Zoom meetings, remote teams, and virtual events which all started as a temporary fix, have turned into an absolute necessity over the last year. Unexpectedly, this prolonged absence of in-person events has turned out to be an amazing opportunity for brands and companies to creatively engage with audiences through alternate means. Meeting virtually has been a fantastic alternative with a myriad of benefits. The bottom line being that when a face-to-face conference is not possible, hosting a virtual conference delivers an engaging experience in a widely accessible environment. While the world has been seemingly standing still, the meeting & conference industry has continued to trudge forward by offering opportunities for learning, knowledge sharing, and networking, where in-person was not an option. And while many have been eagerly awaiting a return to pre-covid days of travel, hotel, airports, and banquets, there are just as many that believe that virtual events are here to stay, pandemic or not.
Here are our top 5 reasons why virtual is here to stay:
1. Cost-Efficient & Increased ROI
Hands down the number #1 benefit of the virtual event is removing major line items from your budget such as venue, catering, travel, & accommodation costs. While these may also be key reasons folks love to attend in-person events, in the age of suppressed budgets, this has been quite the life raft. Compile that with the fact that a virtual event provides opportunities for many more attendees and you have a recipe for success. By drawing in more people to your event, and lowering costs that simply means the potential for higher ROI on every event. Not to mention that curated digital engagement opportunities have been shown to create extended measurable value for sponsors that lives beyond being seen on the showroom floor for 1 or 2 days.
2. Increased Speaker Quality & Accessibility
According to a poll conducted by Bizzabo, just under half (39.5%) of event organizers found it easier to find great speakers for virtual events. Organizers are also finding that speaker fees are less than ever because they no longer have to include travel and lodging. What does this mean for you? It means you can aim higher than ever in the caliber of your presenters. For the first time ever you may have access to them. Not to mention the fact that the more professional the speaker the more likely they are to have a large online following to which you now have access to market your event to.
3. No Limitations on Attendance due to Capacities
Virtual events are not bound by the physical limits of a traditional venue. Globally, the virtual events industry was worth nearly $78 billion in 2019 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027. Not only is the virtual model set up to welcome attendees from outside of any one physical region, but it also allows for a framework that is easily scalable. Organizations are no longer limited by how many tables they can sell at an event but are now able to be measured against how far their marketing reach can extend, which for many is much further. Virtual events were already becoming popular before the pandemic, which is a sign that we’re not looking at a temporary phenomenon.
4. Flexibility and Convenience
With so many unknowns coupled with constant adjustments in local pandemic mandates, gathering restrictions and safety measures, virtual conferences offer the ability for an organization to plan an event and move forward with confidence. Not only does this eliminate the stress of understanding a venue’s cancellation or force majeure clause, but instead provides flexibility to adjust as needed up to the week of event. As an added perk, virtual events also have a tendency to be a much more flexible option for attendees. Virtual conference days are recommended to be shorter than a traditional conference with a reduced number of live sessions, and often offer attendees the option to access pre-recorded content at their own pace. In the end, this allows attendees to more easily balance commitments such as work, study or child care, and ends up being less of a ‘task’ or ‘burden’, but instead becomes valuable content is at their fingertips on demand.
Many virtual conference platforms offer sophisticated data collection and reporting, and can easily track the number of attendees in each session, track leads for sponsors and show who engaged with what content and for how long – often in real-time. This massive data gathering and analytics potential is invaluable for events with goals of lead generation, sales prospecting, marketing messaging, brand awareness, sponsorship sales, and so much more. Once online, you can easily track attendees through their virtual experience, giving you some powerful data that will help you to further the success of future events. As an example, you may see that 10 minutes after a presentation began many left to go to another breakout room. That may drive content or speaker decisions in the future.
While many would say that this last point should really be the #1 reason to go virtual, we leave it for last as the ‘gravy’ for when all the other 4 boxes are checked and the event happens successfully. Yet with this formula, our Toast of the Town event planners are able to produce a quality experience, and dynamic results time and time again for all of our clients. Contact us for more info on how we can create these 5 success metrics for your next virtual conference.