Online events might have been forced upon us by the coronavirus pandemic, but there are definite – and substantial – advantages associated with fully virtual events.

Increased attendee count 

Contrary to what many people believe, virtual events are actually likely to register higher participation figures than their in-person counterparts. A recent survey showed that attendance levels at an online conference can be, on average, 29% higher than at a live event.

The reason for this is simple – there is no traveling involved, people can join in from wherever they want to, there are (in most cases) on-demand videos/other material available, and networking is facilitated. If someone based in California wants to attend a live event like IFA in Berlin, or a journalist from London, CES in Las Vegas  – that might not always be possible. A virtual event removes such geographical barriers.

More value for exhibitors and sponsors

At first glance, it might seem that virtual events do not offer good value for exhibiting companies and sponsors/partners. There is no physical venue, no actual booths/stalls, no in-person interaction and such opportunities. However, a closer look reveals a different picture. Exhibitors/Sponsors can connect with participants virtually at any time, showcase & promote their products through virtual social communities and no longer worry about empty event booths at the physical venue. Less of travels, more of valuable, effective interactions.

Significantly reduced expenses

Planning an event or launch can be an expensive affair, there is no getting away from it. However, by moving to a virtual event platform, brands can save quite a bit. There are a number of costs such as venue charges, on-location staff payments, travel/accommodation/meal costs, stall setup charges, and other related expenses – which are normally associated with a physical event. Brands can use these savings to actually increase their budget for PR activity and deliver a much higher ROI.

Ensures effective networking

At an in-person event, time is always at a premium. In such a time-crunch scenario, it is not uncommon for attendees to miss key events and networking opportunities. Virtual events make things a lot easier, since there are live chat options and tag-based interactions A person can also look up other participants with their names/emails, and connect with them. In most cases, there are virtual event communities – ensuring effective and mutually beneficial business relationships.

Facilitates attendee feedback

A lot of the apprehensions about planning a virtual event stems from the fact that, for many organisers, this is a first-time experience. However, these online events can actually help in planning a roadmap – since collecting attendee feedback and opinions is very easy in such events.  Live polls, surveys and rating systems can be set up with send push notifications – and in general, find out audience preferences for future events. With proper feedback, it becomes rather simple to plan even better virtual events from the next time.

Saves a lot of time

Since everything happens digitally, less time (and money) is required. Registration and virtual check-in happens quickly, unlike onsite check-in procedures. Of course, there is no need for time to be allotted for travel either. Instead, brands can focus squarely on making their activations a lot more systematic and value-yielding.

Analytics at the fingertips

When an event happens onsite, it’s pretty difficult (if not impossible) to keep track of the activity of each attendee. Things are a lot simpler when it comes to virtual conferences, however. Real-time user activity logs can be maintained, indicating when any person joined a live session, attendee locations, how many people used the live chat and networking options, who got in touch with a particular exhibitor or sponsor (there can be virtual booths as well), what was the event app download count, and a lot more. With more data, it becomes a lot easier to actually gauge the success of an event or activation.

Offers greater flexibility for attendees

At a conference, there can be multiple concurrent sessions. If an event happens physically, participants have to choose which one they would like to attend (sacrificing the other ones in the process). In the virtual domain, people can actually have the best of both worlds. They can participate in one live session – and if other sessions are happening at the same time, they can view the recorded versions later on. Also, if an attendee is unable to join on the event dates, they can access on-demand content later on at their convenience.

More learning opportunities

As already highlighted above, the overall costs and time required for hosting a virtual event are significantly lower. Brands can use these freed up resources to schedule more interactive panel discussions, speaker sessions, virtual breakout rooms, networking sessions, and other elements during the event. That, in turn, would take the attendee experience up by several notches. Participants will get the scope to ‘learn; more through one-on-one sessions – an opportunity that is not likely to be present during a live event.

The technical aspect is no longer a problem either. Throughout the pandemic, more and more virtual event platforms with cutting-edge, user-friendly features have appeared. Participants can join the events from their mobile devices or from their computers, from wherever they like – a stable internet connection is the only requisite.