How to Make Your Virtual Event Attendees Feel Like VIPs

June 19, 2023
Meisha Bochicchio
Meisha Bochicchio
Senior Content Marketing Manager at Goldcast

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It’s a given every attendee should feel like a VIP. 👑

But when it comes to those key accounts that can make or break your annual targets, it’s more important than ever to pull off an unforgettable digital event experience.

“Unforgettable” is the key here, because these are the folks getting event invitations left, right, and center. And only events that promise something extra special will snag the RSVP.

So how exactly do you make your virtual attendees feel like VIPs? Glad you asked. Here are the steps to take your event from average to awesome.

What we’ll cover:

  • Why make your virtual attendees feel like VIPs?
  • Who makes the cut on the VIP guest list?
  • The 5 best ways to make your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs

Why make your virtual attendees feel like VIPs?

It’s no secret putting on a show-stopping performance often requires a little extra prep (and budget 😬).

But once you start to see a healthy event return on investment (ROI), you’ll soon find the time and money is absolutely worth it.

Creating a wow-worthy event for influential audiences and accounts facilitates key conversations. Those connections ultimately lead to new and recurring revenue. And with the right virtual event technology, every dollar an attendee brings can be attributed back to your event.

This creates a virtuous cycle that benefits the attendee, the company, and of course, you in your role as an event marketer.

When you have the data to prove events as the ultimate pipeline-generator they are, you’ll also have the buy-in you need to make the next one even more spectacular.

The world of event marketing is changing fast. If you’re an Event Marketing Manager looking to make the most out of this exciting career, you’ll need to know which skills to focus on. Get the scoop on the Event Marketer of Tomorrow’s Must-have Skills for Success!

Who makes the cut on the VIP guest list?

VIP events have a lot going for them. Stick the landing and you’ve boosted revenue, upped your company’s event marketing profile, and even strengthened brand awareness. #triplethreat

But the success of your VIP event hinges on two things:

1. Who gets an invite.

2. Who actually shows up.

Which means when it comes to your VIP guest list, you’ll have to be selective, strategic and, above all — smart.

Which is where an account based management (ABM) approach to marketing really comes into its own.

Because only by working tightly with your sales team will you know which accounts:

  • Have the capacity for uplift or upselling
  • Are in need of a littleTLC to keep them loyal
  • Are the biggest or longest-standing clients
  • Have slow pipeline velocity in need of speeding up

When you’ve scoped out the accounts with the highest potential in these areas, it’s likely the decision-makers at the top of the food chain you want to invite to your VIP soirée. We’re talking about your Vice Presidents, Directors, Heads of Department, maybe even Founders and CEOs if you’re looking at the startup/scaleup market.

Lean on your sales team here to learn as much as you can about these influential attendees. When you’ve landed that golden RSVP, it’s time to execute like never before.

The 5 best ways to make your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs

Without the benefit of a five-star venue, making your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs is no small feat.

But with these virtual event essentials, you’re set for a next-level experience worthy of that illustrious VIP status.

Ready to raise the bar? Let’s go!

#1. Personalize the experience

“Customer-centric” is the buzzword of the decade. And while it may be a tad overused at this point, the message still rings true:

Your customer (or attendee) has to be the focal point of every decision you make.

So it’s no wonder creating a truly personalized experience is the #1 way to make your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs.

Attendees should walk into your event and know every aspect of it was designed with them in mind, from the initial invitation to the follow-up emails.

Make attendees feel known, heard, and above all, valued. By simply doing that, you’ll know you’re onto a winner.

But how do you deliver the kind of experience that really gets them talking? These two tips are a great place to start.

1. Use previous event data to discover what sessions spoke to your attendees, what resources they downloaded, what questions they asked, and more.

2. Be sure to lean on your sales team for info — they can help you understand your attendee’s journey so far, their end goals, business needs and what’s blocking them from converting.

🔌 Up the VIP voltage: Byensuring your client relationship management (CRM) software is integrated with your event technology, you can push those crucial account-level insights straight to other teams and make sure everyone gets the right follow up.

Before you put pen to paper, you really need to think about who this experience is for, and who the experience is not designed for. That way the experience is all about the attendee and not about you as the host company.” — Nina Butler, Director of Event Experience, Alyce

#2. Level-up your swag game 🛍️

Event gifts have long been a fan favorite when it comes to winning over attendees. After all, who doesn’t love a freebie?

And giveaways hold some pretty rockstar brand building benefits for your organization, too.

But while mailing out branded t-shirts, pens, and notepads might cut it for your average attendee, you have to really step it up for your virtual VIPs. Swag says a lot about your brand, how well you know your attendees, and the thought and effort you’re willing to put in to keep them loyal.

So how do you win at the game of goodies? Start by asking the right questions:

  • Where does swag fit within your event budget and customer acquisition cost (CAC)?
  • What do you want to achieve with your swag?
  • How are you sending it — do you want to mail it or are virtual gifts simpler?
  • Who is your audience and what items would they need/enjoy?

🔌 Up the VIP voltage: Check out these ultra-opulent options to make your virtual attendees feel like VIPs.

  1. Access to exclusive, money-can’t-buy event content.
  2. Lunch vouchers for local five-star hot spots.
  3. High-end gift baskets delivered ahead of time.

Still looking for inspo? Check out even more swag bag sensations.

In 2020, the most commonly owned promotional products were writing instruments, t-shirts, drinkware and bags. With VIPs on the guestlist, you’re going to need something a little more exciting to win them over. Source: Statista.

#3. Make it interactive

VIP attendees are busy people.

If they're taking time out of their day to attend your event, they’re expecting some major payoff. For event marketers, that equates one thing: expertly executed event engagement.

Because more often than not, the engagement of your guests is directly linked to your event’s success.

Interaction tracking also allows you to review and react to real-time feedback. If a session is receiving low engagement scores — minimal poll answers or questions, lower viewing time, a reduced number of chat or direct messages — cut your losses and move on to the next session.

But above all, how well you interact with VIPs has a huge impact on their perception of your brand. Ace it, and you’ll create brand loyalists for life. Drop the ball, and you’ll have to work doubletime to regain that trust.

🔌 Up the VIP voltage: Use these VIP engagement levers for better attendee interactions.

  • Star-studded speakers — VIPs are at the top of their game, so if you expect them to listen, learn, and be impressed, you’ll need to bring in the big guns.
  • Q&A next-gen video Q&A allows you to upgrade this popular event experience, inviting audience members to ask their questions ‘on stage’.
  • Polls — used by nearly 82% of virtual event organizers to increase interaction, polls can really help shape conversations and spark debate.
  • Gamification — even VIPs need a little light relief from time-to-time and virtual event gamification is a perfect strategy to keep attendees in your event.

Psst! Want to know more about acing event engagement? Check out these can’t miss tips!

Giving the audience the power to influence the debate and to challenge was a really important piece when choosing Goldcast.” — Callum Donnelly, Business Development, Waylay

#4. Keep the conversation flowing 🎟️

VIP events offer event marketers the opportunity for intimate, meaningful sales conversations that allow you to get closer to VIP decision-makers.

But the ability to network has to work in all directions.

If you really want to make your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs, you have to give them ample opportunity to network with peers, fellow attendees, sponsors, speakers, and even entertainers. After all, forging connections with other high-flying industry bigwigs, or meeting celeb performers is a key reason they bothered to show up in the first place.

But how do you take those organic networking moments and make them virtual?

Well actually, it’s pretty simply with:

🔌 Up the VIP voltage: By offering exclusive access to intimate VIP sessions, fireside chats, Q&As, roundtables, booths and rooms within your pre-existing event. These spaces afford your key accounts an elevated experience — meeting speakers, engaging in debate, trying product demos, and accessing all the behind-the-scenes event perks.

My least favorite virtual experience is one that doesn't allow for networking and interaction amongst attendees. Everyone is craving social interactions so it's important to always incorporate some fun, engaging social activities during virtual events.” — Margie Pazdan, Senior Marketing Manager at Zscaler

#5. Get experiential 🍷

An A+ event should always feel like an experience.

Simply rocking up, listening and leaving isn’t enough. Especially if you’re set on making your virtual event attendees feel like VIPs.

You need to throw something extra epic into the mix to make the experience positive, memorable and valuable. It’s all about brand recall — when attendees look back at how they spent those hours or days, they should have a wealth of great memories to pull from.

So break-up your VIP events with some fun, out-of-the-box ideas that attendees won’t soon forget, including a:

  • DJ to rock the room
  • Live band to serenade your special guests
  • Michelin Star chef to spice up your masterclass
  • Master mixologist to keep things flowing
  • Yoga class or crafts sessions to take a time out

🔌 Up the VIP voltage: Check out our list of Preferred Vendors for hand-selected gold standard event vendors to help win over your VIPs.

Having an exclusive and enticing event, like a wine-tasting, really pulls the prospect in and makes it the most memorable, immersive experience possible.” — Belinda Joseph, Head of Events, Goldcast

Deliver a 5-star event experience 💫

Impressing those at the top comes down to two basic actions:

  1. Delivering a personal event experience
  2. Elevating event engagement

Because ensuring your key accounts feel heard and have a great time is the key to gaining their trust — and their business.

So whether you have cash to splash or you’re bound by a budget, as long as you're forging connections, providing solutions and helping others make long-lasting memories with your brand, you’re crushing the VIP vibe. ✌🏼

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