If there is any positive trend the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the events industry, it is the adoption of virtual event platforms as a viable alternative to in-person events.
This adoption has helped many event organizers to prevent event cancellation, thereby minimizing their revenue loss. They have also been able to retain and engage their audiences through the use of virtual platforms.
But in a pandemic-free world, are there particular benefits that hosting a virtual or hybrid event (a blend of live and virtual) can bring to a business?
Opportunity to Expand Audience Base
Hybrid and virtual events open up event attendance to qualified audiences from any part of the globe. By hosting a virtual event or adding a virtual component to your in-person event, you will eliminate the hassles of travel distance, time, and money that often prevent many interested participants from attending events. You will also be able to capture those who would rather prefer to join your event from the comfort of their homes rather than attending in-person.
More People Can Be Encouraged to Attend Live: There are some prospects who can afford to travel to attend your event live but are reluctant to make the financial commitment. When you make your event hybrid, you can capture this category of people and give them a taste of your compelling content. When they see what you’ve got to offer, they might be willing to attend your next event in-person. By giving them that opportunity to join virtually, you have won them over and retain them as your audience.
Significant Reduction in Costs
One of the main benefits of hosting virtual or hybrid events is a significant reduction in cost and event logistics. For a virtual event, your overhead cost could be reduced to about 25%. This is because many event logistics such as venue, staff, travel, accommodation, and meals will have been eliminated or reduced drastically. This increases event ROI and gives you higher profitability on your event.
Ease of Collaboration and Community Building
Virtual or hybrid events offer more opportunities for collaboration and community-building than in-person events can offer. Event organizers can use virtual platforms to gather information and foster community before, during, and after an event.
Pre-Event: You can use your virtual event platform as an opinion sampling center to gather feedback and opinions from past event attendees about event topics and focus areas for future events. You can also poll the community on speakers they would prefer to listen to. The platform can also be used as an information center to place announcements, notify your audience of changes, or upload materials for download.
During Event: The platform can be used for networking during your event. Virtual platforms offer multiple networking opportunities with live chats, 1:1 video meetings, Q&A, gaming, and other networking and collaborative activities that can be initiated using a mobile event app.
Immersive Learning Experience
Incorporating a digital learning experience into your event can give both in-person and online attendees greater value and a more robust learning experience.
By infusing the possibilities available on your virtual event platform and a collection of compelling content, you will enhance the attendees’ learning experience and engagement. Some of your onsite attendees might also gain a double advantage by using the virtual platform to consume more content.
Sometimes, conflicting schedules during an event can make attendees miss out on an important session but if there is a virtual platform, they can tune in or listen to the session later.
Extension of Event Content Life Cycle
Content from event sessions can be stored on the platform, giving your audiences the opportunity to playback and enjoy the sessions over and over again. Speakers can also use virtual platforms to push additional content out during or after the event.
It is also possible to create an information library for attendees to access slides, notes, and other event-related content. You can also add features such as quizzes, mini-courses, and paid content to continue to drive engagement on the platform. With that, your content can last year-round rather than ending with your live event.
Data-Driven Lead Tracking and Capturing
Adding a virtual component to your live event or hosting an all-virtual event can give you the opportunity to track, capture and make the most of attendee data in ways that would be difficult to achieve with live-only events. Virtual platforms offer deep data analytics that you can use to determine user interests and behavior during your events. These data can be captured at different points of your event. You can track login, chats, connections, views, shares, clicks, etc.
By monitoring user activity on your virtual platform, sponsors and partners can acquire qualified leads and prospect attendees in real-time. Virtual platforms also have machine learning algorithms that can suggest leads to sponsors based on user activity. This makes lead capturing much easier. Sponsors and partners will get real value for their investment as they will be able to access their target audience directly.
Extended Opportunity for Driving ROI
With virtual platforms, you can make your content available on-demand and even pre-record or create additional content to continue to drive ROI and make more money from your event.
There’s also an opportunity for topic expansion. If you notice that some sessions resonated more with attendees and there seemed to be a craving for more, you can collaborate with the speakers to expand the topic and produce more content in that area without having to wait for another event. All that you’ll have to do is record the new sessions with your facilitators and post them on the platform for a fee.
You can keep providing additional content to sustain the enthusiasm of your audiences, thereby turning attendees into customers.
Convenience and Flexibility
When you host a hybrid event, you are providing your prospective attendees with multiple options to choose from. They choose whether to attend the event in-person, in the comfort of their home, in their office, or while on another journey. This flexibility makes it possible to get a lot of people to participate in your event.
The flexibility will also reduce the incidence of attendee cancellation. Instead of canceling, they can downgrade to virtual-only. With that arrangement, you might still retain them instead of losing them outright.
Opportunity for Smaller Companies to Make Huge Impact
Companies with smaller marketing budgets can produce quality and engaging events and reach a larger audience with a limited budget when they host virtual events. They can also get speakers and facilitators from anywhere around the globe to feature in their event without having to spend more on travel costs and accommodation.
Significant Reduction In Carbon Footprint
If your organization is concerned about carbon emission, one of the ways to cut down on carbon is by reducing the amount of travel. Virtual events are eco-friendly events, so thousands of people can attend a global event without having to travel any distance.
So the next time you consider how to organize an eco-friendly event, think about hosting a virtual event or a hybrid event where you can get more people to participate without adding to the carbon footprint.