Managing Clients and Press Through Virtual Events

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that virtual events simply cannot mimic the real deal experience, but they have proven to be a sensible and cost-effective solution when in-person events are not possible. While the Caster team has sat (from our desks) front row center at several virtual shows and events within the industry these past several months, we found that some were definitely tough to follow and others were a resounding success – including The Presence Summit – an event specifically designed to teach attendees how to create engaging video conferencing experiences.

Just like the rest of the world, we’re still getting used to the ins and outs of virtual events ourselves and this summer we learned that online event and webinar fatigue is real – which is why it’s important to make sure they are done right. We’ve taken in a lot of knowledge along the way, which has helped us guide the media and our clients through the tips, tricks, and the overall logistics of attending and hosting successful virtual events. Everything from the basics of how to register and access sessions, to more complex pieces like using engagement tools and strategies to run a successful event – are equally important. In our experience, there is a learning curve for virtual event attendees and hosts, and it’s our job to help both sides get the most of out of them – but we too are still learning!

We asked Tim Albright, founder of AVNation and one of Caster’s press friendlies, to offer his perspective since he’s both hosted and attended multiple virtual events this year in particular. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your overall opinion on virtual tradeshows and events?
Throughout the pandemic, virtual tradeshows have acted as band-aid solution. In 2020 virtual events have allowed manufacturers to connect in a safe environment and relay new product information to their customers and the media. But outside of a pandemic, virtual events provide a stop gap for those who cannot or do not wish to travel to events. I don’t personally believe that virtual events are a long-term solution for the AV industry for two reasons: The first is there are certain technologies you simply cannot demonstrate virtually. How can you provide the impact of a new 8K display through the inevitable compression of Zoom and the viewer’s limited display? Similarly, how can I hear what an audio speaker sounds like virtually? The second reason is we crave personal connections in the real world. Virtual happy hours are fine for now, but they don’t allow for side bar conversations or the serendipitous discovery that the person next to you went to your same summer camp, for example. There is no better way to build new and existing relationships, than through in-person interactions.

Do you think even if/when things return to normal, that our industry will continue with a hybrid approach to shows?
Yes, I think hybrid events are here to stay and the main reason is for the purpose of education. Giving remote attendees access to all of the great content at shows seems like a no brainer going forward.

After hosting your own virtual tradeshow earlier this year, what advice do you have for other media outlets who may be thinking of doing the same thing?
Don’t do it. ? Just kidding, it was a great experience, and I learned a ton. Hosting a virtual event allows you to connect with your current audience while also broadening your reach. It also gives you the ability to create new and unique content that would normally be outside of your wheelhouse.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I see 2021 as the year of small, regional in-person shows. As members of the press we have an obligation to cover these events the best that we can. To do so, it may be possible to use a combination of local stringers as well as traveling ourselves where and when we deem it safe.

Are you thinking of hosting a virtual tradeshow or event amidst travel bans and social distancing recommendations, but not sure where to start? We may not be self-proclaimed experts, but we’ve become pretty familiar with how they work and everything it takes to make them successful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice! And don’t miss out on registering for Tim’s next virtual event – the AV Network Nation (AVN²) event, a tech discovery day for the AV community that will take place virtually on December 10, 2020.

Ashley Collazo

Ashley Collazo

Account Executive

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