The pandemic has been tough on everyone, but many businesses refuse to back down, even in these challenging times.
Perhaps you’ve spent most of your life working in an industry that now feels defunct, or that is still struggling to recover, and you’re looking to transfer your skills to a virtual business.
Perhaps you want to take advantage of work-from-home trends and become your boss for the time.
Or maybe, like many events or event-based companies, you need to find a new way of doing business.
We’ve put together our favorite virtual business ideas with real-world examples to give you some ideas and inspire you to keep the dream alive.
We all have a little bit of cabin fever after the last year and a half, but many of our favorite holiday destinations are still locked down or restricted. Understandably, the travel industry has been badly affected by the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped innovative companies from thriving.
Why Virtual Tourism is a Good Idea
If you’ve worked in the tourism industry, you not only know how to find the best vacation spots, but you have a database of clients that love to travel, and you are great at organizing.
Demand for armchair travel will probably never be this high again, but there will always be a market. Travelers want to see what they will get before they travel, and educational bodies love to take their students on a virtual field trip.
What are Virtual Tours?
There is no brief definition for a virtual tour, but virtual travel tries to bring a travel experience online by offering insight into a place without actually being there.
A virtual tour could include:
A walking tour that is narrated to a live group online, either pre-recorded or live.
A presentation using still images, video footage and interactive elements like quizzes and chat.
A practical tutorial (e.g. a virtual tour of Paris with a practical session teaching attendees how to make macarons).
Clients for Virtual Tours
Companies that offer virtual tours target individuals but primarily focus on private groups, e.g. school tours, end-of-year virtual functions, or date nights. Private tour groups are charged more than open-ended groups, and a minimum booking is required.
AirBnb was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, so they launched AirBNB experiences. This allows local hosts to take customers on a virtual or a physical tour of their city. You can view London through the eyes of a Harry Potter fanatic, or travel through Prague with a plague doctor from the Middle Ages, or make paella with a pair of Spanish aunties.
What Do I Need to Start a Virtual Tour Company?
You can start a Virtual Tour company with very little investment. You’ll need a professional video conferencing setup, some multi-media materials (slides, video) and a few tour guides that can entertain and inform guests about the city or activity they’ll tour.
Being a local to the city you are giving the tour of is a bonus because it adds credibility, but it’s not a deal-breaker if you aren’t based in a dream travel destination.
Who knows, if the tour becomes a hit, you can always move it offline when the borders open up!
Virtual Summer Camp
Kids can't receive vaccinations yet, and many parents are keeping their children home during the holidays. Keep kids safe (and entertained) during this period is a challenge, which is why many parents are looking for virtual summer camps.
In addition to teaching kids essential values and skills, the virtual camp also gives children the opportunity to mix with a diverse group worldwide.
Why is Virtual Summer Camp a Good Idea?
Kids are stuck at home, and parents are looking for ways to keep them entertained (and socializing). If you have some tutoring or entertainment skills, you could quickly start a virtual summer camp.
What is Virtual Camp?
Virtual summer camps are similar to traditional camps but have moved online. Kids are entertained by counsellors, puppet shows, virtual petting zoos, or taught skills like math and astronomy.
They can also split into virtual breakout rooms for group activities.
Clients for Virtual Camps
Clients will vary depending on what’s on offer, usually per age group. It’s good to cater for different ages so that families with siblings in other age groups can subscribe.
You can target pandemic home-schoolers and partner with schools that want to offer a summer program as well.
You don’t have to run a daily, ten-hour program – a few hours that kids can tap into will be helpful.
Camp Wonderopolis offers a STEAM-based program that focuses on fun scientific and artistic activities for curious minds. Camp Super now offers live, interactive shows and fitness, theatre, art, music, and STEM classes. They run their camp on a monthly subscription basis, making it a perfect addition to home-schooling.
Happy Camper encourages kids to stock up on camp gear to give them the actual camp experience, and they have a virtual campfire!
What Do I Need to Start a Virtual Summer Camp?
In addition to fast Internet speeds, video conferencing capabilities and ticketing are recommended to keep track of kids and classes.
It would be best to try to get a few “counsellors” together to attend various classes and activities and keep it interesting. You could visit a local petting zoo or shelter, film some animals' footage, host a puppet show, or teach simple crafting skills.
Just be sure to let parents know what to purchase or sell craft kits on your website for home delivery.
You can sell tickets to specific classes or operate on a daily or monthly subscription basis.
Try to find a niche – Space Camp, Magic Camp, or Fitness Camp. It will make it a little easier to market.
Many festivals and concerts were cancelled last year, forcing musicians to experiment with digital-friendly live experiences. The surprising discovery that many musicians made was that there was a significant appetite for digital concerts.
Why Are Virtual Concerts a Great Idea?
A virtual concert will never have the same energy as a live concert, so it's essential to make sure that your experience is unique and fun in its way. Many fans will be happy to pay for a virtual concert if they can hear new songs, or listen to an acoustic album of a well-known brand, especially if their concert tickets fetch high prices typically.
Because the event is virtual, fans will have a more significant opportunity to interact with the musicians by leaving comments or making requests.
What is a Virtual Concert?
A virtual concert is typically a live stream of a musical performance by a band or singer. Fans buy tickets like a typical show, but they would make it slightly more interactive. Fans can make requests for songs, or give virtual tips in exchange for shout-outs or show their appreciation, and buy merchandise.
Clients for Virtual Concerts
Virtual concerts have to be promoted to fans and potential fans. Many conventional ticketing platforms and music streaming platforms will also sell and advance tickets, but they are costly. It’s best to work with the artists to drum up support from existing fans and tap into your network.
In the beginning of summer 2021, PandaMR with in association with Alteration organized the world's first hybrid underground music festival, both in real and virtual venues.
During the two weeks of the fest, artists and producers representing a wide range of genres performed in the hybrid venue. One of the artists was Ricardo Villalobos, a true techno old-schooler.
Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) held a concert for his fans called a Very Lonely Solstice Livestream. He played a stripped-down version of his songs from the band's new album.
He recorded the concert inside St.Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, which provided a beautiful setting for the show.
What Do I Need to Start a Virtual Concert?
A roster of talented artists, good sound equipment and a platform for smooth interactions is a must! Livestreaming can be tricky, so it’s best to work with a professional company that can help set it up for you.
You can sell tickets to the event, create virtual tip jars, sell merchandise through links and even host back-stage one-on-one sessions with your musicians to generate additional revenue.
Whether you are a professional teacher or a highly skilled professional that can teach others how to succeed as consultants, show others how to do cross-fit, or simply have a great life story, knowledge and philosophy to share, you can start a virtual business.
What is Virtual Teaching?
Virtual teaching is any lesson or lecture taught remotely. Examples can include:
Online Fitness Classes
Online Lectures specific to industries or disciplines
One on one tutoring for high school or college students
Skills Transfers (e.g. learning how to code or crochet or paint)
Lessons can be held one-on-one, or at scale with multiple students, or during private corporate events.
Why is Virtual Teaching a Great Idea?
Even in pre-COVID days, people were looking for lessons online. YouTube How-To videos have incredibly high engagement. Masterclass and Coursera have record enrollments.
More students want to access learning designed to suit them, and there is never an easier time to learn. Older students with full-time employment are particularly keen to learn online at their own pace.
Clients for Virtual Teaching
Generally, your client base will depend on the skill you are teaching and whether or not they will receive a qualification at the end of the event.
If you are an enthusiastic crocheter, you can find clients on social media groups or by leaving a flyer at a craft store, but you may want to promote your event online if you are a well-known SEO expert.
Companies like Livelingua help pair up native speakers with others that want to learn a specific language, while private tutors exist everywhere for virtually every skill and career. Many companies have also held live-streamed conferences and events with various speakers during the pandemic. (It’s one of our specialities at PandaMR). You can share your knowledge and build a virtual brand.
What Do I Need to Start Virtual Teaching?
All you need are some skills and a tech platform! But it's important to state that you cannot offer certification if your course isn’t registered, audited and recognized by the right industry body.
If you are tutoring college students in a subject, you should have some experience in the course you are teaching, but you don’t need to be a teacher.
Suppose you are teaching English to foreign language students that are assimilating into a new culture and country. In that case, you may need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. Still, if you target students who want a conversational partner to practice with, you don’t need any qualifications, just knowledge.
Virtually anyone can start a virtual business with minimal start-up cost and investment. Start by determining which skills you have that others might be interested in learning - and would be willing to pay for.
A few other ideas we’ve spotted online:
Virtual Assistant Services: Offering to help small businesses or business people get organized.
Selling Art Online: Starting a Virtual Gallery with pieces curated from artists all around the world. Even extensive art galleries like the Louvre are offering online tours!
Counselling and Life Coaching: Advising others about a range of topics.
Whatever you do, you can get started right away. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of virtual businesses, and we’re getting used to doing more online. Why not take advantage of the trend yourself?
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