Wendy Hu

Innovation and Opportunity in Online Event Planning

In Fashion Features, Mingle Mastermindby Erica Yanus

Online event planning has become a necessity for many in the fashion industry as the Coronavirus pandemic has forced us to seek new ways to keep our brands in front of consumers. We discussed the rapid changes and opportunities in virtual events with Wendy Hu, the founder of Visual Conductor, an NYC boutique design studio that brings brands to life through experiential activations.

 

Visual Conductor crafts exciting, memorable experiences for events, interactive installations, retail design, pop-ups, fashion runway and more with brands such as Covergirl, Clairol, Dove, and Johnson’s. In a response to the realities of a global pandemic, 

Like most people, Visual Conductor founder, Wendy Hu was uncertain about the future of her business when the pandemic hit. The idea of offering online event planning for her clients occurred to her after she started participating in virtual meetings. To test out her idea, she needed to experiment with hosting her own online event, embracing her mantra, “Through adversity comes innovation and opportunity”. 

Visual Conductor launched their first online experience called “dancIN’’, a virtual party experiment with a core mission of supporting the creative community and bringing positive energy in a time of social isolation. When organizing Visual Conductor’s event, “Dancin’” there were 3 things Wendy wanted to accomplish: 

  1. Create a joyful and fun experience for attendees who are in isolation. 
  2. Support local artists and musicians who have lost income due to the pandemic. 
  3. Conduct an innovative experiment to test her virtual event ideas. 

Although Wendy understood that this might not be the best time to sell tickets to an online event, she charged $10 to attend so that she could share the proceeds with the artists, creatives, and tech experts who helped put the event together. She shared what she learned with our Fashion Mingle Mastermind Group.

6 Steps for Successful Online Event Planning:

  1. Create a game plan: Pick a day and time that doesn’t face heavy competition. If you’re hosting a global virtual event, be aware of how different time zones will affect participation.
  2. Choose a platform: Zoom, Twitch, Facebook Live, and Instagram are just a few of the most popular online event platforms. 
  3. Promote the event: Share the event details with your email list and use all available tools on social media and event platforms such as Eventbrite.
  4. Be prepared for technology problems: Conduct a complete test run in advance of your event so that you can solve technology problems.
  5. Encourage engagement: Ask attendees to use a chat function or take a quiz. Push for live tweeting or take requests. These activities will help attendees feel involved in the event despite being home alone.
  6. Ask for feedback: Survey your guests after the online event to gauge their experience and learn how to improve their experience. 

How to Promote Online Events:

Messaging is very important for virtual events. Consumers today are a lot smarter and selective with their time. Flashy visuals and information aren’t enough to get people to attend. Your job is to inspire people, connect with them, and offer an event they can relate to. Take the time to understand your target audience and create an online event that will be impactful for that audience. 

  • Try to get a sponsor or media partner to help provide credibility and publicity. 
  • Pick and theme and keep visually consistent with all your promotions, using a professional graphic designer will create the most impact with promotions. 
  • Send a series of attention-grabbing emails to your list.
  • Recruit friends and family to help get the word out. 
  • Use keywords in blog and social media posts to boost your search potential. 
  • Utilize social media tools such as an event countdown in Instagram Stories, Facebook Events, and listing your event on platforms like Eventbrite.
  • Create and promote an event hashtag to keep people engaged before, during, and after the event and post a link to your event page everywhere you can. 
  • Run Facebook and Instagram ads to boost your social media posts. Make sure you target your advertisements strategically and choose the right channel for your market. 
  • Keep people excited about the event by sharing behind-the-scenes pictures and videos of the planning process. 
  • Post a full video recording of the event on YouTube to use in future promotions and share with attendees. 

Tips for Creating an Engaging Online Event Experience

Online event planning can be overwhelming, however there are simple things you can do to create an engaging experience for your attendees.

Create a Branded Background

  • Zoom allows the host and participants to load a virtual background. The technology is new, so it still needs improvement. 
  • Green screens and light kits are inexpensive, but will allow you to upload a professional background graphic that can promote your logo or an image. You can also use this technique to promote an event sponsor. 
  • You can easily make a branded background on Photoshop or Canva.

Keep Technology Simple

There is a lot of technology that can be enticing to experiment with, however, Wendy urges you not to use Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality just for the sake of using them. Only use AR and VR in your event if they really add value. “Simplicity is better until you’re comfortable with the technology” says Wendy. 

Avoid Screen Fatigue

People are spending a lot more of their day in Zoom meetings and on social media during quarantine resulting in “screen fatigue”. So create an event that will help attendees stay engaged.

  • Ask yourself what you would like to see if you were watching a virtual event.
  • Ask yourself what goals you want to accomplish by hosting this online event
  • Use a static background so your attendees won’t have trouble looking at the screen for a long period of time. 
  • Engage attendees through photo booths, giveaways, contests, polls, comments, and live participation. Keep switching up activities so your attendees are having fun. 

How COVID-19 Will Shape the Future of Events

As an event planner, Wendy shared her predictions about how the fashion industry can take advantage of the willingness to participate in online events while the world is dealing with COVID-19. 

  • Live events will need to have a smaller crowd and include distribution of masks and a team for cleaning surfaces. 
  • Live events and virtual events don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Add a virtual event plan to your live event to attract a global audience.
  • The online event industry will keep innovating to create a more user-friendly experience for event planners and attendees that connect marketing, ticket sales and hosting the event together on one platform.   

Our Mastermind group’s strategies for using virtual technology in their fashion and beauty businesses

Our Fashion Mingle Mastermind Group has already started implementing virtual meetings, webinars, and events into their business models. We shared new strategies and ideas that will help the fashion industry transition and create new opportunities for business growth. 

Attract a global audience: Claire Perez of New York Makeup Academy converted her NYC in-person training courses to online and is experiencing great success since they can now offer classes to a global audience. 

Business development: Colleges are closed and many people have additional time on their hands. Fashion Mingle launched Mingle Mastermind so members could use this time to improve their business management and marketing. We’re also launching a Fashion Mingle Coaches program to help members get one-on-one training in the areas where they need the most help. 

Model fittings and photos shoots:  Dale Noelle of TRUE Model Management is working with clients virtually by shipping clothes and products to models who have learned how to conduct fittings and photoshoots from home. They are also using 3D body scanning technology to help conduct fittings for fashion brands. 

Protecting Yourself Legally: Fashion Business Attorney, Shirin Movahed recommends that you have legally binding disclaimers and releases to product yourself. Since everyone is experimenting with new ways of doing business, getting the advice of a fashion and business attorney will help protect you from problems you may not have thought of. 

Get Connected: If your business offers services that can help with online event planning and production, sign up for our new virtual event category in the Fashion Mingle Global Fashion Directory. Our professional fashion and beauty industry directory has thousands of resources to help you with every stage of your business in 100+ categories. 

Join us every Friday at 1pm EST for a new Mingle Mastermind session. Register here 

You can watch all our Mingle Mastermind webinars on our Youtube channel and Facebook.

About Erica Yanus

Erica is a recent Marketing graduate from LIM College. When she isn’t working at Fashion Mingle, you can find her exploring, taking photographs or tracking down the best food places.

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