The Unexpected Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events
This guest blog post is from Caitlin Bartley, CEO of cred, our new event partner. cred helps their clients express their vision and elevate virtual events to a virtual experience. Having experienced hundreds of virtual events, cred brings valuable best practices and lessons learned to the table to help event organizers and their speakers craft engaging, interactive content. Together, The Craftsman Agency and cred create imaginative events, captivating content, and seamless planning experiences.
It almost seems as though years have passed since rumblings of a pandemic were circulating in early March, threatening to bring the event industry to a screeching halt. Optimism was shared through outlooks of “it will go back to normal next month” and “don’t worry, they won’t cancel the event”—and now, these words cause us to shake our heads at the blissful ignorance our industry was once guilty of presenting.
Luckily, we’ve seen a quick pivot to virtual and, as we plan more and more virtual events, we’re seeing benefits that we never would have anticipated.
We all miss the in-person networking, post-event happy hours, and traveling to a new city for a big conference, but we can’t deny there are some serious upsides that have been born out of the shift to virtual—or even hybrid—events!
Reduced Budget and More Cost Savings
One of the more obvious benefits is decreased cost. It is no secret that live events can become extremely expensive to host. Once you’ve added up the venue fees, food and beverage, AV and onsite tech assistants, keynote speaker fees, hotel blocks . . . the list really goes on, and the amounts climb. But virtual events have eliminated many of those startling amounts. Yes, we know time is money and it takes time to choose the best platform for your event, but you’ll no doubt be satisfied with how much budget you have left over when compared to a live event.
Large Turnouts and Global Audiences
Another advantage of shifting your event online is the global participation you can garner. With virtual conferences, one can tune in from anywhere in the world, no plane ticket required. And with most events offering an on-demand facet, it’s unnecessary to dwell on time zones.
Virtual events allow for a far greater attendee turnout as compared to in-person events. The flexibility our “new normal” provides to attendees is unparalleled—audiences can tune in from their kitchen while eating breakfast, from their phone while on a walk, or from the couch as the day is winding down.
Attendees can even attend various online conferences or meetings in one day if they wish, whereas, in the pre-COVID era, you might often hear people say things like, “Oh, I can’t go, I’ll be at XX event that week instead.” Virtual events truly allow for a larger, more diverse pool of participants than we’ve ever witnessed before—not to mention the fact that most events aren’t charging ticket fees, which means that people can join conferences they might not have been able to before.
Increased Speaker Availability
In that same vein, there is certainly more flexibility when it comes to confirming speakers. This new era has brought a more malleable day-to-day with most people slowing down from their usual hectic schedules. With most of us still working from home, it allows for more opportunities to participate in a virtual session or two throughout the day. This has also been the case with keynote speakers.
Executives and entertainment types have never experienced this much time at home, as they might normally be on a plane flying from conference to conference, and they have more availability to speak (when they’re not baking sourdough or doing puzzles). Virtual formats have made it easier to confirm big-name keynote speakers—though it still comes with a hefty price tag in some cases because they could do multiple keynotes in one day if they wanted—and event organizers are able to add more exciting stories and household names to agendas than ever before.
More Attendee Feedback
There are now increased opportunities for collecting feedback. Webinar platforms provide rapid analysis and metrics that make exploring your audience easier than ever before. We are now able to track key data points like the average length of time spent at one session or level of interaction with polls, survey feedback, and audience Q&A.
Sure, at live events we can shake hands and share business cards, but at an online conference, we are able to track participation in a way that gives us more insight than in years prior.
More Sustainable Events
Lastly, there is one benefit that we simply can’t ignore: There is no question that the slowdown in daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a positive effect on the environment. In a time where it did not seem likely that we could ever reverse the detrimental effects of climate change, there is now at least a glimmer of hope.
Virtual events not only eliminate the need for travel, but also countless printed documents like pamphlets, agendas, and banners that in-person events normally require. Not to mention providing food and beverage to attendees when, sadly, most meals end up in the garbage a few hours later.
We know it has been a wild—and at times exhausting—year. But hang in there and remember there are still many benefits to hosting your virtual event.
We’re partnering with The Craftsman Agency to help you get the most out of your virtual events. Together, we’ll take your event to the next level of creativity and engagement—and we're always just one email away.