WT Apps Virtual Events

Designing for Virtual Events

Adapting to a changing landscape

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  • United States

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As we recently passed the one-year mark of the start of the global pandemic, we have come to realize how much it has affected nearly all aspects of our lives. Many industries and companies, big and small, were affected in a scale that had not been anticipated. They started racing to find ways in which they could adapt to a new set of ever-changing norms. As a result, many organizations rolled out rapid changes to the way they conduct their businesses that would normally require long transition times.

One of such big changes came in the events space where we saw some of the most prominent companies and organizations holding their big industry events – such as Apple’s WWDC, Google I/O, and CES, among countless other consumer events and festivals – in fully virtual environments.

Although the events industry is anxious to get back face-to-face, digital is here to stay. As we are starting to make better assumptions on ways in which our transition to the “new normal” will take shape, it would be safe to say that virtual and hybrid events will be here to stay in the upcoming years. In fact, according to a 2020 report prepared by a virtual events software company, Bizzabo, more than 90% of event marketers believe we will see more hybrid events in 2021 and they plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.

A mobile app can close the gap between virtual and hybrid events by connecting the events ecosystem, giving users more ways to engage and creating a more seamless experience.

Pre-event and post-event content can drive retention and engagement; however, in this hybrid model, a specialized on-site app experience is still important. Mobile technology had already been dramatically improving the overall attendee experience during in-person events, but it has become increasingly crucial in providing a personalized, on-the-go experience for virtual event attendees.

Not only have companies had to adjust their entire business models, speed-to-market has been paramount, as of late. Through our recent work with a global chip manufacturer, we gathered key learnings and tips on how to make the most of the hybrid mobile and on-site event model.

Implement better tracking to create long-lasting engagements.

Events are valuable venues for companies to connect with customers and other industry professionals. Sometimes companies are not able to capitalize through digital channels because it’s new territory. When organizations demand an immediate shift in their business model, they force decisions quickly with little to no previous experience in the mobile/digital space. Some brands may not many have implemented adequate analytic tracking while rushing to launch digital programs. Data is a pillar of this new business model moving forward. By creating a seamless pre-event and follow-up experience for event attendees and taking advantage of native mobile features such as push notifications, geolocation data, etc., the value of a mobile app is evident in building a perpetual, ongoing relationship with event attendees and exhibitors rather than a one-time occurrence.

Use personalization and provide channels for communication.

We have all been spending more time in front of our screens and we continue to struggle with some level of screen fatigue every day. With that in mind, virtual events need to deliver easy access to content and better engagement with users by integrating top-knotch personalization. The optimal app experience should give users control. Event apps should intend to provide users with a range of live and pre-recorded content that can be distributed post-event. Users also demand more interactivity from virtual events to stay continuously engaged, such as the ability to have one-to-one conversations with industry experts. Customers want the feel of face-to-face, even in a digital experience. Communication between attendees and exhibitors should be facilitated in-app. Seamless direct contact is important to resolve specific open questions, as well as meaningful networking opportunities. Polls and surveys are valuable assets to provide engagement for users and insights for event organizers during and after an event. A well-designed mobile app is an asset to any business with any type of events model. Seamless solutions should be provided for fully virtual events to virtual-optional to full in-person events.

Make durable, simplified experiences.

Users want virtual event experiences to be as effortless and easy as possible. From onboarding, account or attendee integration, social-linking and new innovative features such as Picture-in-Picture, mobile apps provide different tiers of experiences that can be well-integrated within the overall vision of the event. A successful mobile app will be completely intuitive. It will always be available, and the experience will not compromise on accessibility, the user experience or platform stability. Third-party technology integrations should be implemented where necessary to deliver the best, easy-to-use experience.

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