Online Events Malaysia — A Breakdown
There is no denying that face-to-face interaction is still a preferred medium for some of us in the event planning industry here in Malaysia. After all, there is nary a perfect substitute for the intimacy of a physical presence. However, within the last few months, we’ve seen the event organizing zeitgeist shift dramatically towards the digital spectrum, driven by lockdown restrictions as well as a growing public preference towards online events.
And in regards to that, you may wonder, ‘How do I engage with my audience through virtual events then?’
The answer is simple: ‘Find a virtual event organizer.’
Granted, you may think that you can host Facebook or Instagram Lives just fine, so why should you hire a virtual event organizer? There are numerous reasons that we will consider in-depth further down this article, but to give an easy answer — ‘for the same reasons you would hire an event organizer for physical events’. Much like you would have considerations such as venue, floor layout, and catering for your physical event, virtual events also come with their own set of intricacies.
Needless to say, virtual events are seeing an increased popularity in Malaysia, and thus the importance of a specialized virtual event organizer is more apparent than ever.
What is a Virtual or Online Event? How Does It Compare to Physical Events?
Virtual events take place within a digital space, and don’t require attendees to be in a fixed, physical venue. To summarize, here are some of the obvious, as well as some of the subtler differences between the two:
You can reach a wider audience; attendees can participate from anywhere in the world
Attendees need to physically show up to the event, thus venue location needs to be taken into consideration from both event organizer and attendees
Cost analyses will primarily focus on the different virtual event solutions and the features the online platform comes with
Funding considerations revolve around factors such as venue and equipment rentals, catering, and performances
With your attendees being out of physical reach and prone to external distractions beyond your control, the challenge therein as a virtual event organizer lies with setting the right mood and ensuring your attendees are focused throughout the event
Being limited to the physical space the venue provides makes it less likely for your attendees to drop off halfway. You will also have an easier time creating the desired ambiance with music, venue layout and lighting
Not for everyone — younger and more tech-savvy adults will have an easier transition towards online events
No technical know-how required for attendees to participate
The Common Types of Virtual Events in Malaysia
The line between different types of virtual events can be blurry at times, but differences do exist. Here are some virtual events you may have seen or participated in while within the cyberspace:
- Live Streams
- Virtual Conferences
- Online Awards Ceremonies
- Hybrid Events
The interactive nature of a live stream means it can be used to host giveaways, online auctions, or even virtual trade shows. Other types of streams can include musical performances, talk shows, and book reading sessions.
Unlike live stream sessions, webinars are more often assisted with learning materials such as slideshows, interactive virtual assets, and even games, for the purpose of better delivering information. With Malaysia in an economic downturn due to the pandemic, webinars prove to be a very cost-effective way for both organizer and participants alike when it comes to learning.
A virtual conference consists of many-to-many communication. It is mainly used to organize meetings online between attendees who may have difficulty being physically present.
With an online awards ceremony, aside from live streaming the entire event, certain mid-stream transitions and cutaways are often required. Clients may also sometimes request for specialized virtual platform features such as a social wall to adequately highlight award recipients and sponsors. As such, the technical requirements on the virtual event platform tend to be
more stringent than most for the virtual awards ceremony.
A hybrid event gets the best of both worlds; those who can’t physically attend can still be a part of the event via video streams, alongside participants who are physically there. Many businesses with spread-out branches or employees often adopt this approach to organizing events where there may be too many constraints in having every participant be physically present in the same room.
What to Look For in a Virtual Event Platform
Depending on the nature of your event and how you’d like it to be conducted, you may have quite a few options for the virtual event platform. Certain services will be available when you sign with some virtual event organizers and not others. To better help you make an informed decision, here are some factors to consider:
- Event Feedback
- Ease of Integration
Your website is often used as a marketing tool to draw prospective attendees to your virtual event. It should communicate the idea that your event represents and give out important details such as scheduling, performer/speaker lineup, and game features, if any. Your website can even have a ton of interactive features to make the experience more immersive, such as the Tiger Virtual Street Food Festival that ran in Malaysia last year, sporting elements such as avatar creation and an interactive map.
Like in-person events, virtual events need to be data-driven. Having a page for users to register email addresses will be good for sending out newsletters and keeping them up-to-date. In addition, you will have a better chance at making your virtual event, and any potential future events for that matter, a success if you can understand your attendees’ interests.
It may be difficult to quantify verbal feedback at times. Even more so when you, as a virtual event organizer, are not in the same room with your attendees. Having the proper tools to collect and sort feedback will make it much simpler to analyse it later on.
Your virtual event platform doesn’t always have to be a standalone software. Having good connectivity between your event management tools, payment gateways, and attendees database will make analysis more seamless and accurate than if you were to compare metrics separately. You can even make it so that marketing insights are acted upon automatically.
Top 7 Steps to Planning a Successful Online Event
As a general rule-of-thumb, here are some factors you may consider when it comes to planning your online event:
- The Audience
- The Goal
- The Delivery
- The Platform
- The Build-Up
- The Logistics
- The Rehearsal
Who are you doing this event for? Ask questions like: What do they know about your brand and why should they be interested? Which part of your event generates the most buzz or is most anticipated by your attendees?
What type of promotions are they most receptive to?
You may already have some idea of the answer to these questions, but if you don’t, you can also verify your assumptions with pre-event surveys, which can also help to raise awareness.
For what purpose are you organizing this event? Is it to generate sales or to educate attendees? Are you looking to create interest among a certain group of people, or do you want to entertain? What metrics will you use to measure event success? It is imperative that the goal(s) is clear, attainable, and measurable, and that your virtual event planning team is aligned on the KPIs of the project.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t be expecting the experience of a virtual event to be the same as an in-person event, as the two operate on entirely separate models.
Once you have clear event goals set, you should decide on the right way to engage with your attendees and how to best convey the message of your event. If your intent is to educate, you may opt for webinars or virtual conferences, whereas online trade shows can be more effective for product launches.
Here, you can spread your wings a little and try something different from what your competitors are offering in order to stand out.
Your platform is to your virtual events what your venue is to your in-person events, with a few extra perks. There are a myriad of virtual event solutions and organizers out there, and though they may look as though they provide the same basic features at first glance, a closer look into your own event needs and expectations will quickly highlight gaps that a vendor may not provide for.
Scrutinize what features are being offered and go through user testimonials to find which platform best suits your needs.
As with in-person events, you need to create traction to ensure your event reaches a wide enough audience. These can be done through different channels, such as newsletters and social media. Paid ads on Facebook and Instagram are fairly inexpensive, and allow news of your event to reach users who are more inclined to participate based on big data.
Planning a solid marketing strategy is key, especially when you may be competing with a dozen other similarly-themed events in the information-saturated cyberspace.
While it is okay to host a virtual event from the comfort of your home, that doesn’t always mean you should. Bearing in mind the tone of your event, consider if renting a professional studio may be a better choice. While you can supplement at-home sessions with a backdrop, studios can often provide you professional equipment to up the quality of your stream.
Aside from which, timing is still key, convenient as it may be. You should know which time slots will see the highest number of participants and plan accordingly. With lockdown and WFH protocols still in place, you may have a little more wiggle room when it comes to hosting on weekdays, although it will still largely depend on the online traffic trends.
Just like practice runs for real events, you should run several rehearsals to ensure that all your equipment is working well. It will also help your cast get used to how the equipment works, and gives you a feel for what your attendees would see, thus allowing you to make adjustments until you get the result you want.
The Virtual Event Planning Checklist for 2022
- Understand the purpose you wish to achieve with your event
- Translate your high-level objectives into measurable goals
- Convey your vision to your virtual event organizers and learn if they can cater to your technical expectations
- Formulate a suitable content and marketing strategy
- Establish accessible channels for gathering attendees’ feedback
- Share findings with key stakeholders and document information methodically for a future event
Best Virtual Event Ideas
With full virtual and hybrid events, the biggest challenge is often their somewhat impersonal nature. You can mitigate that by offering free merchandise to your attendees, similar to door gifts in a real event. Freebies are often appreciated, and if you have a dedicated following for your brand, gifting swag is a good way to strengthen brand loyalty.
Alternatively, you can do giveaways in the middle of the stream to keep your audience engaged. You can keep it simple like pulling a random name out from the chatbox, or make things more interesting by implementing minor gamification features like a lucky draw wheel.
Important Questions to Ask When Planning a Virtual Event
While we don’t intend to leave you with more questions than answers, you should ask yourself these next few things before deciding to go searching for a virtual event organizer:
- What is your desired method of delivery? Is a physical space absolutely required?
- Are you going to monetize your event? What is your pricing strategy?
- How will you make your event stand out?
- What metrics are you using to measure success?
- What is your protocol in the event of poor connectivity?
What You Need to Do Before the Virtual Event
Half the battle lies in the prep work before the event. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Purpose of the event — Understanding what you want to achieve with your event will help establish a focus from which you can hone in on. When in doubt, you should be able to double back to what your overall objectives are and regain clarity on what your next steps should be.
Capital allocations and a budget strategy — In the absence of traditional costs from venue booking and catering services, you will need to understand the price points for each virtual platform as well as the type of services they offer.
Content delivery plan — How will you choose to deliver your message to your audience? Understanding how people could potentially react to different elements of your event will go a long way in tailor crafting a unique experience that will keep your attendees engaged throughout the duration of your virtual event.
Defining your technical requirements — What will be on your technical checklist to realize your vision? Specialized equipment such as professional cameras, mics and external lighting are one thing, but you will also need to take into account non-tangible needs such as system integrations, dedicated video editing software, and gamification features.
Sell your event — Rome wasn’t built in a day. Gathering a sizable following will require a consistent effort in getting your name out. You may decide to go for paid ads to generate new leads, or entice new users to sign up by offering early bird prices or free gifts.
Find backers — While it seems more cost-effective to host your event virtually at first, things can sometimes get out of hand, especially when you plan to have a ton of features. Having sponsors will not only provide you with the fiscal injection necessary to keep you afloat, you may even gain access to their mailing lists and ride on the strength of their brands.
Questions to Ask Before Moving to a Virtual Event
If you’re living in Malaysia, you’ll know that laws can change rather suddenly, and there may be instances when the in-person event you’ve been planning will have to be scrapped or shifted online. Here’s what you should consider before taking any action:
- Will you still be able to deliver the main points of your event?
- Are you able to track attendance digitally? If not, is it possible to set it up in short notice?
- Do you have a technical support team at the ready for when you go virtual?
- Do your attendees have the materials they need to join virtually?
What You Need to Do During a Virtual Event
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Here’s how you might want to manage on D-day:
Interact with your audience throughout your live stream sessions — Retain the attention of your audience as much as possible. Don’t just give one-sided information for an hour. Incorporate little engagements mid-way to help keep everyone focused.
Gathering data — Keep track of your attendees’ comings and goings throughout your event. You can look at key data points such as demographics, individual interests, and bounce rates. This will not only be helpful in improving on what your event is lacking in, but also vital to proving the success of your event to prospective sponsors.
Foster an environment conducive for networking — Don’t look at your event as a one-and-done, but as a platform for future projects. To that end, you will want to form good connections with both your sponsors as well as your attendees. A lot of the time, keeping discussions engaging is all it takes to create a long-lasting and favorable impression.
What You Need to Do After the Virtual Event
No time to rest on your laurels. Even after the virtual event is over, there are still some things to look into, such as:
Gather attendees’ feedback — Surveys are a good way to learn how your event was received. Encourage attendees to give opinions on what they thought were good and which parts needed improving. You may even get some unconventional suggestions worth exploring. User testimonials can also be a strong marketing tool for future events.
Crunch some numbers — Don’t leave your raw data idle. Break them down and find out how your attendees’ responses measure up to your own expectations. This can also help you paint a more realistic picture of your target audience.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. — Identify critical gaps in how your event was run and have brainstorming sessions on how to overcome them in your next event.
Why Hosting an Online or Virtual Event is a Better Option Now?
Faced with a seemingly endless pandemic, society has learned to embrace new norms. This means reducing in-person interactions to better curb the transmission of COVID-19, as well as learning to operate our daily lives via the Internet. Thankfully, setting up web meetings and live streaming sessions is relatively easy — anyone with a camera and decent connectivity can host their own virtual event in minutes.
Compared to in-person events, planning a virtual event is also much more affordable. Many of the traditional costs are eliminated in place of additional services provided by the virtual event organizer, which at its base, are much more inexpensive.
Host Your Online Events with The The Leading Virtual Event Organizer in Malaysia: MyVirtually
By now, you should have a rough idea of what to expect from your virtual event organizer. The question that remains is this, ‘What virtual event organizer out there is good for me?’ If you’d like to give us the benefit of the doubt, we strongly encourage you to check us out at MyVirtually.
Aside from your typical virtual event streaming needs, we also have a team of highly experienced staff to provide onsite technical support and ensure the smooth running of your virtual event. Whether it be the setting up 3D/2D virtual environments or creating interactive videos, MyVirtually does it all.
With our singular goal of ‘Creating Value Beyond Conventional Events’, we pride ourselves on being one of the best virtual event organizers in Malaysia. But if you’re still not convinced, feel free to pay us a visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a virtual event platform?
A virtual event platform is a digital space that works to emulate the mood and experience of a live event as closely as possible. It can consist of standalone software solutions integrated together, or pre-packaged into a comprehensive suite. Using these technologies, virtual event platforms allow users to experience events online as if they were physically there.
2. How do you organize a virtual event?
Set out clear goals for your event. Then, find the right platform to best deliver your content to your audience. Promote extensively to draw in prospective participants. You will also want to gather quality feedback during the event. Engage with your audience as much as possible. Once it’s all over, troubleshoot what went wrong and how you can improve in your next virtual event. Remember to also follow up with your attendees.
3. How much do virtual event planners charge?
It largely depends on the scale of your online event and the services you will require. Some virtual event organizers can provide for pre-event services like registration, email marketing integrations, payment integrations, to event management facilities such as attendee check-in. You may also be able to request for in-house event analytics with some organizers. We would highly suggest you enquire with your desired virtual event organizer for better clarity.
4. How do I find a virtual event organizer?
A simple Google search should give you a decent list of organizers to work with. If you’re a regular patron of online events, you can also connect with the host to find out which virtual event organizer they would recommend. A lot of the time, these events are about networking, after all.
5. How do I choose a virtual event platform?
When choosing a virtual event platform, your decision will mostly revolve around the functionality of the software. You may want, for example, your attendees to be able to register on the platform itself as opposed to having to integrate a separate registration system. Having a virtual lobby where attendees can chat and foster new connections with like-minded people may also be important to you. The best virtual event platform is one that caters to your specific needs.
6. How do you make interactive virtual events?
Incorporate elements such as live chats, polls, and Q&As into your program to keep your audience engaged. You can also introduce an interactive agenda to give your audience a more dynamic overview of your event, and perhaps even have the flexibility to jump between sessions that are held at the same time.
7. How long should a virtual event be?
There are many types of online events, and each may operate on a different model with respect to time. As a reference, studies have shown that a typical web conference gets the most retention with a 20-minute rule of audience attention span.
8. What is the best time to host a virtual event?
For constraints on time, it is best to look to your audience for answers. Are they segregated based on time zone? Finding out which periods of the day your website and social media posts get the most engagement can also be a good indicator of what would be the best time to host an event.
9. How much does it cost to host a virtual trade show?
If you’re looking to do a product launch, doing it virtually is definitely something to consider. It is going to be more cost-effective, and there is a lower barrier of entry when it comes to fees, as opposed to actual trade shows where many of the standard operating costs like manpower and venue rental come into play.
10. What features to look for in a virtual event planner?
Ideally, your virtual event organizer should be able to have some modularity and room for customization without cascading side-effects. If possible, try to go for end-to-end event management solutions. This will help you save time and effort from having to integrate different systems. You should also have at your disposal the necessary tools to interact with your attendees.