2020 — and now 2021 — have seen an absolute explosion of virtual meetings and events. It’s still unclear exactly which altered pandemic behaviors are here to stay and which will become not so fond memories from what history will surely dub “The Years of Constant Anxiety”. But one thing is certain, even after this COVID-related madness ends, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. So pour yourself a glob of hand sanitizer, wash away the anxiety associated with virtual events and read on to learn about some of the benefits of hosting a virtual event both now and post-Covid.
1. Expand your Audience
Physical travel is so 2019. Ok, not really, I fully look forward to traveling again. But one of the most obvious benefits of a virtual conference is that you need only travel from the bedroom to your computer, and can do so wearing PJ’s, a housecoat and slippers. Hell, pizza (my fave) or waffles with maple syrup (my hubby’s fave) can even be consumed while in attendance! Virtual expands the reach of your potential conference audience to people who either cannot — or choose not to — travel, and also eliminates the problem of finding an appropriately sized venue or limiting your audience because you can’t find a venue large enough. It also allows you to expand your audience beyond borders.
2. Avoid COVID Logistics
At the present, COVID has made physical meetings complicated, uncomfortable and more expensive. Adhering to all of the guidelines around ventilation, sanitization and social distancing is both expensive and exhausting. No conference host wants to hear of attendees getting sick, which means either booking larger venues for social distancing or limiting the number of attendees — and even then there are no guarantees. When someone coughs or sneezes during a virtual conference, your blood pressure might still go up, but that’s just the COVID PTSD; nobody will get sick.
3. Reduce Costs
Hosting a live event is expensive. For this reason many people who wouldn’t normally host a physical conference, should consider a virtual conference as a viable option. The list of items needed for a physical event can get long very quickly including liability insurance, venue rental, food and beverage, A/V rental…we could go on. Hosting a virtual conference eliminates many of these headaches. Also, travel eats up two of our most valuable resources, time and money, and can save your audience from jet lag and the frustration of realizing at midnight that they forgot their toothbrush or lucky socks (hey, they’re a thing).
4. Get into your Audience’s Head
No, we don’t mean look into a crystal ball or become a mind reader (but if you can do either, give us a call!). One of the coolest things about virtual events is that it’s markedly easier to understand what your audience is thinking, feeling and responding to due to the rich data and analytics available both during and post event. Understanding what content excited your audience, which speakers were their faves, and what they avoided like Covid (see what we did there?) is valuable because we are all in the business of giving customers what they want. Having solid data will take you there much faster. It is also a lot easier to measure return on investment with the right data to know if your efforts were worth it and what to tweak on the next go-around.
5. Land the Big Fish
Landing the right speakers for your event adds credibility, sells more tickets and brings in additional sponsorships, but the logistics of a physical event can create barriers to booking those unicorns. Your moon shot speaker is far more likely to be able to participate virtually than if they have to travel far and wide to attend (fingers crossed for Oprah). Virtual conferences remove many of the barriers to creating your ultimate speaker lineup. Speaker not available on the date of your event? Pre-record their session. Too expensive to book them because you have to pay for their travel and time (which is much more than the ½ hour or hour on stage)? With virtual, they only need travel to their laptop and the time they are committing is significantly shortened — which also helps your wallet.
6. Maximize ROI
The right virtual platform can also create a significant value add by enabling you, your speakers and sponsors to capitalize on in the moment audience excitement with integrated calls to action. In the virtual landscape, speakers and sponsors no longer have to wait until after the event to send out offers, they can get attendees to buy their book, sign up for their program, follow them on social media, join their email list and more…all at the click of a button DURING their session. And you can get better insights (and increase survey response rates) by pushing out feedback surveys at the end of each session and throughout the course of the event. Bottom line, with the right platform, audience members can execute a call-to-action when their engagement is highest, raising the likelihood of conversion success, and increasing ROI.
Ready to plan your virtual event? encaptiv offers a fully branded virtual event experience that drives audience engagement, maximizes conversion and provides robust analytics. Book a demo to find out if encaptiv is the right solution for your virtual event.