These days, just about everything is going virtual, from offices to clothing stores - and events are no exception. With this new virtual working world, anyone can keep themselves and others safe while still receiving information and lessons normally received in an office. Along with the usual 9-5 work, conferences and summits are included in this new virtual working space. Read on to learn more about if a virtual summit is right for your strategy!
A virtual summit is a great event to host for any company - they bring in new leads, generate revenue, and give attendees the chance to make new connections! Unlike conferences and conventions, summits tend to focus on one specific issue known within an industry and have a group of familiarized experts participate in an open discussion type of conversation.
Summits have been one of the best ways to connect with like minded people in your industry and an even better way to market your business or services. If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are you’re interested in holding one- which, congratulations! Reaching a level to where your company is ready to host an event big or small is no easy feat. At Hubilo, our clients have been successful at throwing virtual summits that leave attendees with quality information and connections that will last a very long time.
At our 2022 BizBash Virtual Summit, attendees had the opportunity to join us live from home or on-demand and on-the-go for 20+ keynotes, panels, networking opportunities, and live Q&A sessions with some of the biggest names in the industry. Attendees of this virtual summit event walked away with more ideas than ever before on how to create impactful experiences, scale their audiences, and grow their business. Plus, not only did attendees gain valuable experiences from this event, but it also qualified as CMP continuing education credit.
Hosting a summit, especially one that is virtual, has a tremendous amount of benefits that we’ll go over. We’ll also cover how to go about hosting a virtual summit, including how much it will cost and the appropriate length of one, some virtual summit ideas and a virtual summit checklist.
1. Brand Awareness
When you host an event such as a virtual summit, all eyes are on you (in a good way)! By bringing together both expert speakers who are knowledgeable in your industry with attendees who are eager to learn, this can easily put you and your business at the forefront of everyone’s mind. A great virtual summit that you’ve organized has the ability to leave a positive lasting impression on everyone involved - and who wouldn’t want that for their business?
2. No Attendee Limitations
One of the greatest benefits of the migration from in-person events to virtual is the opportunity to reach an increased amount of people. With attendees not having to worry about transportation and travel, it leaves them able to access expert knowledge and make lasting connections from the comfort of their home. A virtual event like an online summit leaves little for attendees to stress about, so they’ll be more than happy to join in from a computer. So long as attendees have a strong internet connection, anyone can join from anywhere around the world.
3. A Better Bang For Your Buck
Another benefit to hosting an event that’s virtual compared to in-person? The cost. Renting out an event space for a summit costs a substantial amount - whereas, holding it on a hosting platform like Hubilo won’t break your event budget. Not to mention the amount of money attendees have to pay to attend any in-person event, including costs for things like food and money. Holding a virtual event saves them money as well! With holding a virtual summit, your company can save money while attracting more leads and building your network - who wouldn’t want to do that?
As all great event planners know, before you start planning any event you should get clear on your goals. There are a few ways to figure this out. Ask yourself and your team, what do you want to accomplish with this event? What outcomes are you hoping for? Are you focused on getting your brand out there and developing leads, or do you want to increase partnerships with other businesses - or all of the above? The more specific you can get, the better! That way, you have a means of tracking your performance throughout the event and after the event is over. The more specific you can get on your goals, the more you and your team can prioritize what features to focus on. For example, you may want more subscribers to your email list, which in that case you’ll want to prioritize
The way planners go about hosting virtual events compared to in-person events are very different, since there are a few big differences to the nature of each one. Where the majority of your budget is going is one. Since your attendees will all come together via a web program, you’ll be paying the majority of your budget to enhance your online experience. Depending on what kinds of services you need along with the video hosting itself, costs will vary. Typically, the cost of event hosting platforms range from $10,000-$50,000. Some platforms will include different plan options to choose from that will combine certain services and features in a convenient package for you. With Hubilo, you can choose from our three plans: Advanced, Pro, or Enterprise that provide different features based on attendee size. Take into account how much is in your budget and explore your options from there!
The length of a virtual summit can differ on many factors. For a complex issue with a multifaceted panel of speakers and attendees, the summit could be up to 10 days. Shorter events usually take up to three days, so anywhere between 3-10 days would be appropriate for an online summit. No matter which length you choose, make sure you have all your materials and schedule planned out ahead of time to ensure a smooth event for everyone involved.
Choosing a platform to host your virtual is a huge decision that may require lots of research. Use Google to see which hosting platforms would best suit your needs and your company’s wallet, because it may be the biggest expense for your event. You want to make sure you choose a reputable platform that is capable of handling a big event that has the potential to last more than a few days. Most platforms offer different packages depending on the size of your event and how much you're willing to spend. The more you narrow down on length and price, the easier your choices get. Platforms like Hubilo deliver unforgettable experiences for guests, with features like ticketing, analytics and more.
One of the key draw-ins to your online virtual summit event will be the speakers you include. Speakers can not only be beneficial for drawing in a big audience, but they can also add some variety to your event too! There are so many types of speakers you can choose from, from entrepreneurs to CEOs to scientists. Check if your budget allows you to invite at least one speaker to excite your guests and provide them with valuable knowledge.
Whether you’ve planned a virtual summit event for three days or 10 days, one thing that will help both your team and attendees is an agenda. Provide a schedule for everyone that lists out all the key times that speakers will present and times to other events during the summit so attendees can plan their days. Since some attendees may not be interested in every speaker or every event you have planned, an agenda will allow guests to pick and choose which parts they want to participate in. Consider assigning virtual moderators for your event who can help keep everything and everyone on schedule, too!
As you prepare for your virtual summit, creating content is a very important step that shouldn’t be forgotten. Content for your guests can come in the form of pre-recorded videos, presentations, and more. It’s important that your team gets started on this aspect early enough to ensure you have material prepared for the event day and to see that everything aligns with your agenda. Don’t forget content for promoting the event, either; creating things like graphics and banners to use on social media will be beneficial in the promoting process for your summit.
One of the most important factors in getting the word out about your summit is promoting it! There are various ways you can do this, but social media is one of the best. Posting about your event will not only get attendees excited, but posting the right information will entice others to sign up for your event as well. The key for this step is getting people excited for your virtual summit so they’ll want to join and share valuable information with others!
The day has finally come! You and your team are finally ready to host your virtual summit. This step is where every aspect of the event planning process comes together to produce a valuable summit for everyone involved.
Just as much as you prioritize the virtual summit event itself, you should prioritize any post event follow up. This is another important part in hosting a virtual summit- you want attendees to not only remember the summit, but you also want them to have a positive lasting impression of your company as the host. Send follow up messages to attendees thanking them for joining the event, and even provide recordings of important moments and of different speakers. This way members will never forget valuable information and key points that they learned at the virtual summit. Don’t be afraid to send a follow up post-event survey either to get feedback on all your successes and areas of improvement for your next event!
Now that you have a little more background about what a virtual summit is and how it should be planned for, it’s time to think of some summit ideas that can enhance an attendee’s experience. There are many ways you can do this!
A challenge that can happen when hosting events that are virtual is they can lack immersiveness and motivation for the attendees to learn - AKA, lacking any fun. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! Many platforms like Hubilo have features that allow attendees to increase their engagement and have fun at the same time. Gamification through virtual integrations incentivizes attendance and encourages networking by promoting fun competition and rewarding healthy play. Hubilo offers fun activities like polls, live chats, contests, emojis, and more to greatly enhance your online virtual summit. Not only should a summit be informative and educational, but it should be fun, too!
Since attendees, speakers, and hosts can’t have in-person conversations with each other, including a live chat in your virtual summit can be a great equivalent. It allows event goers to ask questions, share their thoughts, and give feedback while also interacting with other attendees right in the moment. It also allows for attendees to participate more in conversations by providing a space to introduce themselves and discuss anything.
These days, just about everyone is on social media, so not utilizing a tool like that for a virtual summit event would not be wise. Depending on which specific social media platform the majority of your attendees use, you can integrate something fun to increase engagement. Start a Facebook group, create a custom hashtag for Instagram or Twitter - the possibilities are endless! Not only will integrating the summit onto social media increase engagement for attendees, but it will also provide a more immersive experience for all involved.
From the moment they arrive on the virtual summit site, you want to catch the eyes of attendees immediately. This means you’ll have to design and create a landing page that gets guests both excited and eager to jump right into the event. Many platforms like Hubilo can create custom landing pages where you have the ability to add your company’s branding to the page. Make sure to include additional details on this page too, like a link to the event agenda, details about different speakers, and any other important information.
Now that you have both hosting basics and some extra features to add into your virtual summit, go forth and conquer! Hosting a virtual summit is not easy to do, but with the right planning and a team that’s ready and willing to help, you can create a successful event. If you need some extra assistance, our expert team at Hubilo can help. Explore our different plan options or request a demo today!