Virtual Conferences and Summits Are Growing More Popular, Here’s Why

When your business reaches a certain point in growth and popularity, there’s a good chance that you’ll consider the opportunity of hosting your own event. Perhaps it’s to build up excitement for a new product, or maybe it’s to talk about a recent customer case study that you’ve been working on. Maybe you just want to create new networking opportunities and have the resources and connections to make it happen, or it could be an industry roundtable that encourages discussion and collaboration.

Whatever the occasion, it was popular to have both public and private events in the past. However, as digital technology advances, there’s been an increase in the number of virtual conferences and summits too. These online digital-only events come with numerous benefits, and we’ll be discussing them in this post.

The benefits of online virtual events

Let’s start by discussing some of the biggest benefits of hosting a virtual event as opposed to an in-person one.

Increased reach by eliminating barriers

When hosting an online event, you tend to eliminate barriers that make it hard or impossible for certain people to attend. For example, there are no geographical barriers holding your event back, making it possible for businesses to reach a global audience. This expanded reach can lead to increased brand awareness, exposure to new markets, and even new business connections.

Being able to open your event to everyone from around the world is a huge benefit that leads to far more exposure and opportunities. It also makes it possible for regular people to attend your event and watch it. They don’t need to purchase or book tickets, and they don’t have to travel across the world just to see your content.

Easier to manage

Virtual events are a lot easier to manage than in-person events, especially if you use an all-in-one event platform to simplify things. This is largely because you don’t have to worry about the logistics of finding an event venue, transporting equipment, and booking travel tickets for everyone involved. It’s a lot easier to just host an online event from your home or workplace since you only need to worry about putting on a good event.

You also get a lot more flexibility and convenience when hosting a virtual event. You can schedule the event at convenient times without restrictions from a venue, and attendees even have more convenience because they don’t need to travel or dedicate hours of their time to your event. They can just tune in, watch your event, and go back to their daily activities afterward.

Cost savings

Hosting virtual events usually means lower upfront costs when compared to in-person events. You dodge expensive costs such as travel, logistics, and venue rental fees. This makes hosting virtual events a much more cost-effective option for smaller businesses and startups, but it also saves a huge amount of money if you’re a larger company.

This means that your return on investment for a virtual event is usually much higher than an in-person event. You reach a wider audience at a much lower price, so you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck.

Environmental sustainability

One of the more underrated benefits of hosting a virtual event is environmental sustainability. Summits, events, and keynotes can typically be the cause of increased carbon emissions because they require people to travel around the country or world just to attend. In addition, transporting large and heavy equipment for the purposes of showcasing a product or hosting a workshop can also contribute to increased emissions.

Hosting a virtual event is therefore a greener option than traditional in-person events. By reducing the carbon footprint associated with travel and in-person gatherings, you can align your events with your company’s values of environmental responsibility.

Data and analytics
Image Credit: Unsplash

Hosting a virtual event can actually provide your business with a huge amount of data that can give you insights into attendee behavior and engagement metrics. You can use this information to gauge the success of your events, but you can also use it to refocus your efforts and products on audiences that you weren’t expecting.

For instance, let’s say you’re hosting a virtual workshop and there’s a surprising amount of people connecting from a certain country. If you hadn’t previously been focusing on that country, then you can double your marketing efforts there because the data shows that people from there are interested in your company and its products.

What works well as a virtual event?

Businesses can offer a huge range of diverse content at virtual events. Whether it’s a workshop, summit, conference, or webinar, there are loads of different events that can cater to the needs and preferences of your audience.

Virtual keynote presentations

For instance, a keynote presentation works great in a virtual setting. They’re typically delivered by industry experts and company executives who have busy schedules. This can be demanding, so it’s great to have a convenient option where they can host an event in the comfort of their office or even at home.

Virtual educational workshops

Educational workshops are also a brilliant option for virtual events, especially if you can educate your audience and host practical demonstrations over the internet. Something like a design or programming workshop works brilliantly as a virtual event, especially because your audience can follow along at home on their own machines.

Virtual product demonstrations

Product demonstrations can also make for excellent virtual events. Showcasing your products and services at in-person events works for the majority of products, but there are some circumstances where it makes more sense to demonstrate something online.

For instance, product walkthroughs and demonstrations of hardware and software can sometimes be a lot easier over the internet since you don’t need to carry hardware across the country or the world. Instead, it can be shown from your workplace where you already have everything set up.

Virtual networking sessions

Networking sessions can also be done online, but it’s usually a very different experience from what someone might be used to with in-person exchanges and conversations. Virtual networking can typically involve the use of Zoom meetings or chat sessions with instant messaging platforms like Discord or Slack. While it’s not quite in-person, you can still have video conferences and discussions.

Virtual networking has some unique advantages too, such as being able to connect people regardless of their geographical location. In addition, you also have a saved history of conversations, meaning it’s easier to record contact information and valuable insights that you’ve shared or received.

As you can see, there are lots of different ways to use virtual events and their advantages can be applicable to many existing events that we participate in.

Do in-person events still have a place?

Yes, without a doubt! Even though virtual events come with so many unique advantages, it’s important to keep in mind that in-person events will continue to exist and still serve as the premium option for businesses that can both afford them and have the infrastructure to manage them easily.

While many large companies such as Apple and Google have used virtual events to showcase their products, they’re still going to host physical in-person events in tandem with their virtual ones. There’s no reason why they can’t use both as it gives the advantages of both in-person and virtual events.

However, it’s understandable that your company might not have the resources to pull it off as well. If you have to decide between in-person and virtual events, then we’d highly recommend giving virtual events a try given all of the amazing benefits that it offers. It comes with unique advantages that, if you lean into and explore, can lead to a much more fulfilling event for both you and your attendees.

But with that said, it’s not a good idea to completely give up in-person events. If an opportunity presents itself and you’re able to host a cost-effective event at a nearby venue to increase local exposure, then you should absolutely take the chance. You can always run a virtual event at the same time as an in-person one to gain even more exposure with minimal extra work.

Should you host a virtual event?

There are a lot of benefits to hosting a virtual event, but it ultimately comes down to what you want to achieve and what resources you have available to you. Public events and trade shows are always going to be around–virtual isn’t replacing them. However, it’s hard to ignore all of the benefits of a virtual event and the opportunities that it creates for you. That’s why so many companies are either adding virtual events to their schedules or are completely switching to them and dropping in-person events.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Whatever you choose to do, you can’t go wrong with a virtual event, especially if you’re willing to put a bit of time and work into the project to ensure it goes well. Just remember that regardless of the content of your virtual event, it’s important to have goals in mind. Keep a track of these goals and work towards reaching them so that you get a big return on your investment.

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