Virtual events have become all the rage of late. Organizations are flocking towards virtual summits, virtual career fairs and virtual education fairs as if these were the new ‘it’ things. It is almost reminiscent of the buzz that surrounded Virtual Reality (VR) headsets or hover boards where you just had to have one to be cool. The only difference is, virtual events have passed the ‘fad’ test owing to their exceptional pros and next-to-no cons, which signals that they are here to stay.
‘Virtual event’ is the umbrella terms that commonly covers Job Fairs, Career Fairs, Tradeshows, Education Fairs, Open Days, Project Launches, Benefits & Onboarding Fairs and Networking Events. Although each event serves a different purpose, they all replicate the layout of a physical event through features like Auditorium Halls, Receptions, Help Desks, virtual booths, a resource center, video vaults, chat rooms and swag bags/wish carts. Virtual events match their physical counterparts in experience and exceed them in engagement and engagement; the latter being counter-intuitive but still true.
They remove many of the time, cost, capacity and geographical constraints that plague conventional events which has made them very popular with corporations and universities over the past decade. To read about how to setup a virtual event, read our article here. Although virtual events are very useful for a lot of reasons, they are most successful if they are used to overcome specific hurdles.
This article talks about the tell-tale signs that indicate that your company needs to take its events to the virtual space and benefits that this will have along the way.
- Your target audience lives across the globe
If your event aims to attract visitors from different part of the world, going virtual is your best bet. This makes your event accessible from any screen across the globe and opens the gates to people who are on the move. Your event lives right in their palms which results in a wider and more diverse turnout.
Companies hosting virtual career fairs can gather a diverse workforce that is willing to either relocate or work remotely for the company. Similarly, universities are rapidly shifting to virtual open days to invite a globally diverse student-base to have a look at their campuses and academic programs. With the boom of online shopping, virtual tradeshows have seen a massive growth as well where people from around the world can indulge in transactions.
- You’re on a budget
A physical fair costs upwards of 50,000 pounds1 and a virtual fair will cost you a fraction of that. Your main expenses will be the amount paid to the platform provider, the promotional material/content prepared prior to the event and the marketing spend. In exchange, you will save on venue and equipment rental, staff accommodation and transport, event branding, booth setup, decoration, catering, marketing collateral printing costs and giveaways.
- You’re pressed for time
A virtual event has a setup time of about a month, if you partner with a reputable virtual event platform. This includes the time taken to convey your requirements, setup a mock event, train your staff in navigating through the event and its ultimate execution. A physical fair, on the other hand, can take much longer.
It takes months to plan it, about the same time to get sponsors on board, weeks to conduct vendor meetings and the event itself consumes your event manager entirely. Not to mention that marketing it is a major challenge as it requires both offline and online channels. Cleanup and exit takes a day or two as well. With a virtual fair, all this stress is transferred to the platform providers who not only treat it as a turn-key project but also provide reliable customer support before and during the event.
- You want each visitor to have a customized experience
This applies to all virtual event categories and is one of the strongest contributors to the success of virtual events. Since each visitor has the option to choose the content that they wish to absorb and save, and this includes webinars, videos, brochures and e-books, they often rate virtual events much higher in overall engagement. With a conventional fair, your attendees would have to go through the standard schedule of seminars and presentations but the ‘on-demand’ viewing aspect of virtual fairs enables them to handpick material of choice which increases interest and conversions.
Individual chats enabled on each session and virtual booth adds to the individual visitor experience. They can chat with reps without having to queue in a long line and having to condense their queries to a 1 minute per person interaction.
- You labored over quality content and don’t want to waste it
If your team has worked hard at creating original compelling content for visitors, you can re-use it to up your content marketing game long after the event has finished. Your introductory videos can go onto your company’s careers site or products page. You can upload the webinars onto YouTube or Vimeo and share them with your subscribers through email campaigns. If you conducted in-event surveys and polls, you can convert those results into a quick blog post and share it with your social media followers. You can also use your chat interactions to create or update an FAQ page. The possibilities are endless.
- Your company’s higher-ups want quantifiable metrics
Perhaps the most salient tie-breaker between physical and virtual fairs is the ability of the latter to furnish detailed reports. With a physical fair, although you do have people coming in, visiting booths, grabbing brochures and dropping their contact information, you don’t possess the means to accurately measure the results of the fair. So, in the end, it essentially comes down to how well the exhibitors thought the event had gone.
The benefit of the digital space is that it tracks every registrant and records every chat conversation exchanged, on-demand videos watched, resources downloaded and shared along with all the uploads made and transactions performed. The numbers show it all in black and white with no room for biases. This does three things. It makes it easy to quantify the event’s success, helps track visitors’ preferences to maximize the ROI of future events and allows you to measure your staff’s performance down to each user and booth.
Catch a look at the cool infographic on this here.
There you have it, 6 signs that show you that virtual events are something your organization should seriously consider. If you’re still on the fence over the format of your company events, you can always choose a hybrid solution that combines the physical meeting space of a conventional event and couples it with the interactive content options of a virtual one. However, offering your audience the ability to remotely access your event is a great start, and one that is already overdue. Your attendees will love the flexibility and you will appreciate the convenience.