Virtual Events Aren't a "Downgrade" - They're Full of Opportunities
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
The lifeblood of an event is the planning. But the heartbeat of an event is the people. Most businesses have had to shift from in-person to virtual events, and most have done so with a feeling that they are “making do.”
We somewhat agree: there is nothing like being physically present at an event that connects a cross-section of people.
But we have also seen virtual events provide opportunities in-person events never could. There is a massive chance to capitalize on the access, engagement, and attention of people who are logging in from anywhere. At The Wynning Experience, we have witnessed this firsthand, to the extent that we would offer you a bold proposition:
Virtual events aren’t a necessary evil; they could be your greatest amplifier for brand presence and future success.
The Business Case for Virtual Events
There is a clear business case to be made for the benefit of virtual events. Whether you are advocating for an event, or direct the finance department and see a proposal for a virtual event, know this: real revenue is connected to these types of events.
Due to the uptick in events of this nature, GrandView Research performed a market analysis report in July 2021. They estimate that the global virtual events market, currently valued at $94 billion, will surge at a compound annual growth rate of 23.7% between 2021 and 2028. This meteoric growth is contributed to by both small and large-scale events, and an important signal of wide scale adoption.
This in itself is compelling evidence that virtual events are worth it, but so are less tangible factors.
Virtual events are maximally accessible and inclusive.
Very few people are left out of virtual events, with minimal barriers to access and no need to book travel or accommodations. The possibilities inherent in virtual events could result in more diverse, more accessible, and more personalized experiences for all.
There are plenty of other items in the “pro column” for virtual events. Here are some of our favorites:
Virtual events may be less expensive to host and are definitely less expensive to attend. People can save the time and money it takes to travel to an event and instead focus their investments on content upgrades, premium access, and ancillary products.
Event planners, sponsors, and keynote speakers also cost less when you don’t have to host them. This decrease in spending frees up funds to use toward marketing, software, graphics, workshop add-ons, and digital networking facilitation.
With fewer arrangements to make, and a typically lower cost of admission, registration rates tend to be higher for online events.
Consumer demand for hyper-personalized experiences has never been greater. Virtual events give people the opportunity to self-select an experience that’s relevant to their interests and background. With the ability to implement different breakout sessions, event hosts can address niche topics without worrying about any space limitations.
Instead of missing out on interesting panels or keynotes, event guests can attend the live session of their choice and then choose to watch everything else later. The ability for attendees to view recorded presentations multiplies exposure. The success of each session isn’t just measured by live attendance, but by on-demand views later.
Reliable Event Analytics
Most corporations that host regular events are left data-hungry.
What did attendees think?
How were the presentations perceived?
What information did people retain?
It can be near-impossible to get salient feedback from event attendees, and no one has cracked the code of flawlessly acquiring this relevant information.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of virtual event platforms today is analytics.
Here’s a comparison:
Single point: sign-in
At every point: virtually track every action and see exact attendance numbers (with demographics!) for every session
Subjective and difficult to aggregate/report on
Immediate feedback in a high-touch, digitally tracked experience
Challenging: paper or digitally based, can be hard to gather on-site, and almost impossible to gather after the event
Easy: feedback can be collected throughout and easily tied to other digital activities and communications
Put another way:
Online engagement is easily trackable, whereas in-person events require direct surveys for observable attendee feedback. In a virtual gathering, you can view user statistics to gain a wealth of insight into current and future events. An event platform can shed light on how many attendees are watching live, what demographic markers they have, and offer up real-time responses from users.
Data reports can be as general or as detailed as needed. Analytics dashboards become a handy resource for shaping future event strategies.
BONUS: Getting a clear picture of what gained the most attention and what resulted in a noticeable engagement drop-off can even help speakers and instructors deliver better presentations in the future.
Empowered Networking Options
Humans are social creatures, and a frequently heralded objection to virtual events is that they don’t adequately facilitate networking. Make no mistake: the virtual world is full of expansive networking opportunities.
What a virtual event is not doing is replacing a golf outing. What it is doing is giving you greater access to people at more times, not to mention the ability to glean data from social listening.
Hosts and attendees alike can find the people they need to connect with, honing in on shared interests, intersecting fields, or like minded ventures, which actually equips them to “get to the point” much faster.
Industry-specific meetups give people greater chances at engaging in meaningful interactions. Female entrepreneurs, tech startup founders, remote recruiting experts, and minority leaders are all examples of targeted network groups that can easily find each other at a virtual event.
Broader Information Sharing
Fast-paced information sharing is a major benefit of a virtual event. No more scattered piles of handouts or waiting in long lines for freebies. Event materials, such as pamphlets and workbooks, can now be shared widely — and instantly.
With download links and convenient file sharing across the event platform, attendees obtain the resources they need when they need it. This saves the management team’s expenses, not to mention immediately pinpointing the MVP content.
BONUS: Digital materials have a significantly lower impact on the environment, decreasing waste and supporting sustainable practices.
Prioritizing Diverse Perspectives
Online experiences remove any excuse to hear only from a “select crowd.” Going virtual can put a mic in the hands of diverse leaders. Speaker selection is virtually limitless, and event leaders can gain access to a broader talent pool for all types of presenters.
Invites are easier to send, speaker arrangements are flexible, and thought-sharing exists outside of the box of physical proximity.
Content delivery can also be mixed up, with an array of long-form lectures, captivating debates, interactive Q&A sessions, or short-form “popcorn style” storytelling.
The Wynning Experience: Your Virtual Event Awaits
It’s clear that virtual events will become the new normal. Rather than feeling like a second string decision, virtual events represent a blue ocean opportunity for businesses.
Virtual events are inclusive, cost-effective, and personalized. They offer up rich data sets, enhanced networking opportunities, and broader information sharing. To truly prioritize diverse perspectives, you need a partner with the right approach.
At the Wynning Experience, WE know what it takes to bring events to life. Our expert event strategies and planners oversee some of the best virtual events in the world. With ROI-focused planning, expert event management, experiential design, and technical A/V (audio/video) support, WE ensure elite, equitable experiences that surpass expectations.
To make your next meeting, seminar, or conference a stand-out experience for all, connect with the Wynning team today: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-800-3605.
This is Bradford Wynn signing off and may all your events be a "Wynning Experience"!