Virtual Events Aren’t Dead
Jaime Theresa Smith, CMP
National Account Manager
When the world shut down, virtual events became our bread and butter. Event planners traded their cherished in-person events for the only other option. Together, we learned a lot about pivoting to give people the opportunity to meet. We’re well into 2022, and finally, virtual events are a thing of the past… Or are they?
In-person events are (knock on wood) back in full swing. Some events are ditching virtual all together and, at the very least, virtual is an afterthought. We’re here to remind you that there’s still room for virtual events in this post-pandemic world.
The Benefits of Virtual EVENTS
Whether you’re interested in holding an event that’s strictly virtual, or a live event with a virtual component (hybrid event), the benefits of creating a virtual experience are still relevant, even in 2022.
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s vastly easier to attend a virtual event than an in-person event. In the best case scenario for a strictly in-person event, attendees still have to get up, put on the appropriate attire, and travel to the event space. Even at its easiest, attending an in-person event requires more effort than logging into an event from the comfort of your home or office.
In our experience, the “easy to attend, in-person event” is rarely the case. We produce meetings for companies that have offices globally, which leaves attendance contingent upon flights, hotel stays, scheduling and cost (we’ll get to that last point soon).
When attending your event is easier, your opportunity to reach more people drastically improves.
The cost of an event is one of the first things to consider. What’s your budget? Is there plenty of room in that budget to book a large enough event space, the AV needs for said space, hotel stays for the people involved, catering, seating, tables, etc?
We’ve done our fair share of national sales meetings virtually. In one case, we turned an office break room into a full streaming studio, with lighting, staging, cameras and green screens. Not only was the cost of this event cheaper than it would have been if we produced it as an in-person event, it was also a lot easier for the company to hit record attendance.
Needless to say, If you’re creating a hybrid experience, the cost of the virtual component would be tacked onto the cost of the in-person event, thus, leading to an overall more expensive event. However, you’re still left with the benefit of extended reach, and the ability to collect data on your attendees.
A great perk of going virtual is the ability to collect various data about your participants in a digital setting. This data is richer than you would likely collect at in-person events due to the robust nature of the online components involved.
After the event, you’re able to use your data set to deliver hyper-specific insights to your sponsors and provide hard evidence of the return on their investment. Thanks to the data virtual events afford, you’ll have no problem quantifying key metrics like number of attendees, dwell time, and engagement. This data can lay the foundation for future sponsorships, both live and virtual.
Don’t Make Virtual an Afterthought
The most important part of planning a virtual event is just that… planning – don’t make it an afterthought. Whether you’re doing strictly virtual or a hybrid event, it’s important to communicate with your AV partner early and often. Ask yourself the right questions:
- What do you want your attendees to learn?
- How do you want your attendees to engage?
- What is your content and how is it best to disseminate it?
- What is YOUR ROI for doing this event?
- What are the financial objectives and how are you considering the customer — exhibitors and sponsors, attendees, speakers — and all their unique needs?