January 21 2022

5 WAYS VIRTUAL EVENTS BEAT WEBINARS

What exactly is a webinar or a virtual event, and how can business owners differentiate between the two? When it comes to engagement and experience, why do virtual events hold a competitive edge?


By Clarissa Siu

HOW TO EXPAND THE ROI OF VIRTUAL EVENTS

While many of us have always held online events, virtual meetings increased exponentially when the world was hit with COVID-19.
In particular, virtual events became a popular choice among business owners to stay connected with partners, sponsors, and customers, outperforming traditional webinars when it comes to delivering immersive and unique experiences.
However, as time passes and Zoom fatigue sets in, lines between the two digital events tend to blur and blend into one indistinguishable mass of Internet jargon, leaving users confused and unsure.
This brings us to the topic at hand. What exactly is a webinar or a virtual event, and how can business owners differentiate between the two? When it comes to engagement and experience, why do virtual events hold a competitive edge?

What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is a multi-dimensional event, and it is held in a virtual venue set up to deliver the experience of an in-person event. Examples include virtual fairs, tradeshows, summits, meetings, parties, conferences, and exhibits.

What is a webinar?
The term ‘webinar’ stands for web-based seminar, and it is a presentation-style digital experience that allows one or more speakers to deliver presentations to an audience.

Differences between a virtual event and a webinar
Technically, a webinar is a virtual event as it is held online. However, webinars do not fall under the scope of virtual events as we know them, and they differ from virtual events mainly in terms of interaction style and duration.
The interaction style of webinars is largely one-way, with a speaker addressing an audience. Though there may be opportunities for Q&As at the end of each presentation, interaction is limited. On the other hand, virtual events are multi-dimensional, and they encourage different engagement and interaction styles through presentations, workshops, training sessions, and one-on-one appointments between users.
Additionally, while webinars are usually single-session, virtual events can have multiple sessions and are multi-track, with different sessions running simultaneously. When webinars are likely to last a few hours at the maximum, virtual events can span several hours to several days, just like an in-person event can.

5 ways virtual events beat webinars
Virtual events and webinars can both meet business objectives. However, when it comes to creating a comprehensive and immersive event experience, there are five major ways virtual events take the lead.

1. Virtual events offer more flexibility in presentation
Virtual events offer speakers and attendees much more flexibility in presentation and interaction than webinars because of their broader scope.
While webinars confine speakers to a one-sided presentation and limit the opportunity for audience interaction to surveys and Q&As, virtual events open up the space with different elements.
Virtual event organizers can host fairs, tradeshows, summits, conferences, meetings, parties, and more, and they can do all of this on one virtual event platform.
In each of the events they host, organizers and speakers can select different formats and ways of interaction with attendees.
For example, they can give presentations to hundreds of attendees in a virtual lecture hall, organize workshops for small groups, and allow attendees to network one-on-one in breakout rooms and through private appointments. Virtual event speakers can also pre-film presentations to be looped in the venue or played on-demand.
The wide range of presentation and interaction styles in virtual events offers speakers greater flexibility when it comes to sharing their ideas. Attendees can also receive information in a time and manner that suits them best.

2. Virtual events can host more attendees
It is not unlikely for hundreds of attendees to join webinars, but studies by video conferencing software GoToMeeting have shown that 44% of webinars have fewer than 25 attendees. Virtual events, on the other hand, raise the bar by catering to, and welcoming, thousands of participants at a time.
There are many types of organizers and events that would benefit from a large attendance:
• Businesses hosting virtual company events and conferences to increase brand awareness and network with potential partners, customers, and investors
• Industries hosting virtual trade fairs and exhibitions for businesses to network with potential partners, customers, and investors
• Academic research communities hosting virtual summits and conferences to share ideas from around the world
• Local governments hosting virtual city-wide arts and cultural events for residents and other interested parties
In the past, Virtual Hive has partnered with Nykredit, one of Denmark’s leading financial companies, to work on a project that involved combining their five physical investor conferences into one single virtual conference.
The conference’s purpose was for Nykredit to share insights with their customers and help them make better investment decisions. Therefore, it was essential that our virtual meeting platform could host a large number of attendees.
In the end, the virtual event was a success, attracting more than 3,000 participants. The participants were also able to spend their time efficiently, accessing pre-filmed presentations and speeches around the virtual platform when they wanted and meeting with experts for financial advising when necessary.

3. Virtual events offer greater venue customization
While webinars are often hosted in digital spaces that offer limited customization, virtual events can be hosted on fully customizable platforms. The benefit of complete customization is that event spaces can be personalized to create a much more immersive experience for attendees, increasing their enjoyment of the event.
At Virtual Hive, we place great importance on creating unique event experiences through our platform. With extensive knowledge of the events industry, we are aware that one of the main concerns people have when attending virtual conferences is that they will not be as exciting and engaging, and we aim to alleviate this.
Firstly, our virtual meeting platform comes in a standard design that enables our organizers to host all types of events, from virtual fairs and conferences to tradeshows. This design features Nordic-style lighting and an open and bright architectural design that creates a contemporary atmosphere, and it is the perfect foundation for venue personalization.
Our organizers can then customize the space to mimic an in-person venue, such as their office, headquarters, and more. Content from event sponsors can also be seamlessly integrated into the venue—think an open space decorated with banners and posters, lined with booths, exhibits, and different rooms attendees can pop into.
Finally, our users can create customized avatars to distinguish themselves from one another while they roam the venue.
With so many customizable elements, our platforms also offer easy navigation so users of all levels of technical expertise can participate in events with ease.

4. Virtual events can generate higher levels of interaction
Webinars generally only offer attendees a chance to interact with the host and guest speakers at the end of each session, usually in the form of a Q&A or a survey. However, virtual events encourage interaction at every turn.
On top of Q&As and surveys after large-scale presentations, Virtual Hive’s attendees can interact with hosts and speakers in workshops and training conducted in small groups. In virtual conferences, they can also book one-on-one appointments with speakers after presentations to share ideas or through booths set up in virtual fairs and tradeshows.
Additionally, attendees can network amongst themselves in breakout rooms and lobbies.
The different communication channels available on our virtual meeting platform allow all users to choose how and when they want to interact, and they foster a sense of community and togetherness. This drives engagement and interaction, creating a memorable and productive event.

5. Virtual events can gather more detailed insights
Webinars can offer performance insights such as the number of attendees and surveys filled out post-event. However, this data offers limited insight.
In virtual events, attendees can meet with sponsors and exhibits individually, meaning these businesses can obtain precise lead generation data. They can also obtain insights beyond facts and figures—businesses can get to know potential customers by interacting with them one-on-one and identifying their unique concerns.
At Virtual Hive, our organizers can access event performance data in real-time through a dedicated dashboard that allows them to access specific insights such as the number of interactions recorded in a certain booth or the number of times a particular on-demand presentation was watched.
The recorded data is presented in a simple and clear user interface. It is also accessible via an API of the organizer’s choice for virtual events that require a high level of privacy and security. Post-event, the insights are accessible to organizers in the form of a comprehensive data package, and they can be shared with sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers.

Host your virtual event with Virtual Hive
While webinars can deliver a satisfying digital experience, organizers of large-scale events can create a bigger impact and offer users a more comprehensive experience with virtual events.
Virtual Hive is a leading digital meeting platform for virtual and hybrid conferences, meetings, fairs, and tradeshows. Our founders have over two decades of experience in the events industry, and we are dedicated to creating memorable experiences for our users.
An annual license with Virtual Hive starts from 6,700 EUR (50,000 DKK). This license grants event organizers full access to our secure and fully customizable platform. Smaller packages are also offered to meet each business’s unique needs.
Learn more about our platform features or get in touch with us today for a free and zero-obligation consulting session.

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