How to Create an Engaging Virtual Event Experience

If you look at pictures of the Magic Castle Hotel in LA, you’ll find that the rooms are dated, and the pool is about the size of a regular backyard pool. There’s no on-site gym and no elevator access to the hotel’s second floor. Despite these downsides, it is one of the top-rated hotels on Tripadvisor. Why? Because the staff at the Magic Castle Hotel have learned the importance of creating a memorable experience for guests.

For instance, when at the pool, you can pick up the red phone hanging nearby for the “popsicle hotline.” Place an order, and a popsicle is carried out to you on a silver tray at no charge. The Magic Castle Hotel also has a snack menu and will deliver snacks like Cheetos or Root Beer at no cost, as well as a Board Game menu and a DVD menu, both of which can be loaned at — you guessed it — no cost. 

The result of this phenomenal customer service is that families are generally willing to overlook the dated rooms and lack of room service because when they stay at the Magic Castle Hotel, they’re treated like royalty. They walk away with almost no memory of the size of the pool; what they do remember is the experience at the hotel. 

But what does any of this have to do with virtual event planning? 

Creating an amazing experience isn’t limited to hotels. If you want event attendees to remember your event — and rave about it to others — the key is not just to do a good job. The key is to create an engaging virtual event experience that will stand out in their minds. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Keys to Create a Great Virtual Event Experience for Attendees

The power of online experiences isn’t about every moment in an event. Instead, they’re driven by breakout moments when you go above and beyond what attendees expected. If you’re looking to create a virtual event experience, consider the importance of making the most of your virtual space and creating a highly immersive environment.

Make the Most of Your Virtual Venue and Design Platform

The first step in your event strategy should be choosing the right live-streaming event platform. Once you’ve chosen your virtual event platform, you can start making that platform work for you. Booking virtual booths, hosting breakout sessions for attendees, and offering on-demand sessions are great strategies to turn regular events into interactive experiences. 

Book Virtual Booths

A virtual booth is a contained space within a larger event. Their goal is to facilitate meaningful conversations between attendees.

Often, a virtual booth allows attendees to book one-on-one time with exhibitors, allowing them to directly engage and ask questions or watch a live demonstration. Offering virtual booths is a great event strategy because it helps attendees feel more involved with the material. 

This is especially true at something like a virtual conference, which can feel hands-off. It’s far too easy for attendees to listen to a webinar while checking their emails or doing work, never really engaging with the event. Virtual booths invite these same attendees to have more hands-on engagement with the session. They may even be more likely to pay attention during webinars if they know that they’ll have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions later in the day. 

For other types of events, virtual booths can act like a back-stage pass for event-goers. For example, if you’re hosting an online concert, a virtual booth can offer the opportunity for attendees to connect with band members. Even if you only offer a few booths with 5-minute chat sessions, this has the opportunity to really enhance your event and make it much more memorable for attendees. 

Host Breakout Sessions for Event Attendees

Similar to virtual booths, breakout sessions are segments of larger virtual meetings or conferences that segment the event into smaller groups. For example, your virtual events might have a seminar that everyone attends. They may then break into multiple groups for discussions or further learning. 

Breakout sessions can help your event program feel more like a physical event, where walking around and engaging in smaller groups would be the norm. More importantly, attendees may feel more comfortable engaging in small group settings than in larger groups, which can make the event more impactful for them. 

One great way to do breakout sessions is to offer short classes that attendees can choose between. For example, if your event is a conference for first-time parents, you could include three short seminars at the same time: one on car seat safety, one on sleep safety, and one on holding a baby. Attendees could even rotate between the sessions, allowing them to get the benefits from each breakout session while learning in a comfortable setting. 

Offer On-Demand Sessions for Virtual Attendees

One thing about virtual events that makes them so enjoyable is their added convenience and flexibility. On-demand sessions, which allow attendees to re-watch sessions they attended or missed, are one benefit that virtual events can offer.

Make the most of your event production by ensuring attendees have access to sessions on-demand. For example, if you do choose to host breakout sessions and have two different lessons streaming simultaneously, ensure that attendees can still watch whichever session they didn’t attend. On-demand sessions can be helpful for event-goers who need more time to take notes or simply want to get the most bang for their buck. 

Make Your Online Event an Immersive Experience

To really make the most of your virtual event experience, your virtual platform needs to be as immersive as possible. Look online for virtual event ideas that make sense for the types of events you’re running; pay special attention to virtual event examples that had an immersive quality. Interactive features and hybrid event options can help your virtual event experience really stand out for your attendees. And, of course, it’s important to track session attendance to learn what works. 

Enhance the Attendee Experience with Interactive Features

Depending on your virtual platform, there are numerous interactive features you can use to make virtual events more exciting for attendees. For example, you can allow for audience participation by enabling chat room features and having exhibitors reply to comments in real-time. Another option is to create virtual games and competitions that people can participate in as part of the overall virtual event experience. 

Track Session Attendance to Learn What Works

One of the challenges of hosting virtual events is knowing what works and what doesn’t. Tracking session attendance can give you the feedback you’re looking for to boost things that worked, adjust things that didn’t work, and continue building better virtual experiences for your event attendees. 

Consider Hosting an In-Person Event or Hybrid Event in Parallel

Although there are many things to love about virtual events, it can be difficult for online experiences alone to create the memories you want your attendees to have. Hosting in-person or hybrid events in tandem with online events can help your attendees get the best of both worlds. 

For example, integrating with EveryChallenge to create a fitness challenge for event attendees can bring a physical element into an otherwise online experience. Individual races can make attendees excited to attend virtual events to receive accolades while team races can turn online conferences into memorable social events with a competitive edge. 

Another example of a hybrid event model is to send coffee and snacks to the workplaces that have signed employees up for virtual conferences. This emulates in-person conference experiences — which would normally include snacks — while allowing employees to attend the event from the comfort of their own office. 

Create a Memorable Experience with Software for Virtual Event Planners

Using the right software can help virtual event planners curate a tailored experience worth remembering. 

Promotional tools can help event planners send out customized invitations, generating hype before your virtual event begins. They can sell tickets online before the event starts, which can give them a good idea about the number of attendees. This also allows them to plan for more exhibitors, if needed, to make breakout sessions and virtual booths as successful as possible. 

Real-time data and analytics show virtual event planners what’s working and what isn’t, allowing them to make adjustments so each new event is better than before. Ultimately, the right software can help planners create online events that attendees are truly excited to attend. 

Turn Virtual Events into Memorable Experiences

If there’s anything to learn from the Magic Castle Hotel in LA, it’s that memorable experiences don’t have to be expensive or flashy. Event planners can create memorable virtual events by using event planning software to creatively engage event attendees as much as possible. 

Use today to learn more about planning virtual or hybrid events that attendees will be excited to participate in. Our tools can help you build community, adding value to your online events with ease. Our customer service team is standing by, ready to help you bring your virtual event dream to fruition.