The future of corporate events could be 'Virtual'. There are now an extensive number of virtual platforms, which are starting to put a complete spin on the traditional event format. People are participating via webinars, hang outs, either from their offices or their smart phones. The key here is participation, as the virtual format creates new ways for audeinces to be involved. Another element for the virtual event is that as sessions are downloadable... they do not necessarily need to be delivered in real time.
There are predictions virtual events will increase in use as the technology continues to improve -- 3D web conferencing si just around the corner.
Live streaming or live broadcast is another way for people to watch events in real time. There are even a number of free broadcasting tools including: Procaster.com, ustream.tv and Qik.com (mobile only).
While access to live streaming can make your event look very cool, it's important to ensure the right technical support is available including use of a web platform with enough bandwidth to produce a good quality experience.
Virtual Gift Bags
You've probably noticed the amount of discarded waste that can come from the traditional sponsored 'goodie bag'. There's usually as super-sized bag, with a small about of items inside. Introducing the virtual gift bag, you may have already met.
Offering virtual swag isn't limited to online events, but it's value is very strategic as it drives visitors directly to the sponsors website - giving them a first hand interaction with the brand. It's a brilliant way to capture leads. There are e-gifts sent via invitation, which can be redeemed in person with local businesses or online.
Most events are using live Tweeting [in one form or another], with custom hashtags to accompany photos and great soundbites from events. Social media is even influencing the content and format of events with live questions via Tweets, and presenters themselves are using software to Tweet to their followers, using the event hashtag whilst on stage.
All this heralds in a new level of connectivity between attendees, presenters and even those offline who get a feel for what is happening at an event, as well as the opportunity to interact via questions. It's worth asking event planners and clients from the outset how they plan to use social media at an event, and ensure that any hashtags are clearly visible so participants [and staff] know what to do.
Who's doing it: Every great event you can think of from SxSW to FODI