5 Virtual Event Ideas To Make Your Mark in 2021

7 min read

Concepts that will boost your business success in the virtual age

If the events of 2020 proved anything, it’s that digital technology knows no bounds. 

With an internet connection, the right tools, and an innovative mindset, you can connect with clients, customers or employees in ways that deliver real value.  With virtual events, it’s even possible to spark a level of engagement that exceeds physical events.

The virtual events market is on the rise, with more brands, businesses, and organisations than ever looking to create digital gatherings and experiences for their audience.

In fact, in 2020 the amount of businesses launching or developing virtual events doubled. And, according to the same study, 84% of respondents say they spent less on their virtual events than in-person experiences while enjoying a healthy return on investment (ROI).

The age of the virtual event is here and if you embrace the possibilities of offering digital experiences to your customers or employees, you will push yourself ahead of the pack in a time when it matters most.

To help you on your way to virtual event domination, we’re going to explore five forward-thinking virtual event strategies that will help you cut through the noise in 2021, and beyond.

But first, let’s look at a few virtual events trends for 2021.

Virtual staff party
Raise a glass to the Age of The Virtual Event. Hurrah!

The state of virtual events in the hyper-digital age

As we move into an increasingly hyper-connected digital age, the potential for virtual events is enormous.

Digital transformation is on the rise across industries and as mobile app usage continues to skyrocket, a wealth of brands (big or small) will look to offer their consumers immersive experiences at the swipe of a screen or the click of a button.

This year, and beyond, we can expect to see more app-based virtual experiences as well as a rise in hybrid events (that combine in-person with virtual experiences) and virtual gatherings or festivals.

The success of SXSW’s online festival and Zoom’s ‘Zoomtopia’ in 2020 demonstrate the limitless potential of virtual events. As digital technology continues to evolve, virtually-based events and experiences will only continue to become more innovative, more immersive, and more meaningful.

If you are looking to host more virtual events, now is the time to strike—meet the needs of your audience, offer something original, and you will stand out in your niche.

“Every industry and every organisation will have to transform itself in the next few years. What is coming at us is bigger than the original internet and you need to understand it, get on board with it and figure out how to transform your business.”—Tim O’Reilly, tech expert

Virtual team games
“I wish I knew what they can see that is so funny!”

Innovative virtual event ideas for 2021 and beyond

Now that we’ve uncovered the potential of virtual events in 2021, we’re going to walk through five innovative virtual event ideas to inspire your efforts—starting with skills and onboarding.

1. Virtual onboarding and skills workshops

Your onboarding process is vital to the ongoing growth and success of your business. A seamless and engaging onboarding process will inspire your new recruits while demonstrating your key brand values.

By taking a video-based virtual events-style approach to your main onboarding activities, you will connect with new as well as existing employees on a more meaningful level while creating staff engagement from the offset.

Setting up a virtual conference will allow you to share your company insights and values in a visually dynamic way while providing a relaxed platform for asking questions or sharing ideas.

You can also adopt this approach to create virtual skills sharing workshops between departments or go public and launch a recruitment fair where you can attract potential talent to your brand.

By hosting a public recruitment onboarding workshop, you will be able to promote the event via your most popular digital channels—including email, apps, and social media—building positive brand awareness in the process.

If you have a largely remote team, all three of these virtual onboarding angles will inspire motivation, loyalty, and connection.

To help you make these virtual events as fun and engaging as possible here are some quick-fire ideas for your consideration:

  • Prepare a virtual tour of your brand or business to play during the event.
  • Launch mini polls and surveys during your event to request your new, current or prospective employees’ opinions and make them feel valued. This will also give you invaluable data for making future improvements to your company processes and culture.
  • Offer tutorials and skills-building sessions with featured guests or speakers.
  • Create icebreaker activities including trivia quizzes, ‘top fives’ or ‘true or false’ games.

2. Virtual tours and immersive experiences

By 2023, experts predict that the immersive technology market will be worth over $11 billion. That’s pretty colossal, to say the least.

Since a certain Swedish flatpack giant launched its standout augmented reality (AR) app ‘IKEA Place’ back in 2018, immersive experiences have become a regular feature in our everyday lives.

IKEA Place allows consumers to virtually add products or items to different rooms in their home to see how they look before committing to a purchase. This simple yet effective concept proved a real hit across the globe.

Inspired by creations like ‘IKEA Place’, brands within education, travel, and retail in particular have started to offer in-depth virtual tours or ‘walkthroughs’ of different buildings, locations or destinations.

The Louvre, for example, developed an extensive virtual tour of its most treasured exhibits and galleries to empower people to experience its wonder from the comfort of their own home.

This highly-interactive and visually stunning virtual experience is now one of the World Wide Web’s most searched tours.

Virtual events initiatives like this are wildly popular and by giving existing as well as prospective customers a glimpse into your business or industry, you can expand your consumer reach while offering an experience that will help you stand out from the crowd.

When it comes to virtual tours, there are several avenues you can explore. But, with reliable smartphone-based filming and editing tools and a concept that is likely to connect with your audience, you can create something magnificent without breaking the bank.

Here are our top three video filming and editing tools for creating virtual or behind the scenes tours:

  1. Quik: GoPro video editor
  2. WeVideo filming & editing app
  3. Horizon camera (excellent for capturing landscape footage)

Tip: To maximise the success of your virtual tour, set up a preview evening where people can book a free ticket and view the video live after an introduction or Q&A session.

3. Virtual product or service launches

You don’t have to be in the room with your customers to bring your products or services to life.

A live or pre-recorded virtual product or service launch is a powerful promotional force.  With a virtual product or service launch, you can manage and enrich the exposure of your new product or service to a wider audience in a way that is both time and cost-effective.

By combining the live video aspects of a virtual conference and the wealth of visual tools at your disposal, you can bring specific features of your product to life while empowering your audience to ask questions. This in-depth approach will also help your attendees gain a working insight into how your brand can benefit their lives.

If your launch is slick and seamless, you can also use clips and visuals from the event as promotional assets to share via your social media channels to drive additional sales.

Electric bicycle innovator VanMoof launched an immersive event to promote its brand new products, the X3 and S3.

In collaboration with a virtual design specialist, VanMoof created a documentary-style live product launch packed with exclusive brand insights and deep-drive graphical footage of its new bikes’ most cutting-edge features.

This brilliant live virtual launch event represented VanMoof’s clean, minimal brand style while offering an intriguing glimpse into the X3 and S3—earning the company 6000 viewers, and 4400 orders within 24 hours of the event. A testament to the power of well-executed virtual events. 

Here are some practical tips to ensure your virtual product launch goes off without a hitch:

  • Outline your script and talking points in detail in advance of the event.
  • Share high-quality graphics and visuals to demonstrate the value of your product or service.
  • Partner up with industry influencers to promote your event and share your assets afterwards.
  • Allow space for your attendees to ask questions or leave comments.
  • Add interactive features to your event through a dedicated landing page.
  • Perform a test run of your event to ensure your platform of choice is working correctly and you can troubleshoot any snags or issues in advance.
  • Line up some back up visuals, messaging or footage in case anything goes wrong while you are live. This will offer your audience something to engage with while you’re fixing the issue.

4. Virtual conferences

Virtual conferences make highly-effective virtual events as they work wonderfully alone or as an extension of a physical or ‘hybrid’ conference.

Hosting a virtual conference will give you the tools to deliver thought-leading content to a global target audience. Conference-style events also allow you to gather a wealth of data that will give you an insight into clients, consumers, and competitors in your niche.

Arguably the best thing about virtual conferences is that it’s possible to run them through a dedicated website. 

Doing so will allow you to offer your audience a dynamic mix of rich interactive content as well as pre-recorded mini documentaries or keynote speeches in addition to live networking gatherings or networking sessions.

Adobe, for instance, chose to pre-record all of its content for its online summit. Despite lacking opportunities for real-time engagement, the brand’s cohesive mix of videos and slick industry-leading content earned Adobe droves of positive feedback while gaining insights to make its next summit even better.

5.  Virtual team bonding days or evenings

Circling back to internal engagement, virtual team bonding events are excellent for building rapport while giving your employees a platform for sharing thoughts or ideas.

When it comes to team bonding virtual events, the sky’s the limit. With reliable video conferencing software, you can host Q&A sessions, themed quizzes, remote fancy dress parties, story-telling evenings, company updates with drinks, and plenty more.

Most importantly, virtual team bonding events will build a sense of community even if most of your workforce operates remotely.

These types of events offer a golden opportunity to keep your team motivated while offering incentives and celebrating employee achievements.

To get your creative virtual event juices flowing, here are some team bonding ideas that everyone is likely to enjoy:

  • Communal coffee breaks with company updates
  • Weekly games or trivia sessions
  • Team movie events
  • Virtual escape rooms
  • Show & tells or fun fact guessing games
  • Google Maps based ‘place of birth’ events where everyone can drop a pin where they were born and share a story from their hometown

Remote team bonding events can be just as intimate and rewarding as physical gatherings and regardless of where your team members are located, can improve motivation as well as productivity across the board.

Virtual webinar
“That’s very interesting. But, can you zoom in a little please? I can’t see the whiteboard.”

Final thoughts…

Whether internal or external, virtual events make people feel valued. We live in a time where the tools and technology exist to create a range of virtual events without placing a strain on your budget.

In 2021, and beyond, virtual events should be a vital part of your business’s marketing strategy. By exploring a mix of the virtual event ideas we’ve covered and understanding the needs of your audience, you will expand your commercial reach while making your business more vibrant and productive.

If you decide to launch onboarding or team bonding events and you would like to give your remote workers a much-needed boost, we can help.

At WellBox, we offer a range of fun, happy, and healthy curated snack boxes designed to help boost your employees’ motivation and wellbeing.

These boxes are excellent for virtual team events and as employee perks or incentives—and there is plenty of choice too.

To find out more about what we can do or what we offer, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.