Hosting Events in a Pandemic: Transforming the Virtual into Reality

How a little advanced planning can yield higher engagement for your next virtual event.

Meeting with clients and prospects virtually vs. in-person has become somewhat the new normal. But a half-hour meeting is much different than a four-hour virtual event, such as the Gilson Annual Sales Meeting. With this meeting for 30+ sales and executive leaders on the horizon, we knew that we needed a creative solution to engage, intrigue, and excite.

The Challenge

At-home attendees of virtual events and webinars face an abundance of distractions: emails pinging into their inbox; spouses, kids, and pets interrupting; the timer on the dryer going off or the delivery guy dropping off another Amazon package. So, how can a meeting host keep an audience engaged amidst these constant distractions?

The Gilson marketing and sales development team collaborated to create a ‘Virtual Meeting Kit’ that would be sent to each attendee’s home in advance of the meeting.

To ensure timely delivery, they asked each invited guest to complete a short survey that indicated where they would like to receive the package (at the office, at their home, or a different remote location) depending on where they would be the day before and day of the meeting.

Also on the form were a few questions related to food preferences, as well as a color preference for a promotional item that would be included in the kit, just to pique the attendee’s interest.

The Solution

Leading up to the event, attendees were instructed to have their ‘Virtual Meeting Kit’ nearby but not to open it until the meeting. This would keep individuals on their toes, as they wondered when and how the box would be used.

As the meeting began, attendees were invited to open their box and enjoy the snack provided for them. Each recipient received a branded coffee mug, a small bottle of water, and two breakfast snacks based on their responses to the pre-event form. They were also greeted with a personalized notecard, thanking them for attending.

Attendees were kept on their toes during the Million Dollar Club Awards presentation and the coveted Salesperson of the Year Award. A hidden compartment in the bottom of the box held their awards (along with some fun-size participation ribbons), and additional meeting resources.

The Results

At the conclusion of the virtual event, attendees were reminded to complete a survey by scanning the code found on the box insert. Within 24 hours, 60% of attendees had completed the survey. An additional 20% completed theirs within 48 hours.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, not only for the virtual event but also for the Virtual Meeting Kit itself. Even the more seasoned sales veterans who have had to overcome significant technological skill gaps were complimentary of the new format.

“After 53 years in sales, the only sales meetings I attended that were more memorable happened to be at Disney World (true story) during my first two years in sales. Great meeting!!!” quipped one attendee in an email to the organizers following the event.


Hosting an Event? Be Open to the Possibilities.

If virtual events are your “new normal,” don’t settle for a purely digital experience. Reach out to Gilson and discover how you can make your next virtual event an experience your attendees can touch and feel.