Virtual Events are all around us, all thanks to the lockdown restrictions & physical distancing measures in place all over the world.
And while most of us have some experience either planning or attending a virtual event, most of us aren’t sure about the exact differences between types of virtual events.
The onslaught of all kinds of virtual event platforms and their solutions have paved the way for highly engaging & immersive virtual events.
This has led to many event organizers & newbies in the event industry get confused over the exact differences between each kind of virtual event.
The ones that we will talk about specifically in this article, are webinars & virtual events.
Webinars are virtual events in their own right, but lack the wholesome aspects of a virtual event.
While virtual events have come a long way from the single-screen, one-dimensional online events of the old times.
They have truly transformed into fully immersive & realistic virtual experiences for attendees to revel in.
They consist of multiple sessions, multiple stages, auditorium spaces, lobby, networking lounges, interactive 3D elements, complete with gamification options & audience interaction features.
Today’s virtual events can be rightly defined as the virtual version of a physical, in-person event.
A smartly designed virtual event resembles a physical event in the best possible way, consisting of all the necessary elements needed to make it an engaging experience for attendees.
Below, we discuss in detail the differences between virtual events & webinars.
Webinars: What are they?
The Webinars are short for web-based seminars. Webinars are basically collaborative & interactive online seminars that allow for easy communication & interaction amongst attendees & hosts/organizers.
Webinars are often closed, one-time online seminars that are focused on learning in an intimate setting.
In a webinar, hosts often hold online sessions for a fixed period of time, usually up to an hour or two hours. They are also joined by a few presenters that help add more gravitas to the webinar topic & discuss it with the attendees.
Aside from the basic discussion topics & webinar principles, webinars also consist of many visual inputs & audience-interaction features.
These include live streaming of the presenters talking, slide sharing options, whiteboards, surveys, & live chat features for the attendees.
Webinars also usually end with an interactive Q&A session with the attendees which enables them to ask questions to the presenter.
Webinars are also held for a specific kind of audience in any particular industry. More often than not, they help audiences learn any new skill in their particular domain of work.
Other kinds of webinars help the audiences be a part of any discussions concerning their interests in any particular industry.
These webinars usually consist of a distinguished audience panel with expertise in the specific industry concerning the discussion.
Virtual Events: What are they?
Virtual Events, like mentioned previously, are full-blown virtual versions of physical, in-person events.
Unlike webinars, where audience members can only engage in a single discussion over a fixed period of time. Virtual Events provide audiences with multiple engaging & interactive sessions over a longer period of time, as compared to webinars.
Unlike webinars, which usually serve just a single purpose, virtual events are used to fulfill a wide range of purposes.
They can be used for virtual expos, product launches, exhibitions, conferences, trade shows, job fairs, housing fairs, educational fairs, get-togethers, & more.
Every Virtual Event is also different from the others. They each have their own identity, unique aspects, & specific components.
Event organizers usually pick specific components for each virtual event depending on the exact kind of virtual event they’re hosting, as well as the industry it concerns.
Engagement is also an important aspect of deciding which components will go in a virtual event, & which ones won’t cut it.
Now that we have the definitions all sorted, it’s time to dive into the exact differences between virtual events & webinars.
Webinars are Not Exactly Events!
Webinars are virtual events in the sense that they encompass the online element of virtual events.
They also consist of audience interaction & engagement features like live chats, polling, quizzes, Q&A sessions, etc.
However, when talking in the strict sense of the word, they are not wholesome virtual events.
They don’t provide attendees with an entire virtual ecosystem that virtual events are known for.
Neither are they able to envelop attendees in immersive, realistic virtual experiences, something that people have begun to associate with virtual events.
Webinars also don’t consist of extensive attendee experience components like dynamic lobbies, multiple stage/session setups, auditoriums, dedicated networking lounges, & an overall enhanced venue experience.
Another possible difference is that while webinars can be included in a virtual event as a session or a specific show flow. Webinars don’t involve virtual events as a part of their session schedule.
From the above, it can be easily said that while webinars can form a small part of a virtual event’s show flow. The reverse is not true.
Webinars Lack a Broad Event Scope
Webinars as the online version of a seminar, usually lack the broad scopes that people often associate with virtual events.
Since they often cater to a particular audience & industry, their reach is also quite limited as compared to virtual events.
They often also cover just a singular variety of topic(s) that are relevant to their specific niche of audience.
Webinars are also devoid of virtual event components of
Thus, webinars can be said to have a narrower scope than that of a traditional virtual event.
Also, webinars lack extracurricular audience engagement features like virtual booths, dynamic lobbies, gamification options, etc.
This makes webinars much less exciting & engaging than Virtual Events.
However, since they cater to a specific niche of audiences, & also impart useful information to them. Webinars triumph Virtual Event in the number & quality of leads generated.
Webinar leads are often the most useful & close-to-conversion leads extracted by event marketers.
Virtual Event leads, on the other hand, are more scattered & generic. They also don’t turn out to be extremely yielding to the customer conversion funnel, unless proven otherwise.
Webinars don’t tell your Entire Brand Story
Unlike Virtual Events, webinars are not equipped with the technical arsenal to tell your entire brand story to your audience.
They usually are only able to portray a singular aspect of the industry you’re in. Attracting only a very specific audience niche.
Webinars don’t consist of the outstanding design elements that are used to portray the intricacies & the ins and outs of your brand message.
For this reason, most brands only use webinars to engage a specific audience with a very particular kind of topic suiting their interests.
Other uses for webinars are to open the forum to meaningful, reformative discussions. The specific audience community they’ve managed to attract.
This helps them keep the engagement going in between virtual event sessions. Or to give their customers something to chew on for the next couple of days/weeks/months.
With the differences between webinars & virtual event clear to you. You should now be able to decide which kind of virtual events are best for your brand.