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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. 

10 Diversity and Inclusion Events to Know About in 2020

Discover this year’s best virtual events focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and learn how you can support and amplify the voices of those who need to be heard.

Many companies are pivoting to virtual events. More than 90% of event marketers plan to make virtual a key part of their strategy going forward. Additionally, 68% of marketers are planning to find a solution that can incorporate both in-person and virtual experiences into a hybrid event approach.

While we’ve seen big-name brands and publishers embrace virtual events, organizations focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I) are also going digital to connect with their audience and advance this worthwhile goal, which has become an even more urgent topic in workplaces across the country. 

Here are 10 diversity and inclusion virtual events to know about in 2020 and what you can learn from them. 

1.(Not IRL) Pride Summit 

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Not IRL Pride SummitSource: Lesbians Who Tech 

Event Date: June 22, 2020 – June, 26, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Taking place over five days in June, the (Not IRL) Pride Summit was the largest LGBTQ tech gathering in history, according to the conference’s organizers. The free community event offered virtual meetups and 103 sessions on topics ranging from “Centering Black Trans Folks in Activism and Tech” to “AI for Social Good.”

Why Attend: The event featured big-name speakers, including U.S. soccer legend Megan Rapinoe, Jen Wong, COO of Reddit, and Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of the keynote speeches and breakout sessions are archived on the summit’s landing page, so you can engage with the content at your own convenience. 

Check out additional LGBTQ virtual events for 2020 and 2021 here.

2. Disability:IN Virtual Conference

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Disability: IN Virtual ConferenceSource: Twitter

Event Date: July 13, 2020 – July 16, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Disability:IN, which works with 220 leading companies to achieve disability equity and inclusion, hosted a virtual three-day conference with more than 20 sessions, 175 speakers (including three Fortune 500 CEOs) and 3,000 attendees. The conference even featured a virtual exhibit hall where vendors could showcase products and services that could help companies make their workplaces more inclusive.

Why Attend: This conference demonstrates the importance of making your virtual content accessible for participants. Disability:IN ensured its exhibit booths, plenary and breakout sessions catered to the needs of its audience by offering a participant and accessibility guide to help attendees navigate the virtual experience and by providing the 68 exhibitors with virtual booths accessibility best practices and recommendations (Note: All content is available on-demand for conference registrants through the end of 2020. You also can follow the #disabilityadvantage hashtag on Twitter to see highlights.)

3. Unidos US Annual Conference and Virtual Marketplace

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Unidos US ConferenceSource: Twitter UnidosUS

Event Date: July 27, 2020 – July 30, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Unidos US, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, hosted this free three-day virtual conference, which covered important issues in the Latino community, including economic and political empowerment and racial justice. Featured speakers included Senator Elizabeth Warren, Telemundo anchor José Diaz Balart and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Why Attend: For event marketers looking to hold similar events, Unidos US’s virtual conference shows how you can offer interesting content and a virtual expo where corporate sponsors can showcase their products and services in virtual booths — the perfect model for a hybrid events strategy. Though the conference has passed, you can view all the sessions on Unidos US’s YouTube channel.

4. Opal Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Virtual Summit

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Diversity and Inclusion Virtual SummitSource: Opal Group

Event Date: Aug. 20, 2020 – Aug. 21, 2020

Location:[Virtual]

Description: The Opal Group, which organizes conferences in various industries, will host a two-day Diversity & Inclusion Virtual Summit where HR, D&I and talent management professionals will gather to collaborate and discuss recruitment, hiring and onboarding strategies.

Why Attend: The summit offers a compelling case study in virtual events. Opal Group plans to use virtual 3D to take traditional in-person networking digital (if you’ve always wanted your own avatar, now’s your chance).

5. Shift: Navigating the New Normal: NAAAP Leadership Convention

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - NAAAP

Source: Leadership Convention

Event Date: August 21, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) will host its annual conference virtually for the first time this year. With more than 25,000 members, NAAAP’s virtual convention will likely be one of the largest online gatherings of its kind.

Why Attend: The three-day convention is geared toward students, mid-career professionals, entrepreneurs and executives, so professionals of all stripes will find content that may appeal to them. 

6. Synchronicity (LGBTQ) Virtual Conference

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - SYNChronicitySource: Synchronicity

Event Date: Sept. 8, 2020 – Sept. 11, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Synchronicity, a conference focused on LGBTQ health, was originally scheduled for June, but conference organizers have decided to make the 7th annual event virtual. Thousands of healthcare providers, government officials, faith-based and community organizations are expected to attend the four-day virtual conference, lending their voices and perspectives to more than 60 sessions across 13 tracks.

Why Attend: While participants in the healthcare industry will be able to connect with like-minded peers to advance the health of marginalized communities, they’ll also earn 30 or more free continuing education credits. Attendees will also have the opportunity to connect virtually with other conference go-ers through special networking activities, bringing some of the benefits of an in-person conference to this virtual experience.

7. Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Tech Conference

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Black EnterpriseSource: Black Enterprise

Event Date: Sept. 23, 2020 – Sept. 24, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Women of Power in Tech (WPTech) is Black Enterprise magazine’s first ever virtual conference. The conference will feature presentations, workshops and coaching sessions to help attendees learn how they can upskill themselves to advance in the tech industry.

Why Attend: This isn’t your typical virtual conference. Billed as “an experience beyond Zoom,” WPTech is designed to give attendees as close to an in-person experience as possible. They’ll begin their conference experience in a virtual lobby, before heading over to the conference’s main stage to attend keynote speeches and one-on-one interviews with tech’s top influencers. On top of this, there’s a virtual recruitment hub where attendees can potentially find their next big job opportunity.

8. SHRM Inclusion 2020: Virtual Experience 

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Inclusion 2020Source: Society for Human Resource Management

Event Date: Oct. 19, 2020 – Oct. 21, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: Last year, Inclusion 2019 took place in New Orleans, but the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has pivoted to not just a virtual event, but a three-day virtual experience that will feature 50 sessions covering eight topics around diversity and inclusion.

Why Attend: More than 1,000 diversity and inclusion leaders are expected to attend SHRM’s conference. As the country grapples with issues around social and racial justice, having an open, collaborative dialogue about how to tackle these issues in the workplace has never been more necessary for leaders who want to build diverse, high-performing teams.

9. Conference Board: 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Virtual Conference

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ConferenceSource: The Conference Board

Event Date: Nov. 12, 2020 – Nov. 16, 2020

Location: [Virtual]

Description: This conference was originally scheduled for the end of 2019, but as it shifts to this fall, the Conference Board, a non-profit research group that serves 1,200 private and public sector member organizations, is focused on ensuring D&I leaders and C-level executives participating in the event can engage in timely, insightful conversations about how to transform their organizations for the better. The Conference Board is even adding several sessions to its agenda for this very purpose.

Why Attend: Zoom-based sessions called “D&I Overtime” will allow attendees to engage in town hall-style forums with industry experts on topics that include race, privilege and belonging. These sessions present an invaluable opportunity to have difficult conversations that many leaders may not yet feel comfortable participating in within their organizations. This is just one way they can get more comfortable and prepare for these discussions.

10. Conference Board: 2020 Women’s Leadership Conference

Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conferences - Women's Leadership ConferenceSource: Women’s Leadership Conference

Event Date: Dec. 3, 2020 – Dec. 4, 2020

Location:[Virtual]

Description: The Conference Board also will host a two-day virtual conference focused on gender equity in the workplace, where global leaders from Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Navy, Harvard University and other organizations will share the steps they’re taking to empower women leaders — and how other organizations can do the same.

Why Attend: You can participate in sessions live or on-demand. You also can interact with other participants in the virtual attendee lounge, chat with speakers in small group roundtables or check out vendors in the virtual exhibit hall. 

Participate in Diversity & Inclusion Virtual Events in 2020

If you’re looking to engage in deep, meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion, the 10 conferences and events listed above offer compelling content and the opportunity to interact with industry professionals and leading experts focused on advancing this goal. 

The insights, connections and networking opportunities these events offer will benefit industry professionals who want to access knowledge they can use to improve their organizations and be better at their jobs, and event marketers looking for examples to mimic for their own virtual events.

Curious to see how events will evolve with virtual and in-person experiences? Check out our in-depth guide on Going Hybrid to see how you can advance your event strategy.

Top 11 Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professionals

Ready to launch your virtual or hybrid events strategy? Discover our top 11 virtual event resources to hit the ground running.

If your company has shifted to a hybrid events strategy and wants to produce engaging and impactful virtual events, you need both a game plan and a toolkit.

Thankfully, we’ve created a wealth of resources to help you along the way. Here are 11 virtual event resources to check out.

1. Pivoting to Virtual Events: 10 Examples from Leading Brands

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - WSJ Health ForumSource: Wall Street Journal

Sometimes a virtual event just works well because the subject matter is so timely. That was the case with the Wall Street Journal’s Health Forum, which convened industry leaders and experts on March 24 to discuss the pandemic and other global health topics. 

The Journal is just one example of how brands have pivoted during this crisis. Check out the article to see what nine other brands have done and what you can learn from them.

2.Virtual Events 2020

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Events Directory for 2020Source: Bizzabo

Want to know who else is putting on a virtual event this year? Then look no further than our comprehensive list of 2020 virtual events and conferences. Use this list to learn how your peers are putting on well-executed virtual events and to gather ideas and inspiration for your own event. Plus, you can submit your event to be potentially featured, which should help your event gain more exposure and reach a wider audience. 

3. Virtual Conference Guide

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Events GuideSource: Bizzabo

If you need a game plan for how to execute your company’s virtual events strategy, start with this guide. It features examples and descriptions of different virtual events you can consider, advice for how to keep attendees engaged, how to integrate sponsors into your event, how to set KPIs to measure success, and five virtual event solutions to consider (hint: Bizzabo is one of them).

Looking to benchmark your virtual strategy? Check out our 7 must-know virtual event benchmarks analyzed from hundreds of virtual events that have taken place on our platform during the pandemic.

4. 19 Digital Gift Ideas for Virtual Events & Conferences

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Digital Gifts for Virtual Event ConferencesSource: TechCrunch

Swag bags and free goodies are one of the perks of attending in-person conferences, but just because conferences are going virtual doesn’t mean you’ll have to forgo the swag for attendees, partners, speakers or sponsors.

You can keep the digital theme going by giving them a digital gift. This list of 19 digital gift ideas will help you show them your gratitude. After all, who wouldn’t want a video shout-out from Snoop Dogg as a thank you?

5. (Almost) IN-PERSON On-Demand

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Almost IN-PERSONSource: Bizzabo

These days, everything feels like it’s taking place almost in-person and our (Almost) IN-PERSON virtual event was no different. Over 6,000 people registered, representing 1,536 companies and 70 countries. We even launched our first virtual event slack community to support the conversations long after the event had passed. (Almost) IN-PERSON demonstrated how Bizzabo has been able to pivot during the pandemic — using our own solutions to connect with a global community of event marketers. But more importantly, the event was filled with best practices and examples from other leading brands you can now access on-demand.

6. 20 Virtual Event Ideas

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Gainsight PulseCheckSource: PulseCheck

Even if you’re already put on or attended dozens of virtual events, if your well of ideas runs dry, this list can spark your creativity. It features 20 ideas for virtual events, using companies like Google, HubSpot and other niche brands as examples. One of our favorite ideas on the list is from the software company Gainsight. The company hosted a virtual event called PulseCheck in which it offered pre-recorded sessions free to new subscribers (in exchange for their email, of course). As a bonus, Gainsight can also repurpose the content from PulseCheck for future lead-generation activities— a win-win for the company. 

That’s just one example. Check out the full list for more.

7. 30 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Virtual Event Platform

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual event platform evaluationSource: Bizzabo

With so many virtual event platforms to choose from and so little time, it can be difficult to know if you’re making the right decision when your organization invests its hard-earned money in a particular product.

To take out some of the risk, you need to ask the right questions. These questions should focus on three key things: the virtual organizer experience, the virtual speaker experience and the virtual attendee experience. Read the article for 30 questions to get you started.

8.Going Hybrid Ebook

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Going HybridSource: Bizzabo

Our Going Hybrid ebook is a marketer’s bible for all things virtual events. This in-depth guide outlines the benefits of virtual and hybrid events, offers tips for how you can craft engaging virtual experiences and gives advice for how you can assess what tools you need to take your virtual event from concept to execution.

9. Beyond Virtual Happy Hours: 10 Remote Team-Bonding Ideas

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Team BondingSource: Bizzabo

One of the hardest things about social distancing for some people is missing the camaraderie and social atmosphere of the office. It’s hard to exactly mimic that in a virtual environment, but that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t at least try.

Though virtual happy hours seem to be gaining popularity, this list provides some ideas beyond that. Want to challenge your co-worker to a game of Texas Hold ‘em or learn how to make gnocchi from scratch? A virtual cooking class or board game night may be the perfect way to connect with your team in quarantine.

10. Virtual Event Production Kit

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Event Production KitSource: Bizzabo

Our virtual event production kit gives you everything necessary to successfully execute your event, including speaker kickoff and prep templates to deliver a best-in-class speaker experience as well as a production schedule to help you ensure your virtual event runs smoothly and on time.

Curious about how to get started with a virtual event production team? Check out our in-depth virtual event AV production guide to hit the ground running.

11. 10 Tools for Hosting a Virtual Event

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Experience SolutionSource: Bizzabo

Creating a virtual event that doesn’t bore attendees involves a lot more than just turning on Zoom and hoping for the best. You really need robust event management tools that allow you to deliver an actual experience — not just an event. There are plenty on the market to choose from, including Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams, but if you’ll forgive us for the utterly shameless plug, Bizzabo’s Virtual Experience Solution is pretty awesome, too. 

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re hosting a virtual event for the first time, simply pivoting until in-person events can safely resume, or are an experienced virtual event pro, these 11 resources can help your company connect with your audience digitally.

Hosting an engaging virtual event requires a good idea and technology and tools that enable you to transform that good idea into a great event. Whether you need an in-depth guide for how to create and execute a hybrid events strategy or a list of digital gift ideas for speakers attendees, all these resources should put you well on your way to creating memorable virtual experiences that move the needle for your business.

Discover how your peers are re-defining the industry by integrating a hybrid events strategy and share your perspectives on the evolution of events.

8 Well-Executed Virtual Events from Publishers

Learn about this year’s best virtual events hosted by leading publishers like the New York Times and The Atlantic to supercharge your next digital gathering.

With large, in-person events postponed or canceled, for the time being, many publishers have embraced virtual event production to take their events online. And because virtual events are one of the most accessible and scalable event types, they’re seeing a lot of success! Here’s a rundown of some hit virtual events publishers have executed in recent months, and what you can learn from them.

1. The Atlantic

The Atlantic - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: The Atlantic

The Atlantic published its first issue in 1857, and more than a century later, the national magazine has evolved into a multimedia company that publishes unique perspectives on current events from leading thinkers to a multi-platform publisher with a growing events brand.

In the midst of the pandemic, the company, which has previously hosted events including an Education Summit and Healthcare Forum, has shifted its focus to virtual events. In early July, it gathered a diverse group of experts and higher education leaders from public universities and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for a virtual event on “The State of Higher Ed: Roadmap to Reopening.”

Sessions focused on the pandemic’s financial impact on higher education and how schools are planning for a hybrid learning environment with remote and in-person learning when they return in the fall. They also hosted a broader conversation about how colleges and universities can be more fair and sustainable for students across racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“For me, the conversation about reopening is simply not enough. Yes, it’s important to talk about class schedules, budgets, PPE and physical distancing, but beyond that, we cannot and must not accept a status quo that already left behind too many Americans,” said Allan Golston, president of the U.S. program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which sponsored the event.

Key Takeaway: As an established brand, the Atlantic is using its cache to bring together well-known thought leaders — both within the pages of its magazine and virtually — to not only cover timely topics but to drive important conversations forward. What’s even better is that the company is also leveraging these relationships to drive sponsorship revenue.

2. Forbes

Forbes - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: Forbes

Forbes is known for its business coverage and popular lists like “The World’s Billionaires” and “30 and under 30,” but the company also has a longstanding events business.

For the last few years, the company has hosted a CIO Summit for technology leaders. Because of COVID-19 and events limitations being what they are, Forbes has transformed its 2020 CIO Summit into a virtual series focused on digital reinvention and how companies can adapt to a radically changing world. The first event in the series, Future-Proofing Businesses For An Era Of Uncertainty, covered how automation and agility have helped companies transition to the “biggest work-from-home experiment ever”  — all while remaining productive and resilient.

Key Takeaway: Though Forbes wasn’t able to provide the collegial, collaborative experience, and networking opportunities that come with an in-person conference. But doing a virtual CIO Summit allowed it to continue to engage this core audience with live and on-demand events containing valuable information and best practices that could help their careers and their organizations. And when they are able to host in-person events in the future, the success of their virtual events has paved the way for them to blend the two with creative hybrid event ideas

3. The New York Times

The New York Times - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: The New York Times

The New York Times launched its first food festival last year but had to sideline this year’s event until 2021. 

Anyone who’s ever read Mark Bittman’s columns or baked a pandemic banana bread using a recipe from the Times’ cooking section understands the paper takes its food seriously.

Though there’s no food festival this year, the Times has continued to connect with foodies through several virtual events, including a “Happy Hour” event series that welcomes viewers for cocktails and conversations. On May 21, it held one such virtual event with contributor and Nigerian cookbook author Yewande Komolafe and assistant managing editor Sam Sifton. 

Key Takeaway: Going virtual doesn’t require a massive technology effort. The YouTube-driven “Happy Hour” series has enabled the paper to give its 192,000 NYT Cooking Channel subscribers fresh food-related content — without a lot of heavy lifting — even though they’ll have to wait until next year’s festival to actually feel, touch and taste what the NYT Cooking brand has to offer.

4. TechCrunch

TechCrunch - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s bread and butter is startup and technology news, but the company expanded its brand with last year’s launch of its ExtraCrunch subscription service, which offers readers exclusive content, products, and events. ExtraCrunch is designed to generate revenue for the brand, but for subscribers to feel they’re getting what they paid for they need exclusive content, which is why the company unveiled ExtraCrunch Live in April. The virtual event series gives subscribers access to content from tech’s top newsmakers and innovators, including Initialized Capital partners Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian, who also co-founded Reddit. 

Aside from ExtraCrunch, the TC team is partnering with Bizzabo to bring their Disrupt series to the virtual world. 

Key Takeaway: The live Q&A event with Ohanian and Tan, in particular, illustrates TechCrunch’s standing in the industry. Not many companies can give their audience a chance to pepper industry heavyweights with questions during a private event, which proves that virtual events can provide the same level of connectedness and engagement that in-person experiences offer.

5. The Wall Street Journal

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

The Wall Street Journal is, arguably, the leader in business news coverage. The company has leveraged that reputation for years to host annual meetings for CEOs, summits, roundtables, and more.   

In 2018, it launched its Future of Everything Festival, which brought together more than 100 speakers — from Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba to then-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel — for a three-day event focused on topics like AI, equality, sports, and work. 

This year, the festival has gone virtual with online programming spread out over several months. The series kicked off in April with an event focused on “The Future of Interaction.” The most recent event, which took place on July 9, covered “The Future of Equality.” 

Key Takeaway: The Journal’s strategy is smart. It would be impossible to cover three days of programming at the same time online, given people’s short attention spans and Zoom fatigue. Instead, the company is giving readers an opportunity to digest this free content at their own pace. And even though accessing the content comes at no cost to readers, the paper is getting something much more valuable in return — data and qualified leads from attendees who register.

6. The Financial Times

The Financial Times - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: The Financial Times

The Financial Times (FT) has used the pandemic as an opportunity to create a flagship digital event, The Global Boardroom.

In just one month, the paper’s live events team pivoted and put on this global digital conference with 100 speakers and 52,000 attendees from 150 countries. The paper, which established its events business, Financial Times Live, in 2012, has previously organized several conferences focused on digital media, innovation, and other topics. 

The Global Boardroom is divided into two editions (the first of which took place in May). The first edition of the virtual conference brought together leaders to discuss topics ranging from globalization’s impact on value chains to the importance of building resilient and inclusive economies. The event was so successful because it leveraged FT’s “convening power” and relationship with global leaders and decision-makers, according to Orson Francescone, managing director of FT Live. 

Key Takeaway: With three tiers of paid access, the company has used The Global Boardroom to drive revenue, even though its live events business is currently at a standstill. Francescone points to a silver lining that many companies may realize when they launch their own virtual conference.

“I don’t see the same level of pricing power we are able to charge for physical events… but we now have unlimited inventory and seats in our virtual conference rooms. We can sell infinite tickets to a global audience. That is pretty powerful. Revolutionary, even,” Francescone said in a recent interview.

7. The Washington Post

The Washington Post - Media Publisher Virtual Events

Source: The Washington Post

Even before the pandemic, the Washington Post had a hybrid events strategy that included both virtual and live events. That effort has ramped into overdrive and the paper is now doing four to five events a week that attracts 50,000 to 75,000 viewers each. 

One of those events includes a new series called “The Path Forward”, where reporters interview leaders in different industries to discuss how the pandemic is affecting them and what they see as the path forward to get to a new normal.

The paper has smartly broken up the 30-minute live interviews into bite-sized videos focused on different topics that viewers can engage with on-demand if they can’t attend the event live. Kris Coratti, vice president of communications for The Washington Post and head of its live events business, said in a recent podcast interview that these kinds of virtual events are designed to serve as an extension of the Post’s news brand, “convening people to experience that reporting unfolding live,” she said. 

Key Takeaway: By focusing on high-level guests, the Post essentially already has a built-in audience who is interested in what these newsmakers have to say, which may be why thousands of people are tuning in each week to the Path Forward and other virtual events. 

8. Bloomberg Media

Source: Twitter

Bloomberg has hosted 17 virtual events since March. Similar to the Wall Street and Financial Times, the company has capitalized on its reputation in the business community to convene CEO and business titans and attract an audience to its virtual events. 

One example: The Bloomberg Breakaway CEO Town Hall series, which the company launched on May 1. The event featured Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the global communications firm Edelman, Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, Carol Massar, co-anchor of Bloomberg Businessweek Bloomberg Television and Radio, and Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company (and the real-life inspiration for Scandal’s Olivia Pope). These business leaders shared advice and strategies for how other CEOs could lead their companies through this unprecedented time. 

Key Takeaway: With this virtual event and others in the series, Bloomberg has essentially created an exclusive online club for CEOs that extends the offerings of its Bloomberg Breakaway brand, a network the company has created for CEO and business leaders at fast-growing companies. Other companies who have built existing online communities can use the same tactic to fill their virtual event pipeline. 

Wrapping Up: What You Can Learn from These Publishers

These publishers demonstrate how to successfully pivot when live events are no longer an option. However, by doing so, they’ve laid the groundwork for an effective hybrid events strategy once in-person events can resume safely.

From the New York Times to Bloomberg, these companies are leveraging their convening power to bring together the best and brightest minds in the country and are using virtual event ideas as an extension of their news brand to connect with and further their target audience. Though these efforts emerged or ramped up because of the crisis, these publishers are proving that sometimes companies do their best work under fire.

Top 10 COVID-19 Resources for Event Marketers

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed event marketing as we know it. Here are 10 COVID-19 resources that can help.

As the months press on, it’s become clear that COVID-19 is not going anywhere any time soon. To help you continue navigating this unprecedented time, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular assets from the Bizzabo blog and elsewhere.

1. How to LEAD the Way Through COVID-19 and Beyond

These are unprecedented times and businesses need a solid roadmap for how to move forward.

That’s why we developed LEAD, a data-driven framework that helps event marketers navigate current changes in the industry. In this article, Bizzabo CEO and Co-Founder Eran Ben-Shushan shares how to successfully reshape your organization’s event strategy.

LEAD stands for:

  • Long term: Marketers should develop a forward-looking, long-term events strategy beyond 2020.
  • Engaging: As your organization embraces a hybrid events strategy, your biggest challenge will be making virtual events just as engaging as in-person events. Technology will be critical to bridging this gap.
  • Agile: Budget cuts will force marketers to do more with less, so it’s crucial that you be more agile and creative as you shift your strategy.
  • Decisive: In this changing landscape, success will go to the swift. As a marketer, you’ll need to be bold and quick in your decision-making to achieve your customer retention, lead generation and prospect engagement goals.

There’s still so much uncertainty as it relates to the pandemic. If your organization is still figuring out how to adapt, this framework is a good starting point.

2. The COVID-19 Event Outlook Report

More than 42% of event and marketing professionals say COVID-19 has led to layoffs, furloughs or team members being reassigned, while 57% had to pivot to virtual events because of the pandemic.

That’s just a snapshot of the findings from our COVID-19 Event Outlook Report, in which we

surveyed 400 event and marketing professionals to gauge how the pandemic is affecting the industry today — and the impact it’ll have tomorrow.

Check out the report to read the complete results and to learn how other companies are adapting, and how you can, too.

3. 4 Stats That Point to the Future of Events After COVID-19  

Are marketers hopeful that in-person events will return? Will they make virtual events a core part of their strategy going forward? Do you not have the time to pour through the whole COVID-19 Event Outlook Report?

Event-stats-covid-19-virtual-events-min

The four stats in this article point to what the “new normal” will look like for the events community. This article also highlights what opportunities your organization can seize to better engage and build your audience for the long term.

4. Canceling Your Event: 8 Examples from Leading Brands

If you pushed back your event or conference from the spring to the fall but are still weighing whether to cancel it, it’s important to communicate this in a timely manner to event attendees.

Attendees primarily care about three things: why you’ve decided to cancel, whether the event will take place at a later date, and whether and when they’ll get a refund or credit. There’s a right and wrong way to communicate these details, and Amazon, Google, and South by Southwest (SXSW) show how you can communicate an event cancellation in a straightforward, empathetic way. Check out their cancellation announcements for some pointers.

5. Postponing Your Event: 5 Examples from Leading Brands

“The health and safety of our customers, employees, and partners is our highest priority.”

That’s how experience management software company Qualtrics began its announcement when it told attendees it was cancelling X4, one of its marquee events.

Deciding to postpone an event in which you’ve invested time and resources is never easy, but Qualtrics and the four other brands in this article illustrate that companies can do a little more than just send attendees a standard, “check-the-box” corporate announcement.

6. Pivoting to Virtual Events: 10 Examples from Leading Brands

Our COVID-19 Event Outlook survey of event marketers indicates that many of them are set to do a complete 180, from making virtual events a marginal part of their events strategy to a core component of how they engage customers and prospects.

If you’re pivoting in the same way, these 10 brands showcase how you can do it successfully. Case in point: Salesforce. The company pivoted its mega-in person event, Salesforce World Tour Sydney, to a virtual event with 100 on-demand sessions and video playlists organized by topic, creating content that will live online (seemingly) forever and continue to generate leads for and valuable engagement for the company.

how-to-launch-a-vitual-conference-salesforce-min

Source: Salesforce

7. Virtual Conference Guide

If you’re looking for a more robust resource about how to shift to virtual events, launch a virtual conference, establish success metrics, and more, our Virtual Conference Guide has got you covered.

how-to-launch-a-vitual-conference-hybrid-graph-min

In-person events will eventually return, and our guide provides a game plan for how to successfully execute a hybrid events strategy. If you’re not sure of the difference between a webinar and virtual event, need to learn how to keep attendees engaged or how to reel in sponsors, this guide will give you a roadmap.

8. Virtual Events 2020 – The #1 List

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive list of virtual events in 2020, you’ll find it right here.

Organized by month, the list features virtual events from companies across different industries, including can’t-miss-events like Dell Technologies World 2020, the Spark Festival for start-ups, investors and innovators, and more niche events like the Auto Insurance USA Virtual Summit.

Are you hosting a B2B event that you’d like to get in front of 200,000+ monthly blog readers? You can submit your event to be featured here.

9. (Almost) IN-PERSON On-Demand 

Just like the companies we serve have pivoted, so have we. More than 6,000 participants from 70 countries and over 1,500 companies attended our first-ever virtual event, (Almost) In-Person.

The event not only fostered a sense of community and creative collaboration during a time when most event marketers have had to social distance, it also gave the community a chance to learn from marketers at leading brands and assemble best practices for how they also can reshape their strategy and be more agile in the midst of a global pandemic.

10. Comprehensive Guide to Coronavirus and Events 

We began developing this guide in March and it has evolved along the way just as the situation in the larger world has continued to change.

It features best practices for postponing or canceling your event and the steps you can take to protect the health of attendees if you plan to throw an in-person event this year. We’ll continue to update it with the latest guidance from health authorities and best practices and examples from leading brands, so think of it as your one-stop shop for all things related to COVID-19’s impact on the events industry and how you can best respond.

Wrapping Up: Beyond COVID-19 

Companies all across the world are navigating uncharted territory when it comes to planning events. They not only have to develop an effective hybrid events strategy, they also must potentially deal with more limited resources to execute this strategy — all the while ensuring that they keep both employees and attendees safe.

It’s a tall order, but we’re seeing many companies meet the moment. In the process, they’re keeping the conversation going, delivering value for prospects and customers, and charting a path for others in the events industry to follow.

Making the jump to virtual? Check out the Virtual Event Production Kit for access to exclusives templates for making a virtual event happen.

7 Must-know Virtual Event Benchmarks

We analyzed proprietary data from over 210 virtual events and 799 sessions that occurred between March and June 2020. Here’s what we learned.

In response to COVID-19, thousands of event organizers and brands have turned to virtual events to build communities and drive business goals. At Bizzabo alone, we have seen seen hundreds of virtual events launch every month through our Virtual Experience Solution

The thing is: You can find plenty of benchmarks on in-person events but it’s tough to find benchmarks for virtual events.

So we decided to do something about it.

We analyzed proprietary data from from over 210 virtual events and 799 sessions that occurred between March 15th and June 22, 2020 on our platform. The result is a comprehensive list of benchmarks regarding registrations, engagement, and content programming.

See for yourself below!

1. 80% of virtual event registrations are free

One of the main benefits of virtual events is the ability to expand a brand’s audience reach. The majority (80%) of virtual events registrations in 2020 have been free, which has removed barriers for registrants who would otherwise not attend a virtual event. 

Over the last four months, we’ve seen a small percentage of revenue-driving virtual events with 20% of paid virtual event registrations in the last four months. We expect this to grow as the quality of virtual events increases and attendees become more educated around the value of this channel.

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Majority are free registrations

2. The average price for a paid virtual event in June 2020 was $254 USD

The average ticket price for a virtual event in June was $254. This is down from $368 ticket price in May and a $511 ticket price in April. At first glance this is a little surprising. We’d expect the price to go up overtime. 

But the reality is that we are still in the early stage of virtual events. This downward trend of virtual event ticket pricing suggests that event marketers are working to break down barriers of entry to allow more registrants to attend and participate in their virtual events.

We will continue to follow the average virtual event ticket price month-over-month to see how it evolves over time.

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Steady decrease in ticket pricing

3.  Over half of virtual event registrants convert to virtual event attendees

While “virtual fatigue” may be a real phenomenon, it’s hard to tell by looking at the events industry. We’re seeing a very high average event conversion rate (54%) from registrant to virtual event attendee.

Why? While it’s hard to say, we believe that content programming that is highly relevant to a specific virtual audience along with ample opportunities for attendee engagement may take some of the credit.

4. The average attendee watches 68% of a virtual session

From our data we’re seeing that—for all virtual sessions that are 20 minutes or longer—the average attendee is tuning in for the majority (68%) of the session. That’s huge!

Similar to the above conversion rate stat, this suggests that many event marketers are doing something right when it comes to programming virtual content. Perhaps more importantly, this also suggests that remote audiences are currently eager to engage with virtual experiences.

We already know from the COVID-19 Event Outlook Report that engagement is a key metric for success with virtual experiences so it’s great to see that so many experiences are, well, keeping their audiences engaged.

5. The average number of sessions per virtual event is 12

To complement our high average watch time per attendees, we’re also seeing an average of 12 sessions per virtual event. In case you needed a reminder of how virtual events differ from webinars, here you go. Among other differences, webinars are typically comprised of single panels or sessions.

Virtual events provide a unique opportunity to provide a diverse array of sessions and event types—including keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats, workshops, roundtables, happy hours, and entertainment—allowing event organizers to explore a variety of sessions during one virtual event.

6. 58% of virtual sessions are smaller and more interactive.

More than half (58%) of virtual sessions we’ve seen rely heavily on an interactive environment allowing attendees to go “on stage” and participate. These sessions tend to be smaller and more intimate, capping at 300 live attendees. 

Larger sessions that are broadcast in a keynote format make up a smaller percentage (14%) of event sessions. These broadcast level virtual sessions limit interaction between the stage and attendees to text-based activities like a live Q&A or polling, in favor of reaching larger audiences.

In addition to the intimate and webcasting trends above, we’re also seeing a small percentage (18%) of event marketers taking advantage of the variety of video players—like YouTube and Vimeo—and embedding them into the session home of their virtual event. This allows for more flexibility when determining which video player to use for live streaming or on-demand sessions. 

7. 62% of virtual events are a single-day event

Of the over 210 virtual events analyzed in our latest report, we saw that the majority (62%) of virtual events were single-day events. Considering that the average virtual event features 12 sessions, it appears many organizers are investing in single-day events with multiple or concurrent sessions.

We’re also seeing that three-day virtual events comprise the second largest percentage (10.5%) of virtual events followed by two-day events which comprise a slightly small percentage. 

It’s worth noting that while single-day to three-day events make up the majority of virtual events currently, we are also seeing some brands, like Social Media Week, experiment with events that last for a longer amount of time. 

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Single-day events are the most popular

Wrapping Up: Embracing Virtual Events

These virtual event stats illustrate the importance of connecting people, communities, and organizations through events. It’s clear that virtual events are breaking down the barriers of place by offering a digital venue for anyone to connect and attendees around the world are responding by engaging deeply in content. The challenge for event organizers is balancing the right registration experience, technology, event type, and sessions to bring people together in powerful and impactful ways.

As we continue to gather data on virtual events, we can expect to see increasing amounts of innovation from virtual event strategies, virtual event production, and virtual event tools that help event marketers create meaningful experiences.

Additionally, we expect to see hybrid events, which are a mixture of both in-person and virtual experiences, as well as in-person events launching in tandem with country by country health guidelines. 

Looking for more insights? Check out our Post-COVID Event Outlook Report to discover how other event organizers are responding to today’s most pressing health crisis.