With the rise of virtual events in the marketplace, many show organizers and meeting planners are wondering how they could work together with their current physical event.
Realize that virtual events are here to stay, and you should view them as a new and exciting tool in your arsenal, which allows you to bring people together to exchange information. The difference is simply that they are online rather than live. You could say that they “bend the rules of business.”
In order to understand where they might fit into your existing events schedule, know there are three major ways that virtual events can work together with your physical events. They can:
Let’s examine each one of these ways so that you can make the best decision that’s right for your upcoming events.
1. They can Supplement.
When you supplement your physical event, be it a sales meeting, user conference, association meeting, trade show or more, realize that the biggest benefit you experience is the ability to share information more frequently. For example, if you currently host a live event that takes place once a year; think about holding a virtual event every six months, quarterly or even monthly. Increasing the frequency of your event allows you to keep your teams involved with changes or any other information that you need to convey, on a more regular basis. Often waiting until your annual event to share essential facts, figures, etc., this information may already be out-dated and thus becomes meaningless.
2. They can Complement.
Complementing your physical event with one that is virtual means that you could organize an event before the event. This allows you to schedule a virtual event several weeks before your live meeting. This then gives you the chance to highlight and supplement information that’s going to be covered at your upcoming event. In addition, going virtual with information gives you the opportunity to connect with people around the world who might normally be unable to attend your live event.
Another complement would be to use a virtual event to promote your live meeting. Just like watching a trailer for an upcoming movie, you could feature some of the major highlights such as, your keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, or other fun and exciting activities that you’ve planned. Obviously, your aim is to encourage extra registrations, especially for people who are on the fence as to whether or not to attend. This virtual event teaser could well be a turning point for them.
3. They can Replace.
For some of you, this might be the scariest option. Replacing your physical event with a virtual event, you are going from the known to the unknown. How might your attendees react? Would they still attend? Would they get the information they need? These, and many more questions might well be whizzing through your head as you consider this alternative.
Realize that when you bring your event online, your creativity is only limited by your imagination as to what you might offer.
If you decide to organize a virtual conference, you can organize a dynamite, top-notch and exciting educational/informational program, as well arrange a trade show for your industry vendors and suppliers, mimicking your physical event.
One of the benefits that is often not realized when organizing a virtual event, is that you could attract some keynote speakers who might not be available on your pre-set dates of your live meeting. Since your virtual event can be pre-recorded, your keynote speakers can record their speech at their convenience. The same applies to any or all of your concurrent sessions. In addition, you have the ability to make the entire event available online for people to view, again at their convenience, rather than just the day of the event.
What about exhibitors? Know that you can sell space and sponsorships to help make this a profitable component of your conference. Exhibiting virtually is a topic for another article. Just realize that the more valuable you make participating in your conference the higher the chances of selling space, and the higher the possible price tag for participating. By the way, trade show training is as a necessary here as it is for a live event.
In conclusion, as you think using a virtual event, consider how you could supplement, complement or replace your physical event. If you’re still not sure, try a small meeting so that you can learn the ropes and feel more comfortable when it comes to organizing a larger event. The best company I know to help you with this is vConference.