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3 Tips for hosting virtual events

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Community events are an essential part of the member experience at Common. Before COVID-19, they served a variety of purposes: they gave us the opportunity to support and introduce our members to local businesses, helped new members meet each other, and created a sense of community for those in a new home and city. Now, in a time where our social interactions are severely limited, they’re more important than ever.

Over the past month, we’ve turned our community programming entirely digital, hosting at least one virtual event a day. We’ve continued to partner with local businesses to share their expertise and show them support, while also exploring some more off the cuff ideas, like an 80’s themed Jane Fonda workout. Here are a few highlights of events we’ve hosted over the past month:

  • Floral Watercolors
  • Guided Meditation
  • Whiskey Tasting
  • Virtual yoga
  • DYBRKR virtual rave
  • Dumplings from scratch
  • What our members have to say

    “It was fun, a nice escape in a troubled time.. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to next week” – Zoe, Washington D.C.

    “Great sense of comfort being able to still keep our routine Monday yoga class during this time of uncertainty!!” -Ashley, NYC

    “I appreciate your arranging all these virtual events for us! Stay safe and healthy!” – Ayame, NYC

    Common’s Connect by App

    One of the reasons we’ve been able to successfully pivot to virtual events is that technology was already interwoven into the Common experience. Since launching over a year ago, our Connect by App has allowed members to meet, chat, and RSVP to events around their city. When we surveyed our members at the beginning of 2020, 80% of them said they use the app regularly, and 65% of members had attended a community event. This technology based process hasn’t changed — members still RSVP to events through the app, and receive an email from us beforehand with everything they need to know.

    Tips for hosting a virtual event

    If you’re interested in hosting a virtual event, whether it’s for your company, community, or just a group of friends, there are a few things to consider. Keep reading for our best tips on hosting a virtual event.

    1. Create a shared experience

    You might not be able to gather physically in the same space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a shared experience. If you’re hosting a happy hour, consider sending out a few cocktail recipes to guests beforehand. Or if you’re hosting a craft night, and have the resources, you could put together and mail out the necessary supplies to each guest. You could even create a curated playlist, or ask everyone to follow a fun dress code.

    2. Embrace the benefits

    Virtual events open up a whole new array of possibilities for connecting and building community. While certain workshops or exercise classes were once dependent on being onsite, those same classes can now be accessed by thousands of people around the world. Be careful though — the size of your class does matter, depending on the subject matter and group. At Common, we limit our events to 5-15 people, so members can still meet and chat easily. Depending on your goal for the class, or the event itself, you might want to consider placing a cap on RSVPS or opening up attendance to a broader network.

    3. Understand your audience

    We’ve discovered that while our members enjoy our virtual events, they have a wide range of preferences for how much they want to engage. For example, some members are super excited to get their hands dirty with a group activity, while some just want to sit back, listen, and learn something new. This is especially helpful to consider if you’re hosting a virtual event for a larger community. You could even poll your audience before planning your events, or try to offer a variety that will suit as many needs as possible.

    For more information on how Common is building community during COVID-19, read our interview with Georgia Flaum, Director of Member Experience at Common. And to learn more about how we’re leveraging technology, check out our blog post on virtual tours.

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