Tips to Take Your Virtual Experience to the Next Level
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual experiences seemed like a temporary measure that would get us through a few months. But now that we’ve adjusted to doing many things from home — including working, meeting with friends, attending conferences, and even getting to know new destinations — we’ve realized that some types of businesses will need to continue to provide virtual experiences for the foreseeable future. We also know a lot more about what works well and what doesn’t. This guide will offer some tips on how to elevate your virtual experiences to provide more value to your customers and ensure they are helping you meet your business goals.
Use Direct Mail
Receiving a box of goodies in the mail is always exciting. Especially when it comes to food and drink-related activities or arts and crafts, sending tools or ingredients in the mail creates a more immersive experience. This will require a lot of planning, from conceptualizing and creating the packages to gathering home addresses at registration and sending packages with enough time to ensure they arrive by the event date. However, all this planning makes for a well-rounded virtual experience that is sure to engage your guests.
Pro tip: Be mindful of any local restrictions when it comes to things like sending alcohol in the mail. Each state has different regulations. One easy way to avoid any issues is to send your attendees a gift card and shopping list instead, so they can purchase everything they need before the virtual experience.
Make It Interactive
It’s easy to get distracted during a one-way presentation, and this could lead to reduced engagement during your virtual experience. Instead of just presenting, get your attendees involved with an interactive activity. For example, if you’re holding a crafting workshop, you could invite guests to show off their final product. You can also use polls and Q&A features to invite guests to send in questions and share their stories.
It’s important to show empathy and understand what your event attendees might be going through. For example, a lot of parents are home with kids and always looking for a fun activity for them, so you can involve your own kids in the event or include kid-friendly options to show that you can relate to their experience. When it comes to events like cooking or cocktail demonstrations, be mindful of access to ingredients. If you’re not shipping the ingredients, keep the list simple so it’s easy for anyone to participate with things they already have at home or can find at most stores.
Use the Chat Feature
Regardless of which platform you’re using for your virtual experience, there’s likely to be a chat option. Take advantage of this to build community and allow people to connect throughout the event. You can get things rolling with a prompt related to the event, like asking guests to type in their favorite road trip spot in the chat. This can get the conversation going, and it gives your attendees a chance to meet like-minded people and build that sense of connection we’re all looking for.
Have a Local Mindset
One of the great things about virtual experiences is people can attend from anywhere in the world, but this can present some challenges when it comes to scheduling. Planning your events with a local mindset can help keep the events relevant to guests’ lives. For example, if you’re having a morning yoga event, it’s a good idea to send an invite to only the people in your timezone or near timezones so all your attendees are actually experiencing it in the morning. You can even create multiple events for different timezones so you can broaden your reach.
The term local can have different meanings in this context. In the morning yoga example, it’s defined by timezones. If you’re using direct mail to send tools or gifts related to your event, local might mean that you need to limit it to only attendees in your country to reduce shipping costs and avoid any shipping delays.
Use Data to Make Decisions
It takes a lot of work to put together a virtual experience, and you want to make sure your ROI makes it worth your while. Make sure you’re gathering data after each experience to get a better idea of what’s working well. How many people are dropping off before the end of the experience? How many people are RSVPing but not attending? As with any marketing effort, you want to set some goals for each event to measure performance.
For many in the travel and tourism industry, virtual experiences will continue to be a way to expand brand reach and bring in revenue. If you’re looking to elevate your experiences and truly engage your guests, try out a few of these tips and find what works best for your audience. For more on this topic, explore our guides on preparing for your virtual experience and marketing your event.