A virtual summit is a great way to bring people together and earn non-dues revenue for your organization.
Your summit platform should include the basic features that enable your attendees and sponsors to network, engage, and navigate their way around the virtual event.
To illustrate, some basic features include a welcoming home page, a navigable session page, and a chat room for networking.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What a Virtual Summit is
- Why Virtual Summits are Here to Stay
- The Best Virtual Summit Software Tools
- The Best Virtual Summit Platform
At OpenWater, we’ve helped over 150 organizations go virtual with their summits with our services and our virtual conference platform.
If you’d like to talk through your summit needs with a representative, feel free to schedule a demo.
What is a Virtual Summit?
A virtual summit is an event that takes place online. Typically, summits attract professionals and experts in a specific industry or field to present on topics they’ve studied.
At a virtual summit, attendees have the opportunity to network, learn, and share their knowledge with one another.
In the same way, sponsors are also able to network, learn and share. However, a sponsor’s primary goal when attending any event is to gather leads for the business they represent.
For the hosting organization, a virtual summit is an opportunity to increase awareness and earn non-dues revenue. The main ways an organization earns revenue is through registration fees and selling sponsorship opportunities to other organizations.
In a word, the common goal is growth for all parties involved in the event.
For example, a sponsor attends a virtual summit to gather leads and grow the company or organization they represent.
For attendees, their goal for growth is to learn from other experts and expand their network with other professionals.
Lastly, the hosting organization uses a virtual summit to expand their reach by gaining new members and earning the revenue they need to grow.
When searching for a platform, it’s important to make sure the provider knows how to satisfy everyone’s goal to grow.
Virtual Summits are Here to Stay
There is growing evidence that online conferences are here to stay.
At OpenWater, we typically see virtual conference attendance increase 2-3x. Surely, this is an attractive metric that organizations are bound to keep in mind down the road.
For the foreseeable future, attendees don’t want to attend in-person events.
To provide an example that looks a little farther down the road, 80% of those surveyed said that in-person and virtual events will co-exist in the future according to a study by Integrate.
Now is the time to get acquainted with how to host a virtual conference or a virtual summit, because it’s clear they are here to stay well beyond the pandemic.
The Best Virtual Summit Software Tools
Ultimately, a successful virtual summit requires the best tools to make it happen.
In the past, we wrote an article that goes into detail about the best virtual conference tools and how we use them to host successful virtual events.
Here’s the software the article covers:
(best for platforms with breakout rooms and virtual networking platforms)
(best for internal communication)
(best for project organization)
- Hello Bar
(best for sponsorship – see our sponsorship prospectus for more)
(best for communication with attendees)
These are all great tools to look out for when searching for any event platform.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that your conference can have all the bells and whistles, but it doesn’t mean your attendees and sponsors will engage.
That being said, you need to structure your conference with networking in mind. To learn more about how to engage your attendees to ensure your virtual summit is successful, check out our free guide, The Virtual Conference Structure to Maximize Sponsor Revenue and Networking.
The Best Virtual Summit Platform
In short, the best platform is navigable and engaging for your participants, and will satisfy the common goal of growth for all parties involved.
Most importantly, your virtual summit platform should make it easy for you to host the event.
However, not many platforms will make it easy for you. So, it’s important to find the platform with that little something extra to prepare you and get you through the event.
At OpenWater, that little something extra comes in the form of our virtual conference platform services.
Here’s a list of just a few of the services we offer:
- Free Virtual Event Office Hours for training before the event
- Summit Platform Build Out to create the perfect summit website
- Day of Summit Support to help if there are any issues during the event
Not many platform providers have support to make sure your summit will go off without a hitch.
If you want your virtual summit to be successful, find a platform that comes with the services you’ll need to help make it happen.