7 Benefits of Hosting a Virtual Conference or Event
B2B conferences contribute more than $1.5 trillion to the worldwide economy each year. The Coronavirus pandemic is leaving many companies with huge event marketing budgets. This means the economic impact of reduced company events may be enormous. One way for your company to reduce this impact is to host a virtual conference.
The actual cost of COVID-19 on the B2B event industry won’t be fully understood for some time, but data shows that, as of mid-March, losses exceed $1 billion in major tech conference cancellations alone. At the beginning of February, the Mobile World Congress was the first big event cancellation within the tech industry. Since then, events such as Facebook F8, Google I/O, SXSW, and others have followed suit, either by canceling, postponing, or moving their events online.
We can expect these cancellations to continue as the virus continues to spread. And companies and their consumers will have to bear the brunt of these event-related losses. While many brands are reallocating their budgets into other digital marketing strategies, some innovative companies are choosing to host their events entirely online.
Just because you can’t continue to host in-person events doesn’t mean the flow of knowledge has to stop. The rise of virtual conferences means you can still host your event featuring thought leadership content.
Keep reading to discover the benefits of hosting a virtual conference and providing licensed video from powerful thought leaders and engaging sessions tailored to your attendees.
Why Host a Virtual Conference?
Hosting virtual conferences may not be able to replace your in-person events entirely, but they do offer some unique advantages.
When planning a virtual event, you should immediately consider high-quality video content to provide an engaging and accessible digital experience for all. Bonus: you won’t need to worry about the logistical hassles that come with an in-person event.
With new technologies available, it’s possible to organize and broadcast content to millions of viewers, a reach that far exceeds even the largest in-person event.
By hosting a virtual conference, you’ll have the ability to foster engagement, inform stakeholders, gather valuable data, tailor your content to your audience, and more—all while saving time and money.
1. Save Money
Many organizations are transitioning to virtual conferences purely for cost savings reasons alone.
Selecting and renting a venue can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Supplying catering to your attendees and support staff is extremely expensive (and a logistical nightmare). The cost of printed materials (badges, signs, banners, and other branded materials) can really eat into your budget.
Add the cost of administrative and support staff, marketing, and other creative costs and suddenly you’re over budget. Not to mention the weight borne by attendees—between travel and hotel costs, and time away from family and work.
Yes, a virtual event requires investment in software and training. However, when compared to the high costs associated with live, in-person events, the trade-off is worth it. Especially if you can forget worrying about securing a venue, catering options, and accommodations.
56% of CFOs worldwide plan to invest in video conferencing to reduce costs associated with travel. These cost savings can be passed on to your attendees, increasing engagement and accessibility.
2. Be More Socially Responsible
Consider the environmental waste created by in-person events. The typical conference attendee produces approximately 4lbs of waste per day. 2.5KG of that goes directly to a landfill.
If your attendees typically travel to your in-person conferences by air, your events are producing a large carbon footprint. Unless you’re using renewable energy, you’re utilizing an enormous amount of power in the form of lighting and heating alone, not to mention the electricity the venue requires to run.
Your printed brochures, programs, signs, and other materials have a hefty environmental cost, as well.
Therefore, the novel coronavirus isn’t the only factor threatening the in-person event industry. As the world also adapts to the threat of climate change, many are making personal decisions not to attend large conferences for sustainability reasons. They welcome the opportunity to engage with virtual events, so transitioning to a virtual model could be a good business decision for your organization.
3. Expand Your Reach
With unlimited space and greater accessibility, you aren’t bound by the restrictions of an in-person conference. Not only will you save costs and lessen your environmental impact by hosting a virtual conference, but you’ll also reach more people.
Space Is Infinite When Planning a Virtual Conference
When working with a planner to host a traditional conference, numbers and space are essential.
As you budget for an in-person conference, you must consider venue space, logistics, catering, the number of attendees, support staff, and accommodation—to name a few.
Virtual space is infinite, giving you and your team the ability to pivot on a moment’s notice if needed. You’ll no longer need to consider how many seats are in a room. You won’t have to provide guarantees for catering three days in advance and risk paying for no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
New technology is available that allows you to host as many attendees as you like, with some platforms offering packages allowing up to 10,000 delegates online at once. Your attendees will also receive unlimited and instant networking opportunities—even if they are continents apart.
In order to attend large conferences, it’s essential that potential attendees have ample funding, have good travel connections, are physically mobile, and don’t have extensive caregiving responsibilities.
Through virtual events, those who live in remote parts of the globe, who have full-time careers, and those with restricted mobility, can engage from the comfort of their homes. The benefits of this are numerous. Inclusivity and accessibility bring richer, diverse contributions to your events.
Not only does expanding your reach increase revenue opportunities through increased participation, but it can also enhance career paths and professional development opportunities for you and your employees.
5. Tailor Your Virtual Conference Content
Another reason to host a virtual event is the unique ability to swap content based on the fluidity of what’s going on—not only within your organization but also in the world.
When planning an in-person event, you must book speakers and arrange travel months in advance. If your subject matter changes, it’s hard to change gears without wasting a substantial amount of money.
When your event is built around content, you have the ability to change the content instead of scrambling to rebook speakers that were contracted months before. Given the uncertainty that COVID-19 has inflicted upon the business world—and the speed at which it has done so—the ability to change course at a moment’s notice is invaluable.
6. Gather Data
It’s even more vital to connect with your stakeholders during a virtual event. These interactions should drive and influence your future marketing campaigns. By collecting the right data, you can increase your reach, reveal more about your audience, and improve your marketing efforts.
It’s possible to recreate the feel of an in-person conference with a virtual experience. You can further humanize your virtual event by implementing break-out sessions or “side meetings.”
Afterward, all data can be downloaded and analyzed for your benefit. This is a major bonus.
You’ll have an automatic record of who attended each session and an overview of their interaction, without paying for a recording or transcription service. This data, combined with session attendance metrics, will give you valuable insight into your conference. You can use it to create targeted, highly-relevant post-conference follow-up tactics to improve future events.
7. Foster Engagement
Use the virtual conferencing tools available to bring important content to your stakeholders.
Consider the difference between a highly engaging virtual event and a one-off webinar. The former can generate a much higher ROI if you implement strategies to foster audience engagement.
In addition to the Q&A chat and polling features discussed above, it’s helpful to include additional information on the screen throughout the event. This keeps all audience members up to speed and allows them to jump into the conversation when convenient. These resources prevent them from feeling like they’ve missed out.
Build Trust with Employees
In addition to providing your attendees with valuable information, you’ll be giving your employees an inside look into the organization and your values.
By sharing your plan to move to virtual events to handle the disruptions within your business, you’re providing employees with security. At the same time, you’re granting them the opportunity to attended and learn—even during the work disruption COVID-19 has caused.
It’s easier than ever to stay connected with these web-conferencing tools—and all of this transparency makes them feel like a part of the larger organization.
Considering Hosting a Virtual Conference?
Let us help.
While the adoption of virtual conference events may increase, especially in the short-term, in-person events will always have their place. However, virtual events are becoming more of a core practice. Companies, employees, and attendees may begin to believe that virtual is the better and more convenient way to go.
Having a plan in place means pivoting to a digital event can be an alternative you can have full confidence in. Executive Interviews can help you execute the conferences that you work so hard to make happen by delivering engaging and informative experiences to your attendees.
In our DisplayRights|Thought Leadership platform, we have curated more than 15,000 ready-to-license videos from our Thought Leadership content partners, including The Big Think, Bloomberg Live, Yahoo Finance, WSJ Events, and more. With curated packages of content on relevant topics such as Learning & Development, Executive Leadership, Legal/Compliance, Employee Training & Education, and Diversity & Inclusion, DisplayRights|Thought Leadership has the breadth and depth of content to take your virtual conference to the next level.
Contact us today to access the content you’re looking for to host your next virtual event.