(Hypebot) — As the pandemic persists and winter draws nearer, online and virtual events are here to stay, like it or not. Fortunately, more than half a year in, we’ve had a chance to gather some feedback on what makes these events work – from the actual attendees themselves.
Guest post from Eventbrite
As COVID-19 has forced us into our homes and out of event spaces, we’ve gotten used to a new normal. Zoom and Facetime have replaced our dinner parties and yoga classes, and while we’ve all felt some growing pains while adjusting, it turns out that online events actually have some benefits. We asked our event attendees via a survey to tell us how they really feel about shifting from bottomless brunches and run clubs to virtual meditation and online tasting events, and gathered some tips and tricks along the way that will help you host your best online event yet.
Online events are here to stay
We’ve found that most creators are eager to continue hosting online events, even after social distancing guidelines have eased up. The wide audience they’ve been able to reach paired with low overhead costs makes online events a no-brainer for a well-rounded business model. But online events aren’t just a win for creators — they’re also a boon for consumers looking for a new kind of event experience.
In a survey Eventbrite conducted with people who’ve attended multiple online events in the past six months, we found that consumers weren’t actually as disappointed in being forced into the virtual realm as we might have thought. Although attendees would rather not rely on virtual experiences in the long-term for socializing and networking events, and didn’t want to miss out on the live experience of concerts, theater, and the arts, they were willing to take classes and educational events virtually. “I like workshops and courses online because I’m a fan of doing things at my own pace,” says one attendee.
This was in part due to the ease of these online events, which allow people to skip a long commute to an event space and instead enjoy an event from the comfort of their own home. They can also multi-task, which frees up a lot of mental space. Turns out, tons of attendees will gladly listen in on a panel discussion while cooking dinner — and those attendees might not have had the time to spare for an event that took them out of their homes.
Preparation is key for your online event’s success
One thing that came up frequently with surveyed attendees was clarity. These consumers appreciated creators who had a clear plan for their event. Their tech was squared away (we have tips for making sure your set-up is perfect here!) and they had an agenda they were working from. One thing that could easily make your online event a success? Plan a run-through with key participants before you reach event day. As one attendee we interviewed said: “I wish more people did walkthroughs before events with the panelists — especially if it’s a technology that someone [who is hosting] hasn’t used. I think that would cut back on a lot of difficulties during [the event].”
It’s also important for creators to know their way around the technology they’re using. Even if they’ve presented this content in person many times, translating their event to the virtual space takes some thought and care. “You can tell when a creator is learning as they go,” says one attendee. “A little bit of practice with the material goes a long way.”
Ensure entry is easy
There was also a big focus on accessing the event, with an emphasis put on the importance of clear-cut instructions for how to join the video platform for the event. “Oftentimes, the information to join isn’t in the calendar invite that they populate,” another attendee said. “The biggest frustration for me is ease of entry.” Consider adding your event link to a calendar invitation, or sending out a reminder email an hour before your event with the event link, password, and any other pertinent information that your attendees may need to access your event on time.
To make your event and life easy, try out Eventbrite’s Zoom integration. Our new Zoom app is fully integrated with Eventbrite, which means a better experience for both you and your attendees. The app allows you to easily create an Eventbrite event that pulls in details from your Zoom Webinar or Meeting and syncs registrants from Eventbrite back into Zoom. With this feature, a reminder email goes out automatically (three times — 2 days, 2 hours, and 10 minutes before the event begins), so you don’t have to worry about communicating with your attendees or worry about them not gaining access to the event.
Learn more about your attendees
Some creators even included a pre-event survey to get a better idea of their consumers’ priorities, making it easier to tailor the event content to their audience. Pre-event surveys allow you to know exactly what your attendees are looking for, and to make sure you provide them with that value so they’ll keep coming back for more. Even sending two simple questions will help you learn about your audience: What are you expecting out of this event, and what do you hope to take away from this event.
Whether they’re book lovers or crafting experts, our creators launch events because they want to bring people together. What they might not have expected is that online events would help them connect with even more people — in a whole new way. Even when in-person events resume, the powerful sense of connection that we get from online events surely isn’t going anywhere. As one attendee said: “In so many occasions after I attend an event, my feedback is usually ‘I hope you keep doing this online.’ [One event] is based in the UK. The concerts I often go to every other week are in Chicago. I would [otherwise] never be able to go.”