The year 2020 turned the meetings and events industry on its head, with lingering changes here to stay. It’s no surprise that the pandemic catapulted virtual events into the stratosphere. These online gatherings once served as a good-enough-for-now solution to the unfortunate alternative of canceling in-person events completely. As the event landscape shifted, event professionals realized that virtual would not just be a temporary fix, but a key part of event strategy going forward - one that includes hybrid events with both on-site and online components.
Benefits of Virtual Events
An overwhelming amount of meeting planners and event organizers are continuing to move to virtual events in the new year - 93%, according to Bizzabo. We already know virtual events are much easier on the budget, saving time and money that would have spent on such essentials such as travel, accommodations, venue, food and beverage, and more. Beyond cost savings, though, virtual events offer an abundance of benefits that you might not have ever considered.
Now, all of these advantages don’t mean you can put it on cruise control and sail right into your virtual event without intention and effort. But, not having to deal with many of the typical challenges for in-person events means you can focus more on streamlining workflow, creating and executing a stellar communication strategy, and putting processes into place to design an event for maximum engagement and ROI. Take a look, then let us know in the comments what we missed.
MeetingPlay's List of Hidden Benefits of Virtual Events
The potential for increasing your attendance — even exponentially — is huge. It’s much easier to get people on board for a virtual event than an in-person event they have to commit to from a budget and time perspective.
Kiss the headache of last-minute registrants goodbye. When participants register in the final hour for a virtual event, there’s no need to drop everything and scramble to adjust F&B orders to ensure they don’t miss a meal (whew!)
No More Hidden Fees
No more hidden fees from your venues — oh yes, because you don’t need one! Your event lives entirely online, baby. (Check out MeetingPlay’s virtual event platform, which could be your next event’s new home!)
The world is your oyster, literally. Hosting a virtual event means you could open up registration to anyone in any location around the world. How cool is that?
Now’s the time to really get serious about analytics, as virtual events lend the opportunity for much greater tracking (who’s attending which sessions, who’s staying for the duration, who’s leaving half-way through — and why?). Data is power, because the more you know, the more you’ll be able to tailor future events to deliver exactly what attendees need and want.
Better Lead Retrieval
Better analytics means better leads (and lead retrieval) for exhibitors and sponsors, too. That’s a win-win your sales team will thank you for.
Virtual events are a much greener alternative than in-person events. Not a scrap of paper required, and travel costs like greenhouse gases are eliminated, so we’re calling it: They’re great for the environment!
All Weather is Welcome
Don’t like the look of plastic tents? Us, either. Thankfully, virtual events don’t require a backup plan (or shelter) in case of bad weather, so you can forgo your pro membership to the Weather Channel app.
Lose the Logistics
No problem if you can’t read code or reach for the Advil bottle every time you have to decipher legalese. With virtual events, there’s no hotel or venue contracts to negotiate. Even better? Eliminating the need for physical logistics (like creating all those pesky signs!) means you’ll have more time to focus on making the actual experience of the virtual event unforgettable.
Forget having to worry about whether your staffers will roll out of bed and make it to the venue early enough to set up for registration. As long as you can count on them to make it from their sleeping quarters to their computer, you’re good!
No Neighbors, No Problem
Virtual events eliminate any concern over what will be taking place next door, from a distracting furry convention to a sales meeting from your top competitor.
While you certainly hope attendees are washing their hands and sanitizing regularly to stay safe and well, their health is completely off your plate. Not a drop of hand sanitizer (or liability) required on your part when running a virtual event.
Wave Goodbye to Economy Seats
When you take travel commitments off the table, it can open up a whole new realm of high-caliber speakers you might not have been able to secure for an in-person event. Plus, freed of a physical space and on-site costs, you’ll have more budget to spend on talent to make your event content top-notch.
All the introverts among your attendees will love you. Awkward cocktail hours and mixers, be gone! It can be much easier to chat and get to know others from behind the safety of a screen.
Easily Gather Feedback
Because your participants will already be on their devices, tuning into your event, chances are it will be much easier to collect feedback — think real-time polls, surveys, and reactions to speakers and sessions. All of this data can help inform decisions as you plan future events, or even pivot focus in the moment.
Not being tied to a venue’s policies and time constraints allows much greater flexibility in scheduling, as well as the ability to offer more customization options to attendees. Is your group a bunch of night owls? Consider an afternoon start time that runs later in the evening. Have attendees in many different time zones? Offer choices for them to watch sessions or participate when it’s convenient for them.
Release Your Inner Creative Spirit
Virtual events don’t have to be only virtual — it’s easy (and fun!) to combine a physical component, too. For example, you could host a virtual happy hour for networking and mail a DIY cocktail kit to each participant in advance, so they can craft their own old fashioned or G&T from home while following along.
No More Awkward Conversations
On a similar note, there’s no need for monitoring the crowd at an open-bar event and having to clumsily ask irresponsible drinkers to leave.
Use Your Own Restroom
No more pointing people to the restrooms when you’re in the middle of handling 100 other things. End of story.
Never Hear "I have a food allergy" Again
Skip the arduous process of planning a menu that will satisfy every (most) attendees and accommodate dozens of dietary restrictions. All can choose exactly what they want to eat for each meal from the comfort of their own fridge, saving you any complaints that would arise from a group meal service!
No More Finder's Keepers
There’s no need for a lost-and-found where you’re left trying find the rightful owner of a forgotten blazer or a handful of rogue laptop chargers.
It requires less effort to get attendees posting on social media about how much they’re learning and how much fun they’re having at your virtual event, since they’re already on their devices anyway. The challenge is creating visuals more interesting than a screen full of talking heads for them to actually post — but you can do this through creating prompts, contests, questions, hashtags, social libraries and more.
See Ya, Loud Attendees!
No more annoying ringtones or beeping notifications interrupting sessions. If any participant is causing unnecessary background noise, you can simply mute them on your virtual platform.
Show Off Your Hard Work
Virtual events help bolster your reputation as a company. You’re showing your adaptive, resourceful and on the cutting-edge of technology, delivering tools, knowledge and connections to your attendees.
Finally, Throw Those Heels in the Trash
One of our favorite parts of virtual events as an event planner? Your feet won’t be killing you by the end of the day. See you later, blisters, aches and pains from running around all day. Heck, you can even wear slippers if you want. We won’t judge — and your attendees will never know.
So, have we convinced you virtual events are where it’s at? Need help getting started? MeetingPlay to the rescue! Contact us today for a demo to learn how we can help you design the perfect virtual event to help you achieve your business goals.