conference series is a large-scale event. However, it can span multiple days or even weeks. This allows attendees to pop in and out of the experience whenever they wish and allows companies to break up content into more digestible chunks and formats. 

Event goal: Aside from the potential for ongoing audience engagement, companies can use a virtual conference series to collect valuable data they can use to improve their products or services. Companies also can repurpose the content from these events to bolster other parts of their marketing strategy, whether it’s for social media or the creation of white papers, blogs or infographics. 

Example: The Unleash Summit series and the #SMWOne conference series both provide examples of these event types. The Unleash Summit series will be divided into three parts: exceed, pivot and build, which will take place over three weeks in September. Each day will feature three to four sessions, most of which are under an hour, which is a great approach to get screen-wary audiences to engage with the content. #SMWOne, a virtual conference for digital marketing leaders, took a similar approach. However, its conference ran from May 5 – 28, allowing organizers to spread out the conference’s 171 sessions over nearly an entire month.

SMWOne - Virtual Event Use CasesSource: SMWOne.com

3. Virtual Trade Shows and Expos

Similar to their in-person counterparts, virtual trade shows and expos are all about showcasing products and services — but at a fraction of the cost of an in-person event since exhibitors don’t have to worry about travel, lodging and shipping expenses. 

Event goal: With a virtual experience, you lose a lot of the tactile engagement you get with an IRL trade show or expo, but a virtual take on these events is still useful in terms of product discovery and generating qualified leads. Exhibitors also can reach a wider audience since registrants can attend from the comfort of their own homes.

Example: In June, IPackEXPO, which serves the packaging industry, launched its first-ever virtual trade show. The show runs until the end of the year and the expo area is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for attendees to browse products from more than 2,000 exhibitors. Along with this non-stop trade show, the event also features virtual company booths and sponsor-led webinars, product launches, demos and workshops. 

4. Virtual Workshops

Virtual workshops are a simple, compact way to deliver content on a specific topic. Attendees get to engage with and learn from professionals who are experts in their industry, and hopefully, take something actionable away from the event they can use to help their companies achieve their business goals.

Event goal: These events, which typically take place over a few hours or over the course of one day, are beneficial for thought leadership, brand building and skill-building. They also can be a good way for professionals to get continuing education.

Example: Intuit hosted a virtual workshop on Sept. 11 focused on design thinking. The company anchored the event around its own design thinking process, giving attendees insight into how it creates leading financial services products like TurboTax and Mint. 

Intuit - Virtual Event Use CasesSource: Eventbrite.com

5. Virtual Happy Hours

Virtual events don’t all have to be about learning, product demos or big-name speakers. They can be super casual, too. Enter virtual happy hours, which allow people from all over the world to log on — cocktail or mocktail in hand — and talk shop (or even better, not talk about work at all). 

Event goal: In a time where we have to stay socially-distant, virtual happy hours give people the chance to connect with their colleagues and peers. It lets them socialize and network, even if they can’t physically be in the same space. For companies hosting these events, bringing people together and fostering a sense of connectedness and community is a noble goal that doesn’t necessarily need to be rewarded with clicks or leads — though virtual happy hours do help organizations stay in touch and top of mind with their customers, clients or members.

Example: Women in Sports and Events (WISE), which has chapters across the country, has held several virtual happy hours in recent months. The San Francisco chapter hosted an event in June that allowed attendees to first come together as a group for casual conversation and then break out into smaller groups for targeted discussions, which is pretty similar to what happens at a typical networking event.

6. Virtual Lunch & Learns or Breakfasts

Virtual lunch and learns or breakfast events are good for skill-building and brand building, but with foodie twist that makes these events more laidback. 

Event goal: These events are beneficial for thought leadership, training and development. You can use them as part of the onboarding process for new customers if you have a technical product that requires a bit more guidance, or to position your brand as an expert in a particular field or topic area — without making as hard a sell as you’d have to at a virtual trade show or conference. 

Examples: On Sept. 23, the University of Houston – Clear Lake will host a free virtual lunch and learn where business owners can learn about topics such as financial management, business planning and how to navigate the current uncertainty. They’ll hear from expert speakers, including a business professor at the university. This event showcases how an organization can be of service to its community while promoting its brand in a way that feels authentic.

Source: UH-Clear Lake Twitter page

7. Hybrid Event

A hybrid event combines the power of a live or in-person event with the convenience of a virtual event. Obviously, companies who put on these events must abide by CDC and social distancing guidelines, but in areas where it’s safer for people to connect in-person — at a social distance — hybrid event ideas can be an invaluable part of a company’s overall event marketing strategy.

Event goal: Interactivity and flexibility are two of the biggest benefits of a hybrid event. Attendees can choose to attend some parts of the experience in-person or engage in sessions virtually. And just like virtual summits or conference series, the brand awareness and lead generation opportunities with these events can’t be beat.

Examples: Frontiers Health and Event Tech Live showcase how companies can organize hybrid events during this tricky time. Frontiers Health plans to hold its global hybrid conference in November, allowing attendees to engage with content virtually and with each other in-person at several local hubs. Event Tech Live will take place online from Nov. 2-6 and in-person on Nov. 4-5 at a London brewery. Splitting the event into two parts will give attendees access to a two-day physical show and five days of online educational content and networking opportunities with exhibitors and representatives from different countries. 

Key Takeaways: Choosing the Right Virtual Experience

Not all virtual event ideas are created equal and every event type won’t be right for your brand. Before you proceed with creating a virtual event, keep these things in mind:

  • Consider your goals: Are you launching a virtual event production to drive leads, to build brand awareness or to showcase your products since you can no longer do face-to-face sales meetings? Think about what your larger goal is and what outcome you want to achieve before you pick an event type. 
  • See what’s already out there: Look to other companies, both inside and outside your industry, for best practices and lessons in what not to do when organizing a virtual event. Also think about some virtual events you’ve attended in recent months and pinpoint what you liked and what you didn’t. This can help to inform your own approach to virtual events.
  • Survey your audience: Ask your customers — either through an informal poll, email or phone conversation with some of them — what content would be the most relevant and engaging. Finding out how you can best meet their needs will put you in a better position to create a successful virtual experience.
  • Pick the right technology: There are tons of virtual event resources and platforms on the market. Do your due diligence and compare different vendors based on your event goals and the core KPIs you want to achieve. For example, if interactivity or metrics are important to you, make sure the virtual event platform you pick offers these capabilities.

Virtual events can help you connect with your customers, but taking the time to choose the right one can ensure the effort you put into creating your event actually pays off.

10 Well-Executed Virtual Events From Tech Companies

From Microsoft to HPE, Gainsight, and more, leading tech brands are going virtual. 

COVID-19 and events have been challenging to navigate. Luckily, nearly every industry has embraced virtual events, including tech companies. From showcasing their products to making major announcements and connecting with developers, technologists, and B2B customers, it’s clear that virtual events are high value across the board. Here are 10 well-executed virtual event ideas from tech companies and what you can learn from them.

10 Well-Executed Virtual Events From Tech Companies

1. Qualtrics

Qualtrics - Event Marketing

Source: Qualtrics.com

Qualtrics, an experience data company owned by SAP, has mainly focused its virtual event strategy on webinars. However, after having to postpone its huge X4 Summit — which Qualtrics bills as “the greatest gathering of experience management professionals on the planet”— the company decided to launch a digital event series called “WorkDifferent.” 

The pandemic has completely transformed how companies do business, and Qualtrics celebrated how its customers have adapted to this change. “WorkDifferent,” which took place on Aug. 12, featured marquee speakers like best-selling author and acclaimed researcher Brené Brown, sports icon Tony Hawk and Omar Johnson, the former chief marketing officer of Beats by Dre, covering topics like “How Brands Can Find Their Way Without Losing Their Way” and “Keeping Your Wheels Spinning While the World is at a Standstill.” The event also featured digital case studies focused on organizations including Microsoft and the City of Orlando on how they’ve transitioned to remote work while improving both their employee and customer experience.

Key Takeaway: Qualtrics shows how companies can pivot their in-person events to online in a way that meets the moment. Brené Brown and other industry heavyweights were scheduled to speak at the X4 summit in March, but Qualtrics didn’t let that cache go to waste and figured out a way to reformat and reimagine the event virtually and deliver content that was both on-brand and timely. 

2. Cisco

Last year, Cisco convened its partners and customers from across the country in San Diego for Cisco Live.

This year, none of them had to leave home. The company transformed Cisco Live into a two-day virtual event with over 500 sessions focused on topics that are top of mind for IT leaders and professionals, including network transformation, SD-WAN and mobile edge computing. With that many sessions, Cisco was smart to divide the event into four distinct channels: the innovation channel, possibilities channel, IT heroes channel and the IT leadership channel, which gave attendees a way to easily navigate this massive digital experience.

Key Takeaway: Cisco used the power of its own technology to create what was arguably one of the largest online events ever in 2020. And Cisco apparently did so successfully. The two-day event had three million live views, the sessions received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 and 84% of attendees either liked or loved the event, according to a promo video the company posted on Twitter.

3. Gainsight

Gainsight held a free two-day virtual event, “Pulse Everywhere,” that brought together customer success and product professionals. The May event featured over 25 sessions and a variety of event types across five tracks, with leaders from top companies such as Splunk, Adobe, VmWare and LinkedIn. Gainsight has made all the content available on-demand for free, allowing site visitors to watch video of each session and download the slides for future reference as long as they fill out a registration form to access Pulse Everywhere’s content.

Key Takeaway: Gainsight turned what traditionally would have been a 5,000-person live conference into an online experience for 22,000 attendees in the span of 45 days. In a blog post, the company said it was focused on creating a distinct virtual event, so it basically had to start from scratch with a “beginner’s mind” and focus on how to reimagine everything from the registration to the networking experience. Gainsight decided to go hybrid for some parts of its event, using a combination of pre-recorded sessions followed by live Q&As to bring a bit of the traditional in-person experience to attendees. 

4. Microsoft Build

Microsoft Build - Event MarketingSource: Microsoft Build

Microsoft took its annual developer conference virtual with a two-day event that featured nearly 600 sessions on topics ranging from how inclusivity can drive innovation to how remote teams can be productive. In a sign of the times, Microsoft even held “Community Connections” experiences where a yoga teacher guided attendees through different movements to promote relaxation and stress reduction.

Key Takeaway: Realizing that it has a highly engaged audience of developers, Microsoft knew it was important to continue connecting with this audience, which is why the company held its virtual event on the exact same dates the in-person conference was scheduled to take place in Seattle. 

Microsoft typically uses this conference to get the developer community excited about new product updates and to break news about the company’s latest and greatest innovations. More than 200,000 people registered for the event and major media outlets covered it, proving that conferences don’t always have to be in-person to generate the same amount of buzz. 

In the future, you may even be so successful in the virtual space that you’ll want to continue using these hybrid event ideas

5. 2020 HMG Live! New York CIO Summit of America

HMG Strategy, a technology company whose platform connects IT leaders and security experts around the globe, holds several summits and live events every year that target chief information officers (CIOs), chief information security officers (CISOs) and senior IT executives. 

On Aug. 20, it held “2020 HMG Live! New York CIO Summit of America,” a two-hour event focused on how IT leaders can “Learn from the Past and Present to Reshape the Future of Business.” IT leaders from top companies such as Amazon Web Services, Verizon, Deloitte, Olgivy, the NFL and Zoom all participated, sharing their insights on topics like the future of work and fostering collaboration in a hybrid work environment.

Key Takeaway: HMG Strategy has built a thriving community of IT leaders that it can call upon to both engage with and participate in its virtual event production and experiences. Its events are can’t miss because attendees know they’ll hear from CIOs and executives from big brands and learn best practices that may be beneficial for their own companies, regardless of whether they work at a Fortune 500 or a mid-sized business.

6. LiveWorx 2020

LiveWorx 2020 - Event Marketing

Source: LiveWorx.com

LiveWorx, a conference focused on digital transformation that usually welcomes 6,000 attendees to Boston, went from a four-day in-person event to a free one-day virtual event in June. Despite going digital, the conference still had 7,000 attendees who enjoyed nine live- streamed keynote speeches and more than 100 on-demand sessions focused on augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.

Key Takeaway: LiveWorx demonstrates how you can do a virtual event at scale. The company embraced a hybrid approach, with on-demand sessions, nine live keynotes from influencers and industry leaders, live Q&As and gave attendees the ability to network with thousands of other industry professionals. Allowing attendees to consume content at their own convenience or interact in real-time is an effective way to make your virtual event experience accessible but still engaging.

7.HPE Discover Virtual Experience

In June, HPE held its first ever global virtual event. More than 38,000 attendees from 175 countries logged on to hear from over 100 speakers, including journalist Soledad O’Brien, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and an assortment of industry leaders. More than 200 sessions are available on-demand and so far the content has received over 1 million live views and counting.

Key Takeaway: Not only has HPE made hours of content available on-demand so it can generate continuous traffic and leads, it’s also made the content shareable on social platforms, including Facebook Messenger. Though organizing a virtual event for nearly 40,000 speakers isn’t light work, HPE shows it can pay dividends for months to come in terms of social traffic, brand awareness and ongoing engagement.

8. Apple WWDC

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference is a can’t-miss event in the developer community, so it’s no surprise that instead of cancelling the event altogether, Apple made it virtual. Apple’s conference was a cross-platform experience. The company used its Developer app to share information on sessions in the run-up to the event and to allow attendees to engage with the content (naturally) on their iPads, iPhones or Apple TV devices over the course of four days. 

Key Takeaway: Virtual doesn’t just mean desktop. Think about how attendees will engage with your content. Obviously, Apple has a huge advantage as a device maker and technology company, but if you’re pivoting to a virtual event, it’s important to also think about the mobile experience and make sure the user experience and content are consistent with what attendees will get on desktop. 

9. Atmosphere 2020 | Aruba Networks

Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard company, was supposed to host its wireless networking conference in Las Vegas in March. Instead, it divided the conference into several monthly events. The first event took place on June 9 and covered meaty topics such as edge computing, 5G and how companies can develop their own edge-to-cloud strategy. And if the June events weren’t enough, more virtual experiences are scheduled for September. 

Key Takeaway: If you have a global conference that needs to go from in-person to virtual, why not spread the event out over several months and not just several days? By doing so, you can give “Zoom fatigued” attendees a virtual break.

10. CircleCityCon

Who says cybersecurity has to be boring? It already feels like we’re all living in our own version of the apocalypse, so it’s not surprising that CircleCityCon embraced this theme. The cybersecurity conference, which took place June 12-14, featured free training sessions, virtual arcades, game shows, a job fair and interactive villages where like-minded professionals could virtually gather. Conference organizers even sent attendees a swag bag filled with quirky apocalyptic insignia (COVID-friendly mask included).

Key Takeaway: Pick a unique theme and run with it. Some of the more than 40 sessions featured interesting titles like “Harry Potter and the InfoSec Apprentice” and “Every Breath You Take: A CTI Review of Stalkerware.”

Main Takeaways 

  • Go hybrid:Just because your event is virtual, doesn’t mean it can’t include IRL-like elements such as a live Q&A or panel or even a live DJ.
  • Get social: Find ways to integrate experiences that attendees would expect at an in-person conference, like a happy hour, networking events or even a virtual lobby where attendees can mix and mingle before the main event gets started.
  • Spread it out: An in-person conference doesn’t necessarily transfer 1-1 to a virtual conference. A one-day in-person conference likely will need to be a multi-day virtual event to give attendees the opportunity to consume content at their own pace. Given all the demands people now have as they work from home, splitting things up is a smart strategy for making your content more consumable.
  • Leverage your community: If your brand caters to a highly engaged, niche audience, use them to shape your virtual events strategy. Seek their input on the content or ask community members to participate as speakers.