Optimizing Your Calendar For Online Events

By now you’ve probably made a decision about whether to cancel your event, postpone it, or host it online in response to COVID-19. For those of you moving toward online or virtual events, there are some things you can do with your calendar to make the most of streaming online. In fact, we’ve received a good number of questions from people asking how well The Events Calendar supports virtual events.

The answer? It does a very good job of it. Let’s go over how to optimize your calendar for online events.

Start with a virtual venue

One of the first things you can do is create a venue for all of your virtual events. Wait, doesn’t a venue require an address? Why yes, it does.

But maybe not the type of address you think. Instead of a physical address, let’s think of a virtual venue as a place where all online events happen. The easiest way to do that? Simply leave the address fields empty in The Events Calendar venue editor.

Showing a blank venue address form below the venue description.

Now, when creating a new event, we can choose the “Online Events” venue and see all upcoming virtual events in a single place.

Showing a venue page with online event listings.

Note that you’ll need Events Calendar Pro to create venue pages like this. If you’re running The Events Calendar by itself, you’ll still have the option to create a virtual venue, just without the page.

Create an online events category

Adding a new event category called “Online Events” (or whatever you’d like) is a great way to connect all of your events that are hosted online.

Showing the add new category screen with a new category for online events.

Is this step redundant after you’ve created a virtual venue? Perhaps. But adding a new category gives you the benefit of showing related online events on event pages. Another benefit: It creates a landing page for all events with the Online Events category — yet another way to view all online events in one place!

Add the new category to the main menu

If online events are part of your strategy, then you’ll want to make them accessible. Adding a link to them in the main menu of a site is a great way to do that.

Since we created a category for these events in the step above, we can easily add a link to the category page in any WordPress menu.

 

Check out virtual event calendar extensions

We have a couple of other free extensions that help your calendar adapt to online events.

For example, what do you call online events? Webinars? Virtual events? Plain ol’ Online Events? Whatever you choose, it’s possible to use a custom name for events throughout the calendar using this extension. This helps avoid any confusion over whether your event is happening physically or virtually. The extension lets you rename venues and organizers, too. That means you could use “Video Channels” instead of “Venues” and “Hosts” instead of “Organizers.” Or whatever you’d like, of course.

You may also want to look into this extension if you’re using RSVP or tickets on an event. It lets you share the link for an online event only to people who have registered. So, whenever someone completes registration, they get an email confirmation with a link to the event. This mean you don’t have to share the link publicly, which is important if you’re selling tickets for an event. Please note that you will want to have Events Calendar Pro and Event Tickets installed with The Events Calendar for this one to work.

One more extension: show all events that are currently taking place. This comes in handy if you’re running multiple online events at overlapping times. It’s also a convenient way for attendees to find their event if they are arriving late.

Stream video from the event page

Assuming your online event is open to the public, one idea is to embed a live video directly on the event page. WordPress makes this very easy with the Custom HTML block

Showing the event editor with the block menu open and focused on the Custom HTML block.

Drop that into the event page, then copy and paste the iFrame snippet from the service you’re using to stream the event.

Showing a video snippet pasted into the Custom HTML block in the event editor.

…aaaaaand boom! The video will display on the event page:

Showing a YouTube live video embedded on an event page.

Go forth and host great events!

Hopefully these tips are useful as you make the move from physical to virtual events. We know that the transition isn’t easy — especially when it comes abruptly — but The Events Calendar is here to help make make things better in the process.