Adding virtual exhibitions to your events calendar can improve attendance and interest in other events you hold. Not to mention online accessibility extending your reach beyond local guests. We’ve compiled tips for hosting your event and insider knowledge from creator and artist Gayle Kirschenbaum, who uses Eventbrite to exhibit her photography.
4 Great Reasons to Host a Virtual Exhibition
It may be challenging to replicate the excitement of an in-person event. However, online exhibitions still attract plenty of interest – from individuals who live far away, aren’t physically able to attend, or lack transportation.
Hosting a virtual exhibition means the creative design options for exhibitors are endless. There’s a lot you can do online that you can’t in person. Think directly targeted audio-visual elements, breakout rooms for discussing specific exhibition pieces, and links to future events and supplementary information.
Perk #1: There’s the potential for more attendees
Consider an online exhibition a great solution to maximising your attendance list. An in-person exhibition caters primarily to local attendees, whereas virtual exhibitions can court audiences worldwide. This can also set you up for in-person success if you hope to take your show on the road.
Perk #2: You can tell your story
Learning how to create a virtual exhibition empowers exhibitors to best tell their own stories. Using all the creative design elements at their disposal, they can choose pieces that best express their intent and give audiences exactly what they want.
Perk #3: It can reduce your costs
An excellent way to cut costs on art events is to create a virtual art exhibition with far-reaching appeal. Going online means no catering, security services, or venue rental fees – so a higher budget for providing a more immersive and higher-quality experience. If you’re not shelling out for hors d’œuvres and cocktails, invest in higher-quality videography and editing services.
Perk #4: It can reduce your environmental impact
Going virtual can help you go green. Hosting an online exhibition allows exhibitors to reduce environmental impact by cutting down on waste from food and beverage provisions, paper leaftlets, and more. Cutting down on waste is an attractive prospect for attendees advocating for sustainability.
How creator Gayle Kirschenbaum is using virtual technology to successfully run her New York exhibitions
If you want a great example of how to create a virtual exhibition, look no further than Gayle Kirschenbaum’s live virtual walkthroughs of breathtaking photography exhibits. Kirschenbaum, previously used to showing her photos off in person, quickly adapted to hosting an online exhibition.
She originally began offering virtual options for her photography exhibits during lockdown in 2020. During an era of isolation and uncertainty, she discovered what she describes as a “silver lining”. Thanks to the wonders of technology, she was suddenly able to reach audiences from all over the world.
“My viewer/audience has grown,” Kirschenbaum tells us. “As I record this on Zoom, I then edit and upload to my website where people can watch it. Since then I have [been] putting my all my exhibits online, even if they have an actual physical exhibit. People love the up-close and personal virtual walkthrough learning about my photographs. Why, where, and how I shot them.”
She keeps audience engagement up by offering Q&A sessions after her presentations. To add to the fun experience, she invites her online guests to create their very own cocktail hour: “As this is a photo exhibit, and I schedule EST when galleries have their openings and it is cocktail hour, I tell people to bring a glass of their favourite beverage.”
Afterwards, she provides virtual guests with opportunities to sign up for other upcoming photography exhibits, and special workshops. Her friendly follow-up routine, which offers relevant information to new signups, quickly creates an ongoing cycle of interest in her work and her events.
Using Eventbrite as her virtual exhibition platform has streamlined the event planning process for Kirschenbaum. According to Kirschenbaum, she’s been using Eventbrite for years to sell her events for this very reason. “All the features are quite helpful,” says Kirschenbaum. “I can set up promo codes and various pricings, marketing tools, and so on.”
Kirschenbaum is confident that her fellow exhibitors can easily replicate the success of her virtual exhibitions. “It is really easy to do,” she explains, “and people are looking to learn and connect, so if you have a skill, or knowledge in something, you can create an event and sell it.”
Steps to host a virtual exhibition
How can you create a successful virtual exhibition that attracts and engages a great audience? Here are six key steps to ensure your online exhibition is a hit.
1. Plan early
Start planning well in advance. You’ll need the extra time to define your exhibition and clarify how you’ll market it to prospective attendees.
For example, if you’re hoping to attract a more youthful crowd, start thinking about popular social media platforms where you can post about your event.
2. Set your budget
You can stretch your dollars if you have a clear picture of your finances and market cost-effectively. A virtual exhibition may allow for increased expenditures elsewhere, thanks to your savings on typical event expenses. For instance, reroute the money you would have spent on catering, security, and venue space to high-quality videography, editing, and ad campaigns. (Spend your budget wisely by using Eventbrite Boost to run your ads easily across platforms.) Investing in a high-quality experience for your guests will pay dividends for future events and brand reputation.
3. Consider sponsors
Increase cash flow by attracting sponsors. Finding sponsors willing to pay for a portion of your event costs in exchange for exposure can also enhance your event’s prestige.
4. Decide on your platform
Choosing the right platform for your online exhibition should not be overlooked. Consider the following:
- How many guests will be attending? Some platforms place a cap on participants.
- Is this event an exclusive exhibition? If so, choose a platform that provides safeguarding to prevent interlopers from virtually crashing the event. These security measures might include password protection and identity verification services.
- If guest interaction is crucial, choose a virtual platform that facilitates chat options.
- A platform that lets you create breakout rooms for a more formalised venue for guest interaction. This can foster more intimate discussion on specific exhibition pieces between interested attendees.
- If artwork and other exhibition pieces need uploading for viewing, choose a platform with this software capability.
- Ensure attendees don’t miss out on critical information regarding exhibition pieces – select a platform that includes an easy system for setting up links and other information maps.
5. Understand your audience
To host a successful virtual exhibition, the exhibitor must be aware of the needs and expectations of their guests. Before planning your event, clarify which demographics you hope to attract. This should inform your marketing strategy and the overall exhibition experience.
6. Promote your event
There are plenty of great ways to get the word out about your upcoming virtual exhibition. While there’s something to be said for a more traditional ad campaign, try posting on social media, cold emailing, and encouraging sponsors to join in your advertisement efforts – your success is their success!
After your exhibition
After the exhibition, maintain warm connections with attendees and sponsors. Keeping these relationships alive will serve you at your next in-person or virtual exhibition. Remember to delve into attendee data, metrics, and feedback post-event too.
Use your data
Attendee data is a goldmine of helpful information for what worked and what didn’t. Analyse available data on who attended, what they did, what they saw, who they interacted with, and how many others they shared your event with. Leverage your findings to determine which demographics you successfully enticed and which need more attention.
Send out a survey
In need of more attendee data? Asking for feedback via surveys helps identify pain points in your online exhibition. Direct feedback from voluntary survey participants often tells a more detailed story than attendee data alone can. Discover how to make post-event survey creation and distribution effortless with Eventbrite.
Get planning for your next virtual exhibition
At this point, you’ll have a stronger understanding of what it takes to plan a successful virtual exhibition and will be ready to get started! If you’re still looking for more resources, Eventbrite has you covered. Explore what our platform can offer exhibitors just like you.