Early on in 2021, our team of virtual event experts enrolled in the Certification Program of the Virtual Events Institute (VEI), with a clear focus on upskilling event professionals with the knowledge and tools to deliver excellent virtual and hybrid events.
VEI serves the global events community by providing education, knowledge, innovation, and best practice to ensure virtual and hybrid event excellence.
Our Business Development Manager, Marina Papadopoulou, was one of the first on our team to complete the Certification Program.
We interviewed Marina to find out more about the training and virtual event strategies she has learned as a result of the VEI Certification Program.
Q: Why did you sign up for the virtual events training?
Marina: With the pandemic and its transformative impact on the industry, I realised that this is the time to ‘unlearn what we have learned’. Events are evolving as we reset for the future. As a venue, we are facing reduced event sizes on-site but expectations have increased. As event professionals, I feel that we have a responsibility to engage digital technologies. How else can we build the next normal of events? The VEI Certification Program was instrumental in helping me learn new relevant digital skills and has given me the confidence to engage with tech and events concurrently.
Q: How have you applied the learning to the venue, Church House Westminster?
Marina: By innovating we’ve transformed into a tech-enabled venue. We quickly adapted our hybrid and virtual formats in 2020 working collaboratively with our in-house audio-visual and production team we have invested in tech solutions, a virtual studio, a podcast studio, newly designed hybrid offerings, and virtual team-building.
We’ve remained flexible with our hybrid events, which really is a back-up plan for face-to-face events.
We’ve engaged with our clients by listening and finding new opportunities which allow us to create experiences. We’ve never tried to replicate in-person events online.
Q: What are your three top tips for organising virtual events
- First things first – establish your why. Decide what needs to be done face-to-face and what can be achieved online.
- There’s no perfect platform, just the best fit for your event, depending on your content/ reason for the event.
- Know your audience – it’s about engaging content and networking opportunities. Do not hold back on production quality and creativity.
Q: Share with us your future predictions for events
- The purpose of event organisers will be more than just organising, they will build and grow communities to extend the lifetime of events. Examples include future formats that require participation, as opposed to attendance.
- Virtual events will be with us for some time as we navigate to live-events. The reason for this is that we’ve seen in the last months just how affordable it is to reach extended markets, capture engagement data effectively, provide a tailored experience. Whilst international travel remains uncertain, virtual provides a very sustainable option.
- Face-to-face events cannot be replaced by virtual, but virtual can complement events taking place in real-time. This is where hybrid events combine the best of both worlds.