The COVID-19 pandemic has brought one aspect of the meeting industry to the forefront of every planner and professional’s mind: Virtual events. What started as an emergency response to being banned from convening in large groups has turned into a staple of the future of meetings, with benefits such as greater outreach and lower costs. Of course, virtual events come with their own challenges, too. From inspirational success stories to step-by-step guides, here is everything you need to know to plan engaging, effective virtual and hybrid events today and in the future.

How to “Unlame” Your Virtual Meeting by Adding Visual Artists

Break out of the gray boxes at your next virtual or hybrid meeting by bringing in illustrators who can add color and capture the reason for the Zoom. Visual artists have long been popular at conferences and brainstorming sessions. We asked animating professionals for tips on how best to make use of a graphic recorder in the era of COVID.

virtualSmart Meetings Virtual Experience: Best Options for Working, Learning and Meeting in a Virtual World

Some 80 meeting experts learned first-hand that while virtual events may not be exactly the same as toasting signature cocktails in person, business, learning and fun can still get done. The second Smart Meetings Virtual Experience had attendees test driving simulated meeting room software.

Expert Tips for Creating Virtual Experiences

Virtual events have graduated lately from a minor topic to being at the center of all discussion. Meeting planners are now trying to meet the new challenges that come with navigating the digital landscape. In the latest Smart Meetings Accelerator, three virtual-event experts weighed in on the elements of successful virtual experiences and how to create ones that resonate.

virtual3 Innovative Ways Industry Groups are Going Virtual

When precautionary measures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic made large conferences “impracticable,” some industry leaders got creative. The Center for Association Leadership (ASAE), Destinations International and IMEX Group are pioneering new ways to ensure that guests remain connected and are still able to hear from speakers and industry partners in real time. Learn the tricks for your hybrid meetings.

hybrid virtualHow to Prepare for a Hybrid Event Future

The future is hybrid. In an informal survey held during Global Meeting Industry Day in April, 62 percent of event planners said their events will be a hybrid-style moving forward, while 18 percent said there will be a greater demand for virtual-only events. This is what you need to know to make the shift to hybrid events successfully.

More Eggs, More Baskets: What Live Events Will Look Like, Post-coronavirus

There is a new model for live events that makes sense in the post-coronavirus world. That is, fewer mega events with thousands of delegates descending on you from all over the world. Instead, focus on more small- and mid-sized events that tour around a geographical region, where attendees can also join via digital channels.

First Virtual Smart Meetings Experience Amplified Human Connections

The debut of the virtual Smart Meeting Experience launched in a succession of simulated meeting rooms that felt refreshingly like the face-to-face encounters of a few months ago. Smart Meetings partnered with Conference Solutions (CSS) to provide a platform that mimicked the tables and chairs of a meeting space and agendas that matched planners and suppliers who could help each other plan for a future where we are all in the same physical room again.

GMID 2020 Drew Virtual Record Attendance

Sheltering in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 made coming together to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) 2020 impossible, but meeting professionals got creative. An attempt to break the Guinness World Records title for largest audience for a virtual conference by #GMIDGoesVirtual brought an unofficial 12,500 for a half-hour presentation. Get inspired at the link.

digital meetingsVR Site Inspections Keep RFPs Moving During Coronavirus Down Time

Virtual site inspections make it possible to experience a ballroom while still practicing social distancing. Smart Meetings asked the experts about how realistic VR tours are today—and what to ask when setting one up.

Taking a FAM in My Pajamas

The idea of virtual FAMs has been out there for a few years now, but nearly all have been pre-packaged video tours of destinations, and they’ve been offered in the name of convenience, not necessity. An increasing number of DMOs also offer livestream and video tours of neighborhoods or specific venues on their websites.