Hosting an online event is one thing, but being able to monetise it is a second. How do you do that? It sounds weird, doesn’t it? COVID-19 is responsible for more event visitors to your in-person events, but in the long term, it is! Now we can finally go in-person again; it’s time to combine the best part of the two worlds.
Back to normal?
Over six months ago, we were finally able to attend in-person events again after the last wave of COVID-19 passed. And as an event company we love to join events! When Event Tech Live was hosted in the United Kingdom our sales team was so excited to go, that we did not have enough places for everybody to go in-person. We organized a competition for our sales department, where the best performing people got to attend the event physically. The other members attended the virtual version of the event, since it was a hybrid event.
Besides going back to attending events as a company, we also went back to additional costs. Our sales team had to spend no less than a week for two physical event days. Besides the input of time, we also had to deal with travel, food, and accommodation costs. On the other hand, the participation of the virtual version of the event has brought us an exact same amount of knowledge as the physical version of the event without any of the costs involved. Besides costs, our sales consultants met on average five times as many people that we are currently working with virtually compared to in-person. The relationship of the people we met in-person is stronger than the virtual connections, which has brought us an idea…
‘’What if we could combine the benefits of virtual with the benefits of in-person?’’
What do the numbers say?
We have been diving deeper into how people feel about in-person and virtual events and have found some interesting numbers. Research from Presss.org has found that 84% of millennials prefer in-person meetings. Whereas Bizzabo has determined the percentage of event professionals that do not believe virtual events will replace in person events to be 96%! These numbers might make you wonder something…
‘’Why should virtual events exist after all?’’
Reasons behind the visit
To get a better understanding, we wondered why an attendee is visiting the event? To answer this question, we have used the golden circle of Simon Sinek. As an attendee, what do you want? Attendees will answer you that they want to do in-person meetings. However, research will answer you why they are visiting. So of course, we have done some research and asked the event managers and attendees the following question:
‘’Why do you visits events?’’
We have found three main reasons based on the answers given.
- To network and expand this network
- To gain knowledge and find solutions for problems
- To get inspiration and show ideas and work to others
The secret formula…
Ready to do some mathematics? The success formula for an attendee is the ‘why reason’ divided by the ‘investment’, which will lead to the success factor.
The bigger the satisfaction in your ‘why reasons’, the bigger the ‘success factor’.
The less high the ‘why reasons’ and the higher the ‘investment’, the lower the ‘success factor’.
The lower the ‘investment’, the higher the ‘success factor’.
Advantages of in-person events
Communication – Communication is most effective in in-person meetings. Body language is a huge factor in face to face communication. Postures, gestures, facial expressions are best translated in real life. Because communication is most active in in-person, the relationship gets stronger.
Attention for knowledge – Better attention for knowledge, when you are at an in-person event you are focused on what is happening in the room and there is nothing to distract you. (Except if you forget to turn your cellphone off) Whereas a virtual session is easily left with a single click.
Attendees – Easy to keep attendees, people who are at your event will stay, because they have made an investment to come to the event. This applies to long presentations but also for multiple day events.
Advantages of virtual events
New connections – Low barrier of meeting new people. Meeting new people can be very scary to do. We have seen a big improvement in meeting new people in virtual events, simply because the barrier is perceived lower.
Reach and impact – A broader reach and impact can be accomplished by hosting your event virtually. It is easier to attract people from all over the world and there are no limitations like room sizes. On average, 72% of the events of our clients that were hybrid had more visitors online. In addition, 35% of the event managers got 2-3 times more attendees as usual.
Attention and costs – Virtual events are easier to attend and have lower costs. No need for travelling, which leads to people visiting more events. The travel time that is saved, can be spent on visiting another event.
The best of both worlds!
What if we would combine the in-person and virtual events to get the best of both worlds? We would get way better results! It is already happening in the business to consumer world, let us give you an example. With Tinder you use the advantages of online, once you have a match you can make the relationship stronger in an in-person variant. And it really works! The Centre for European Economic Research has shown that people who have met each other using a dating app are more likely to stay together than if they have met in-person.
This can be used in the business to business event world as well, if we add all benefits of both the in-person and virtual events then we can get the best of both worlds.
Let’s summarise all this information, because it was a lot!
- You lower the threshold in meeting new people, but make sure you make a strong relationship with the people you have met.
- You increase the impact of your event by making the knowledge more widely accessible and then you ensure that the people have the attention span to listen to your story after promotion.
- You make it easier for people to get a taste of your event, so that they can make the investment of attending your in-person event.
Different merge types
The first way of doing this is by hosting a hybrid event. It combines the in-person and virtual event for you as an organiser but not for the attendee. So how do you combine it?
A first option of combining is making use of a content teaser, you release a piece of the content and host it via a live stream. This is how you get people interested and make them more likely to attend your event in-person!
When your event is more focussed on networking, then online speed dating might be your way to go! During an online speed date you lower the online threshold for your attendees a few weeks before your physical event. During the physical event the connections made have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship.
A third option is the use of pre-events. Here you combine the content teaser with networking, which leads to a maximum of satisfaction on the ‘why’ of the event.
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