The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to in-person federal agency events, but one positive trend has been the quick adoption of virtual event platforms as viable alternatives. With virtual events, agencies could continue to retain, inform, and engage with target audiences.
Virtual events will remain relevant long beyond the pandemic. If you are looking for a way to grow your audience base, keep the cost down, turn your attendees to customers, and build lasting business relationships, virtual is the way to go!
Here are nine good reasons your organization should consider hosting a virtual event:
- Lower cost for both organizers and participants
Hosting a virtual event can be less expensive than hosting an in-person event. You will have to factor in platform costs, but you will not have to budget for conference space, staff travel, catering, giveaways, etc. For participants, this also creates new opportunities. Many participant organizations have limited travel and event budgets that restrict attendance. However, virtual events provide a low-cost alternative increasing attendance and allowing organizations to send attendees.
- Higher attendance
Expect to see a big bump in participants at your virtual event compared to in-person gatherings. At a recent NIH event, for example, we saw a 10-fold increase in traffic! [NIH Virtual Conference]. Participants enjoy the flexibility of virtual events, enabling them to attend as little or as much of a virtual event as they are able. Your attendance will continue to grow after the event as participants return to review recorded sessions.
- More diverse audience
Geography is no longer an issue with virtual events. People worldwide can gather and interact virtually without spending any funds on travel and lodging.
- Higher quality speakers
Many high-profile presenters cannot commit to in-person meetings due to demanding schedules but are often willing to participate on a video chat or pre-recorded sessions.
- Video catalog of presentations
When hosting a virtual event, be sure to make your content available for re-watching. Some of your content may also be useful for staff training. Create clips of event highlights for follow-up marketing communications and to promote excitement for future events.
- No surprises
Virtual events eliminate the potential in-person event chaos, such as weather-related issues and unforeseen circumstances with venues (pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, and unrest, for example). Everything is online, so you’re in control.
- Data and analytics
Easily, one of the greatest benefits to hosting a virtual event is the treasure trove of data and analytics you can collect about event participants, behaviors, and session ratings. Analyze the date to improve future meetings and outreach.
- More sustainable
Virtual events are a more sustainable and eco-friendlier alternative to in-person events. Not only do virtual events eliminate the need for travel, but they also do not require room heating, cooling, and lighting. Since resources are provided digitally, there is no need for the printing of program books, handouts, signage, etc.
Finally, a virtual event can scale and accommodate as many participants as needed. An in-person event, on the other hand, is restricted by the space available in the hotel or venue. Session rooms have only a limited capacity. With virtual events, you can expand registrations and eliminate the need to turn away participants from overcrowded popular sessions.
The pandemic has forced us to adapt new virtual event strategies to stay in touch with those we serve. Eventually, a full slate of in-person events will return to normal. However, virtual events have introduced us to many new advantages. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.
For more information on developing and managing a virtual event, please see the Highlight white paper: Virtual Event Success.
Written by: Ann Brameyer | Event Manager with Highlight.