How to Hold The Best Virtual Summit in 2021

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All you need to know about virtual summits, events, conferences and webinars

Virtual events are the next big trend for 2021. In simple terms, a virtual summit is an online event with many sessions held on a virtual events platform. Indeed, there are many benefits of a virtual summit. In fact, costs are lower, anyone can attend and operations are much easier to control. Also, like a traditional summit, a virtual summit has many factors to make sure the summit is a success.

Are you thinking of turning your physical event into a virtual one? We’ve composed the ultimate guide on how to organise the best virtual summit. A stellar virtual summit boosts brand awareness, reaches a wider audience. All which helps your summit become an industry superstar. To help your planning, we’ve composed the ultimate virtual summit checklist. 

Decide your summit’s strategy

If this is your first summit, this is where you’ll decide what kind of summit you are going to hold. What are you going to call your summit? If you want to host the best virtual summit in your industry for 2021 pick something catchy. Make sure that aligns with your brand and ensure that it works well for hashtags. Don’t forget that the summit name is the first thing your audience is going to hear about your event. Ask yourself the following questions to outline your summit strategy:

  • What are the objectives of this summit? Why are you holding this event? 
  • Who is my target audience? What kind of people are in the sector this summit is focusing on?
  • The timing of the summit, including the date and how many days it spread across.
  • What video conferencing platform is most suitable to host the best virtual summit. Furthermore, check out the features that your video conferencing platform should include.

There are two main goals that your virtual summit should meet. Business goals include; brand awareness, lead generation, revenue, product promotion and consumer loyalty. Attendee goals include networking, learning or training, entertainment, and celebration.

Devise a budget

One brilliant advantage of a virtual summit is the money saved on traditional costs. To mention a few; a traditional venue, insurance and physical materials. Now that you have the finer details fleshed out, you need to create a budget based on your summit’s strategy. Additionally, speaker costs, marketing, and staff expenses are essential factors of the budget.

After you pinpoint the main costs of your summit, you need to identify revenue streams. Generally, the main revenue sources are virtual sponsorship opportunities, exhibitors and ticket sales. Planning and budgeting are key for any successful event, virtual or not. To make your life easier, we found a comprehensive virtual event budget template.

Price your tickets

Pricing your summit’s tickets is one of the most important steps in virtual event planning. If you price tickets too low, the profile of your event might come across as unprofessional. Also, if you price initial tickets too high, it will deter attendees from buying a ticket. So now you know your expenses, you need to price tickets in proportion to those costs. To host the best virtual summit, we recommend a tiered-ticket system. We’ve outlined the most popular ticketing pricing system and their benefits below:

Free: Of course, giving tickets for free will draw a crowd. But, at what opportunity cost? Prepare for guests outside your target to sign up, which defies the main strategy of your summit. Instead, why not offer free tickets to students, OAPS, and unemployed people? That way you’re still going to attract a crowd and make money at the same time – it’s the best of both worlds.

Early Bird: Sell a limited number of tickets at a reduced rate to spread the word. Also, ensure that you’re still making a profit when setting the price. To add, sell early bird prices for a limited amount of time or to an exclusive list of people. To add, including an early bird offer is key in both ticketing and promoting the best virtual summit.

Regular: So, this price is where you’ll generate most of your ticket revenue. Additionally, ensure that this is higher than the early bird tickets.

Last-minute: Next, close regular ticket sales right before your summit starts. Then, release last-minute tickets at a higher price but that your market is willing to pay. 

Arrange speakers

The speakers are the main attraction of your virtual conference. Thus, influential speakers will draw massive attention to your virtual summit. Speakers should align with the brand of the virtual event, so make sure you choose with caution. Below are speakers to include for the best virtual summit with industry-leading discussions. To conclude, have a balanced mix of speakers for some controversial panel discussions. 

  • Industry Experts: These speakers are famous for their general industry knowledge. But, they may come at a high cost.
  • Thought-Leaders: These kinds of speakers focus on one key area of your industry.
  • Industry Newbies: These speakers are hot on the scene of your industry and can draw in a crowd. A great bonus of these types of speakers is that they have fresh perspectives and are cheaper.
  • The Social Media Guru: These speakers are key as they promote on their digital channels. What’s not to love about free marketing?

(Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash)

Market your summit

You’ve set a date for your virtual event and you’re counting down the days. Now, you’re starting to worry about how many people will turn up. From that, how do you promote, boost attendance and maximize the virtual experience?

The next step in creating the best virtual summit in 2021 is building your brand. Firstly, create eye-catching marketing materials in line with your brand. Don’t forget to add your brand’s visual elements, such as custom logos, slogans, brand colors, etc. Use tools for designing logos if you still don’t have one for your company. Afterwards, build an event website and create social media accounts. Describe your summit, why people should attend and anything unique to highlight. How you promote your summit will determine its success.

So, take a look at some creative ways to promote your virtual summit and boost attendance. In sum, use email marketing, social media, affiliate marketing, and paid advertising. Also, content marketing, keyword optimization and blogging are great promotional methods.

One last tip, create a compelling web page that is mobile-friendly and readable. Grab your target audiences’ attention from the get-go. A captivating web page should include the following details:

  • Time, date and venue details.
  • Schedule of events.
  • Any sign-up links.
  • Speaker information.
  • Ticket prices and payment methods.
  • Exhibitors and sponsors information.

Reach out to sponsors and exhibitors

Now that you have promoted your event and the word is out – what’s next? Contact exhibitors and sponsors who would like to get involved. Reach out to your network – this is the fun part. Devise a template for your team to distribute to their contacts and clients. Don’t forget to include the essential information related to your virtual summit. You should include the strategy, target audience, topics, and speakers in the template.

Also, a unique way to grab a sponsor’s attention is by sharing some creative virtual sponsorship ideas. Here are some of the most imaginative virtual sponsorship ideas for your sponsors:

  • Sponsored Giveaway
  • Website Advertising
  • Sponsored Entertainment
  • Social Media Shoutouts
  • Digital Gift Bags
  • Sponsored Games
  • Sponsored Lunch

Create compelling content

Of course, we all know that content is king for the best virtual summit. So, outline a creative content strategy and plan how you are going to execute the summit content. The advantage of virtual summits is the possibility of live and pre-recorded content. It’s great for both you and your speakers. First, analyse how much live content you can manage during the summit and go from there. Needless to say, live content is riskier with connection issues and speaker no-shows. Even more, live sessions can add value and engagement to your summit.

You should ask the following questions when trying to devise your content strategy:

  • Why are we holding this summit?
  • Who is the target audience of the summit?
  • What do we want to gain from holding it?
  • What do we want our audience to learn from the summit?
  • Do we want to enhance knowledge, boost brand awareness, or hold exhibitions?

Organize networking opportunities

The connections made at a summit are great for ventures and brainstorming sessions. For the best virtual summit, you need to create unique networking opportunities. Chat rooms, break rooms, icebreaking events are amazing for networking. If you need inspiration, we’ve composed the most unforgettable networking icebreakers. Of course, creating fun networking activities sets your event apart from your competitors. A virtual summit without networking is a wasted e-gathering. So, we’ve outlined the following benefits of including networking opportunities

  • Networking enhances marketing opportunities. Holding unique networking opportunities at your event will draw attention.
  • Networking increases the way your guests connect with each other. The main reason people come to a summit is for networking. So, guests are more likely to return to your next virtual conference.
  • Networking develops credibility for your event. By holding unique networking events, your summit becomes more established by industry experts.
  • Networking creates another revenue stream for the summit. Networking events provide excellent sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

(Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash)

Decide entertainment line-up

Everyone needs some comic relief during a virtual summit. As the world adapts to the new reality of life, several artists are taking the show online to shed some light. To ensure your attendees are happy, analyse their interests for entertainment inspiration. Some popular forms of virtual entertainment are:

  • Live gigs.
  • Live comedians.
  • Cooking demos.

Select KPIs to measure the success of your virtual summit 

If you don’t record it, then it didn’t happen. Well, the same goes for measuring the success of your summit. Analysing what went right and wrong is essential for learning and growth. Measuring the event’s success is one of the best ways to advertise your next virtual summit. 

Virtual event KPI’s differ from traditional events. So, that is good news for all you virtual summit planners! In fact, virtual event KPI’s are simple to track, measure and gauge. You can’t deny, virtual event KPIs are crucial for measuring the success of your summit.

Attendee numbers, attendee engagement, and feedback scores are excellent KPIs to measure. So, identifying the right KPIs is key for future events. Take a look at the complete guide to the most important KPIs to measure virtual events success.

Launch your post-virtual summit survey

Needless to say, collecting feedback is a vital step in your virtual summit checklist. After all, if you don’t collect feedback, how can you grow and improve? To conclude, the post-virtual summit survey is crucial to collect feedback.

Check out the must-ask questions you have to include in your post virtual summit survey. Aim questions towards both guests and exhibitors so you can improve for your next summit. Send the survey out while the iron is hot but give your attendees some time to digest your summit.

Virtual vs Physical vs Hybrid Events: Which Approach to Take in 2021?

If you’re thinking of holding a virtual summit in 2021, why not consider throwing a hybrid event? When it comes to logistics, a hybrid event is more complicated. Yet, the benefits of combining the two approaches are boundless.

One thing that’s for certain is that virtual events are here to stay and are no longer considered a new phenomenon. Of course, taking your summit from a traditional event to virtual is key for the 2021 events industry. Go one step further with your planning and prepare for potential virtual crises. Even on the virtual sphere, crises are possible. No need to worry! Stay on top of your competitors with effective virtual crisis planning.

So, that covers almost everything you need to host the best virtual summit in 2021. Remo creates a virtual space that allows guests to connect the same as in real life. Find out how Remo can make your virtual summit a sensation with a guided tour or check out a free trial.

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