Nothing beats the connections you make at real-life events. Well, you could be wrong, as an expert consultant and business strategist, Chelsea Cox, explained to us at our latest Creative Impact Roundtable event. True, there is a certain buzz you get from the opening day of events, but can this “buzz” be transferred into the online world?
“I’ve had great success leading various online events – big and small!” Chelsea tells us. Chelsea knows what’s when hosting an unforgettable event with a wealth of experience within the events industry and the wellness space. She also knows what’s “not” what.
Misconceptions around online events
A major misconception that she’s confronted with daily when planning virtual events is that they don’t make money. Or that if you were to sell tickets, they need to be at a low price point. We’d be lying to say that there isn’t a different mindset towards the price of a real-life versus an online event ticket, but online events can most definitely be profitable. The critical thing to remember is how you can make your event different? What makes your event better than all of the others out there?
“Remember that you are YOU, and that is your superpower,” Chelsea affirms, “you have your voice and experiences to share and your network to share them with.”
There is always room for more events if only you unlock what makes yours unique. Like real-life events, quality will always trump quantity, so it’s essential to think about the real value that your event offers to your attendees. Don’t simply throw anything and everything that you have at your even in hopes of making it top-notch; take time to think outside the box and find what makes your audience tick. (Keep an eye on the competition to see how they’re hosting events, what they’re talking about).
And stay aligned to your business ideals and morals: credibility is earned, and people are willing to pay for content when they believe in you.
Such can be said about Dr. Hazel Wallace’s latest event, which had to switch to being online due to the pandemic. “The “Future of Food [event] is always an intimate event (below 500 people) … It’s always a higher-priced ticket, but the quality of content is exceptional,” Chelsea says that this was a real challenge and test to see if these tickets could see online. But they showed their ability to pivot online for the 2020 edition, and they were able to double the capacity. After an initial drop-off, they were able to grab the global demographic and sell a lot more tickets, plus they were able to offer recordings of the event.
So, you have an audience that believes in you, but how can you create that engagement and forge those connections that happen so initially face to face?
First thing’s first, Chelsea reminds us of the importance of a well-thought-through timeline. Understand the time needed to create excitement for your event and leave yourself the time to generate enough sales – about three months should do it. If that seems a lot longer than you’d anticipated, you’re not alone but can say a lot from having more time to plan and engage. What you talk about in the lead-up also has a significant impact on ticket sales. You’re not just selling a ticket, but an experience. What problems will you solve for your audience? What can you teach them that no one else can?
Engagement is also something that comes from your speakers and panelists, who often need reminders (just like for real-life events). Make their lives as easy as possible; provide speakers with all the assets they need to promote the event and bring their engagement to the bag. If possible, you may also think about paying your speakers for extra enticement.
With the event almost coming up, it’s time to think about getting your attendees as engaged as possible! “In the lead up: ask the honest questions to your audience and find out what they want to get out of the event. What do they want to learn? How do they want to feel?” These will act as pillars for discussion throughout the event.
Camera on or camera off?
Our founder, Fab, comments that “when there is a panel, we can get a better flow and engagement through webinar-style as we can more easily track the questions.” However, you also have to be a confident host/moderator ask the right questions. Chelsea agrees that “people ask questions more easily with their camera off and ask questions that they wouldn’t feel as comfortable in real-life stations.” For small sessions and interactive workshops, think about having cameras to create a personal connection and gauge their reactions.
The benefits of hosting online
It’s already becoming apparent that there is a lot to be said for hosting an online event, and Chelsea jokes that a huge bonus is “not having to build the event and be onsite until 1 AM!”. Jokes aside, there are real benefits to the online space, and we can go as far as possible to create that event buzz with technology.
- Target a global audience: this is HUGE for brands to target a broader demographic, excellent for any business.
- Fewer costs: with COVID, there is no doubt tighter restrictions and legislations for future events; having an online space removes these costs.
- The ability to make more money: a broader demographic means you can sell more tickets for no extra work or expenses.
- Repurposing materials: recording talks is one way to share the content across any number of platforms and continue to event buzz.
- The introduction of hybrid events: space is changing, and there will be a time soon where in-person events will have an online option to reach a global audience.
The future of events
Aside from hybrid events, we want to know what the event space in 2021 will look like. Chelsea starts with diversity and inclusion “while these should already be important pillars for any event, they will start to be monitored from an exhibition perspective.” She also comments that on the massive rise in the number of virtual platforms worldwide to create GREAT online events.
It seems that hybrid events, i.e., the events that merge in-person real-life experiences with the ability to watch from the comfort of your own home from the other side of the world, is the way forward for the event space. Chelsea believes it is the only way for the event sector to recover after such a turbulent year or so. Next time you plan your event, we hope Chelsea’s words of wisdom help you create the best and most engaged buzz yet.
Take advantage of the world of online events and join us at the Reclaim Your Time Off festival 10-11th May – find out more here.
You can also find out more about Chelsea on her social media.
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Amy is a plant-based food blogger, recipe developer and content creator behind Nourishing Amy. She focuses on food, health and happiness to promote a nourishing lifestyle and regularly shares her positive vibes, inspirational affirmations and food creations on her social media channels and her website.