We often get asked about the possibility of doing webinars or virtual events, or both? Our iVent platform can do either of those, but what matters is what you want to get out of it. So we’ve asked ourselves, what is the difference between virtual events and webinars?
Let’s start by defining the two
A webinar is a simple web-based interface that allows people to listen to a presenter via webcam and interact by asking questions. It’s mainly designed for smaller groups such as internal meetings, training sessions or workshops. They usually include some form of viewer engagement, such as live chat or polls, and are often delivered Live rather than pre-recorded. Created in the early 90’s, webinars have become a superior part of the 21st century marketing mix – until now. It’s true that virtual events may include webinars as part of their schedule, however, they are so much more than a single stand-alone session. A virtual event is essentially a physical event replicated online, without the physical bottlenecks. They’re a modern solution to outdated and inflexible physical event formats where attendees can expect multiple different options in regards to how and when they want to participate; no longer being limited by unchangeable single webinar spaces.
What’s the difference?
Attendees can join live seminars, real time networking rooms, engage in live chat either privately in a 1-2-1 with the event or booth host or as part of a discussion, visit global exhibitor booths and meet with representatives from around the world, all with the flexibility and convenience of 24 hour event access including on-demand content and offline chat. Webinars are excellent as a marketing or information delivery tool but they aren’t events in the classic sense of what we know an event to be. Trade Shows, Exhibitions, Careers Fairs, product launches and multi-dimensional conferences delivered online are not webinars, but they are all virtual events.
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So, why do a virtual event?
We often hear concerns from clients that virtual events remove the ability to communicate in real-time with your event attendees. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With interactive agendas that allow attendees to create their own personal schedule, help desks and information points where they can gather prospectuses and hints and tips, integrated social media channels, pop-up welcome messages and ticker tape announcements – to name a few – communicating with your audience during the event is nothing to worry about. Although webinars remain popular, and they are an important part of virtual events, organisations are seeking more than just a simple presentation. They want engagement, usable event data, flexible event spaces they can use all year round. They want all of the best parts of a physical event represented online with the ability to grow a global network without the extensive travel and associated event cost.