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Virtual events have been on the public radar for more than a year now — what was initially a new demand of our pandemic lifestyles is now a regular fixture in our work lives. 

Instead of comparing the challenges of virtual events vs. in-person events, let’s celebrate the virtual format for what it is. Whether you’re planning a virtual conference or a team virtual team building exercise, you’ll want to create an experience that is engaging and entertaining to thank attendees for their attention and participation while breaking up the mundane.

Here are five virtual event ideas from the last year that we loved. Check out these examples and get inspired.

5 creative virtual event ideas we loved seeing this year

1. Surprise home deliveries

You’re used to getting promotional swag at conferences, but what about work-from-home survival kits or cocktail kits? One of our favorite virtual event ideas is sending creative surprise home deliveries to attendees. This is a great option because it works for events of all scopes and sizes — you can send a survival kit with items like snacks, notebooks, branded water bottles, and blue light glasses to attendees of large conferences, or you can surprise your team at a morning all-hands meeting with coffee and donuts delivered to their door. 

A great alternative to a corporate or conference happy hour is to craft a new kind of experience at home — send cocktail kits to attendees before the event and bring on a professional bartender to host a virtual cocktail-making lesson using the supplies from their kits.

2. Virtual worlds

Instead of hopping on Zoom for every meeting, webinar, or virtual conference, some event organizers opted to bring virtual worlds à la The Sims and Second Life to the professional world. Virtual world platforms let you create your own avatar and interact with coworkers, exhibitors, event attendees, and speakers in a completely virtual space that mimics a physical one. This is a fun, gamelike way to go virtual without the webcam. 

3. Experiences you’d normally have to travel for 

Some of the best virtual event ideas come from leaning into the virtual environment rather than forcing physical formats into the new virtual mold. Some brilliant virtual experiences we’ve seen over the last year include: 

  • Making homemade pasta with an Italian grandmother
  • A live magic show from your home
  • A tour of Lisbon’s street art
  • Fitness classes with an Olympic gold medalist
  • Wine tasting with a sommelier in Argentina
  • Origami and Japanese culture lessons with a Tokyo local

There are so many wonderful, fun, and different ways to bring some special elements to your virtual event. Airbnb online experiences are a great place to draw inspiration and find virtual event ideas that you wouldn’t have been able to do in a normal in-person setting. 

4. Virtual concerts

From Billie Eilish to Erykah Badu, and Norah Jones to Post Malone, artists turned their canceled tours into virtual concerts for everyone to enjoy worldwide. Some of these virtual concerts had great displays of artistry and production, while others were intimate and informal, offering a sneak peek into our favorite artists’ homes. Either way, both kinds of performances provided a breath of fresh air in a time we were all stuck at home. 

To integrate virtual concerts in your own virtual event, you could invite your team to tune in together to catch a live streaming virtual concert, or book an artist to perform at your virtual social event or conference entertainment break, creating an exclusive private concert. 

5. Virtual game and trivia nights

In the before times, game night was a beloved weeknight staple for many. Whether it was trivia at a local pub or board games at a friend’s house, game nights were a much-missed tradition during lockdowns. Fortunately, there are alternative ways to safely continue enjoying game night! Independently hosted trivia games on Zoom and multiplayer games like Jackbox’s Quiplash allowed groups to play together virtually. These games are great team building activities and a fun, stress-free way to wrap up a long week. 

These are just a few of the fun and creative virtual event ideas we saw in the past year. As working from home continues to be the norm, we hope to see these virtual experiences evolve and break through the box of “just another Zoom meeting.” 

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
May 21, 2021
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.