These 12 Corporate Events Need To Go Virtual in 2021

December 15, 2020
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Whether we’re talking about conferences, retreats, networking happy hours, or trade shows, corporate events bring people together. Company events create and strengthen interpersonal relationships that otherwise couldn’t exist within a business environment. 

These events can be made even more important, beneficial, accessible, and engaging by going virtual in 2021.

What Is a Corporate Event?

In its simplest form, a corporate event refers to company events that are business, social, hospitality, or team-building in character and are organized and paid for by an organization.

A holiday party, a product launch, a board meeting, or other event celebrating a milestone or team achievements are all examples of corporate events.

Most often focused on information exchange, communication, and team-building exercises, these events can range in attendance from just a few few to a few thousand, spanning a couple of hours to several days.

Common Types of Corporate Events

Corporate Investor Meeting and Reporting Meetings1. Large-scale Events Like Conferences and Seminars

Conferences and seminars are a way for organizations to convey information to a target audience. These events are typically used for participant education or as an engagement vehicle.

Conferences can last one or several days. They often feature multiple keynote speakers and breakout sessions that allow for more in-depth engagement and learning.

Marketing and sales departments can benefit dramatically from virtual conferences, including increased lead and demand generation and of course, digitally attributable revenue growth. 

Moz hosts an annual marketing conference that connects marketers with industry leaders. It leverages that conference to cultivate audience engagement through interactive expert Q&A and breakout sessions, in addition to other conference features.

Conferences and seminars are arguably the most popular type of corporate events.

As Canada’s largest technology conference, Collision Conference 2020 is an example of a large-scale virtual conference. This year it brought in more than 30,000 participants and expects to pull in even more in 2021.

2. Product Launches

Product launches are an essential method for attracting customers and gaining market momentum for your product.

Stratasys, a 3D printing and Additive Manufacturer, hosted their first-ever virtual launch this summer with great success, reaching an audience of almost 4,000.

3. Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are important corporate events because they allow people who don’t usually have an opportunity to interact together the chance to socialize and connect. These rapport-building company events can be effective methods of staff, client, and audience engagement. 

Winter is the perfect season for informal company events, with multiple holidays occurring around the same time, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Saint Nicholas Day, Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, Yule (Winter Solstice), and New Year’s. 

4. Product and Service Education Meetings With Customers and Clients To Generate Sales

Corporate celebrations such as milestones, certifications, etc.Business meeting events, such as educational conferenc

es, can be an ideal way to help clients and customers make the shift to educated buyers. 

Through corporate events like product and service education meetings, clients and customers often experience increased product satisfaction because they learned about it prior to purchasing. 

Education events can be especially important for technical products or in other areas that require product comprehension from the customer. 

Pharmaceutical sales reps, in particular, can benefit from virtual sessions that offer increased scheduling availability and easier accessibility to supporting documentation, video, and other engagement tools.

Check out how SpotMe helps healthcare professionals transition to virtual events

5. Virtual Company Retreats For Team Building

Retreats combine business meeting events with social situations to optimize team-building. Often spread over multiple days, virtual company retreats concentrate evenly on business and fun to maximize benefit. 

Virtual retreats can not only boost morale, but they can also foster incredible productivity and creativity. 

With events ranging from training and education, to puzzles, team trivia competitions, karaoke, yoga, meditation, and more, virtual retreats offer something for everyone with a great ROI.

6. Celebratory Meetings of Company Milestones and Successes

Company milestones are essential to celebrate. It’s vital to thank team members who’ve contributed to reaching an important milestone. 

Communicating appreciation for staff that helped you reach a milestone you couldn’t have done alone doesn’t have to be complicated. Throw a thank you party at your workplace with a virtual option to ensure remote, or traveling employees aren’t missed.

7. Trade Shows

Trade shows offer great lead generation value in addition to developing and reinforcing brand identity. 

Trade shows are also an exceptional way to showcase your product or service alongside industry leaders, making an influential association for attendees.

The International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultant’s (IIBEC) 2020 Virtual Trade Show was a smashing example of these types of corporate events. In addition to a two-day virtual trade show, the event featured 23 hours of educational seminars and live product demonstrations. 

8. Charity Events

Corporate charity events are not only an outstanding opportunity for businesses to give back to their community, but they’re also great for team building and brand development.

Silent auctions, online voting events, virtual conferences, or a company happy hour are easy ways to help raise money for a worthwhile cause with a charitable event.

9. Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development is key to continued growth for both organizations and individuals. Regardless of industry, keeping current with trends and technology is not nice to have, it’s essential. 

Education sessions are a common form of professional development, with many organizations and learning facilities offering programs geared to industry professionals. 

edX is just one example of how professionals with tight schedules can continue their education regardless of location, calendar, and (often) financial constraints.

10. Reporting Meetings (Internal, Client, Board, Investors)

Corporate Meetings and Partnership Events

Reporting meetings are an integral part of corporate life. The information they convey is often time-sensitive and highly relevant to business operations, whether it’s internal, for clients, the board, or your investors.

When businesses are small, scheduling reporting meetings isn’t a great challenge, but when you have multiple teams operating with numerous deadlines and directives, aligning everyone who must attend can be a headache. 

Virtual events can offer greater accessibility for offsite personnel, with on-demand video options for those unable to attend the event live.

11. Virtual Networking Events

If you’re in business, you network. Successful businesses depend on a robust and diverse network.

From seminars to social events, virtual networking can occur at any place you interact with people within your target audience. 

Virtual networking events allow organizations to expand beyond physical boundaries to extend their reach globally.

Recommended Reading: 20 Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtual Networking Event

12. Partnership and Client Onboarding

Every new hire, every new partnership is an investment in your organization. That’s why ensuring everyone coming in has a comprehensive understanding of your business and their role within it. 

A single, one-on-one meeting can chew up significant chunks of executive calendars, not to mention human resources and investor or partner relations departments. 

With virtual partnership and client onboarding, live meetings can be seamlessly interjected with prerecorded, on-demand videos that convey vital information and allow the business to keep moving. 

Why Corporate Events are Important

Your organization is more vital because of the people and processes it supports. 

Through company events, your business can reap the benefits of higher employee and client engagement and retention (happier people stay longer), improved creativity, productivity, and company morale. 

Organization events like the ones we’ve looked at here can help you cultivate a cohesive team that is as passionate about your business as you are.

Try the SpotMe Virtual Event Platform For Your Next Corporate Event.

How to take your event from in-person to online

The first thing to note is that you are not alone in asking this question. One estimate we recently heard was that around 66% of event and meeting planners have never hosted a virtual webinar2

With this statistic in mind, we created these 4 recommendations:

#1 – Build a connected and virtual appropriate agenda 

With an in-person event/meeting, you take the audience out of their day-to-day reality and put them in a dedicated space. With virtual events, especially in these times, this is not the case.

For many of your audience, working from home for prolonged periods is probably a new reality. Plus, most are doing so with other members of their household, including roommates, children, etc. So the potential distractions are infinite and inevitable.

One way to combat this is to think about how much time, realistically, you can grab the attention of your audience. And for this exercise, it is useful to look at the webinar (the only time we should use webinars as a benchmark). What we find is that the most popular webinars last for 60 minutes3

TIP: Remember to take into account the different time zones of your audience

So when it comes to thinking about our virtual agenda, it makes sense to think in bite-sized chunks, that are both accessible and digestible to your audience. This means smaller sections of content, over a longer period of time.

But how do you keep people interested over a longer period? Quite simply you need to give them a reason to attend in the first place, and then a reason to keep coming back for more.

One way to solve this problem is to leverage challenges (a.k.a gamification). Leveraging this kind of interactivity gives you several options, including asking people which topics they want to hear about (could drive feed Q&A activity), give networking a head start by asking people to connect pre-event, drive people to specific content after the event, and give people mini-challenges and assignments with feedback or answers given in the next session.

Get our top advice for boosting attendance and participation.

Virtual event gamification

 

#2 – Remember the new psychology of your audience

In times of crisis, like the COVID-19 outbreak, you need to remember that the psychology of your audience is changed. For example, the normal attention span is on average 20 minutes, but during a crisis, this is reduced to 12 minutes and further people can only remember three key points4.

What does all this mean? Well, quite simply, it is vital that your content is clear and concise. 

Read the 3 keys to preparing your speakers

#3 – Make it easier for your planning team

It is not just your audience that is impacted in a crisis, it is also your team and colleagues. What this means is that the attention, focus and quite honestly propensity for learning new things is dramatically reduced.

One way to make the pivot to virtual is to leverage technology that is already familiar. This reduces the additional strain of having to learn new technologies as well as thinking differently about virtual.

BONUS: Technology already in your stack has likely already gone through your internal technology review, privacy and data processes

#4 – Funnel your audience into an outcome

With in-person events, you might have dedicated spaces for learning more, experiencing new things first-hand, etc. With virtual events, you need to make these opportunities happen.

One way to do that is to deploy conversational elements in your virtual experience. Not only do conversational elements feel more natural to your audience, but they present the chance to ask outcome-based questions, for example, “Would you like someone to follow-up with you?”, or “Would you like to learn more?”.

 

Virtual event conversation feedback

 

What technology should I use?

You could turn to the webinar. After all, it is the virtual type of event that most of your audience is familiar with. And while this is useful when it comes to thinking about the virtual agenda, the experience is lacking, and will not help you conduct pre-event, during event and post-event engagement of your audience (which is probably the reason the average webinar only gets 44% attendance rate3). A webinar’s strength is very short and standalone content (for example presentations – see these presentation templates).

This is why we just launched a new virtual solution called SpotMe Anywhere, a full virtual package including: 

  • No need to worry about live streaming – our full virtual package includes live streaming set up and execution. One less thing to worry about.
  • Interactivity at the center – the experience is centered around the home feed, like we have come to expect from other amazing experiences, for example, LinkedIn or Facebook. What this does, is it places the emphasis on the host and user-generated content.
  • Challenges become the glue of the virtual event – unlike webinars, SpotMe Anywhere comes with Activity challenges, meaning you can start engaging the audience pre-event and between sessions, to get them to attend and then to come back for more.
  • Host session breakouts – when you want to break out, no problem. Let your audience choose which breakout they want to attend.
  • Registration built-in – no need to build separate virtual event registration, we have that included. Bonus: in true SpotMe fashion, you can customize and brand the form.
  • Service and support if you need it – not sure where to start? Never planned or hosted a virtual event before? Our expert service and support team can take you through planning, execution and even training your speakers.

Now you have three virtual options with SpotMe:

SpotMe virtual event platform options

 

From Physical Events to Virtual Events Webinar Video:

From physical to virtual: How to engage remote audiences and do it differently from SpotMe on Vimeo.

Want to experience what SpotMe Anywhere is like? Click here, and go through registration and play around in our virtual event experience.

Want to discuss your virtual event needs? Chat with us on the web, or request a consultation, and we can address any questions you have.

1 – COVID-19: Implications for business, Mckinsey, Executive Brief, March 2020

2 – Pivot to Virtual, Event Manager Blog, Webinar, March 2020

3 – 10 webinar stats every marketer should know, Go-To-Meeting, Blog, April 2019  

4 – Coronavirus: How to be the leader your people need right now, Bain, March 2016

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