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    Taking offline events into the virtual realm

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    By Svetlana Bezrodnaya, JTB Europe

    The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly transformed the events industry, with planning for face-to-face events, conference and meetings completely turned on its head during this period. 

    We are fully aware of the benefits and value that events and conferences have on businesses, whether it be in drawing in new customers, motivating employees or launching exciting new products or services, for example. Not only this, but, more than ever, there is a clear need for companies to connect with their audiences during this time.

    In this regard, it is essential that PAs ask themselves one key question: how can our scheduled offline events be replaced with virtual events? 

    When asking this question and considering the opportunities that virtual events can offer through the use of technology, PAs may well be surprised in finding that technology can empower us to be more creative, reach new audiences and be more ambitious in our event planning.

    Making sense of the technology at your disposal
    Whether it be Microsoft Teams, Zoom or an alternative video-chat provider, the UK has embraced the power of video platforms and calls to replace face-to-face interaction during the lockdown period. In the same way, the UK is now embracing virtual events through the use of online platforms, interactive Q&As and webinars.

    When thinking about upcoming events or conferences, PAs must consider the use of online event platforms to reach a mass audience, all from the comfort of their own homes. Using an integrated platform will enable so much more than a typical video stream, enabling participants to discuss topics in separate chat feeds, contribute to live Q&A sessions and attend different event streams throughout the day.

    As a business, JTB Europe has adapted by developing new, online solutions that integrate the key components of offline conferences such as interactive Q&As, virtual entertainment and chat feeds to allow event organisers and attendees to get the most out of their event, whilst also having a little fun along the way.

    It is also important to pay careful consideration to privacy and security measures when organising a virtual event and managing any personal information. Security is designed to be of the highest quality with private access for all users. 

    Know your audience and get creative!
    Just as you would with an offline event, PAs should first consider what the primary aims of the event or conference are, along with how they would like attendees to feel about their brand following the event. Knowing your audience is just as key as with offline events in this regard.

    This is where we can begin to get creative and start to use technology in ways that replicate offline events. In replicating an inspiring and galvanising team building event, why not host a virtual yoga session followed by a digital karaoke experience? This will no doubt leave attendees feeling uplifted and enthusiastic about your brand and being a part of the business. 

    As a business, we’re confident that the events industry can and will remain resilient whilst hosting exciting and impactful virtual events during this time. The need to be flexible and adaptive is greater than ever and we are proud to have launched three new services, GoLive, DIGITALK and DIGITEAM, to support PAs with their event planning and organisation during this time. 

    Svetlana Bezrodnaya is Vice President and Head of MICE and Business Development at JTB Europe

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