As online events platforms continue to be one of the most important partners for publishers and other businesses in 2021 we outline eight key lessons about virtual events from the pandemic year.
Press Gazette research suggests that last year UK publishers alone lost at least £2bn in revenue because of cancelled face-to-face events.
Norway-based digital meetings specialist myOnvent has had a head-start thinking about all this as it has been providing a platform for virtual events since 2013.
How to make virtual events work, eight lessons:
1) Just do it
When the pandemic hit, many organisers simply cancelled their events. Some pivoted to online right away and were able to offer their audiences alternatives that kept them engaged and in the loop. Digital events can be turned around at lightning speed compared to physical ones, so be nimble and if in doubt just do it.
2) Networking remains important in the virtual world
Live events are unique in bringing people together for spur of the moment conversations, enabling them to make new connections and have positive interactions. When choosing an online events platform, make sure your partner provides networking opportunities for your guests. On myOnvent, networking features include: social media integration, live video wall poll and chat features, the ability for guests to build contact lists across events and social media integration
3) Think global
The pandemic eliminated travel, but companies that pivoted to online events quickly discovered that their potential audience had suddenly grown. Through online events, people from all over the world can come together from the convenience of their home office. So whereas before you may have targeted your audience based around their ability to travel to particular venue, now you can reach attendees and commercial partners anywhere in the world.
4) Online events offer a range of monetisation options
During the past year, we’ve seen our clients can generate significant revenue from online events. There are several ways of monetizing your event, and you need to make sure that your event provider offers these kinds of services. Event monetization ranges from sponsorship opportunities, selling exhibitor space at fairs and charging an attendance fee. We provide organisers with detailed event statistics which they can share with commercial clients to show how attendees have engaged with their brand.
5) Virtual events unlock new high-profile speakers
Interesting and engaging speakers are key to attracting guests to your events. Organising an online event means most speakers can give their talk from the comfort of their own homes. That massively expands the potential list of high-level speakers you can attract to your event. It often also reduces cost. During the pandemic, most people who spend significant time on video conferencing platforms developed high-quality streaming setups, so broadcasting from home doesn’t mean you have to compromise on production values either.
6) Sustainability has been a bonus of virtual events
When participants can attend an event from the comfort of their own home, they save time spent on travel and cut emissions. According to MeetGreen, the average conference attendee produces more than 170 kilos of CO2 emissions per day, along with almost 2 kilos of waste. That’s removed when moving online, and is a contributing factor to the falling Co2 emissions during the pandemic. Sustainability can be a big selling point for both sponsors and attendees.
7) Extending event engagement increases RoI
A physical event is usually a capped affair. People arrive at your venue, spend some time there and leave. When you move online, you can keep all your content online, allow guests to return to the event platform to experience it and get more miles out of the content you produce. In short, the online event lives on for months. If you are hosting multiple events, consider establishing an always-open networking space for returning guests where they can interact and engage with other guests to boost their RoI even further.
8) Branding and presentation is key
We’ve all been on what seems like a thousand zoom calls in the last year. They all look the same. Make sure you are able to represent your brand virtually when doing online events. Displaying a logo is of course great, but some high-end events platform providers like myOnvent offers custom lobby design, avatars, multiple branding opportunities and even custom URLs for your event.
How to host great virtual events: Conclusion
When we’re able to meet again, these lessons will still apply. Online events are here to stay, because of the benefits outlined above, and physical events can have it both ways by adopting an online element.