Event industry experts shared their experiences and wisdom at the Virtual Event Institute’s (VEI) monthly summit on Event Monetization Success, sponsored by EventsCase.
Speakers at the virtual summit included Jeremy King, CEO of Festival of Media; Sophie Holt, managing director of Explori; Sam Oakley, senior portfolio director of Informa Tech; Rhonda Wunderlin, head of performance marketing at Questex; Harlan Davis, vice president, product and innovation of GDS Group; and Kevin Lorch, managing director of EventsCase. The session was moderated by VEI's Emma Hilditch.
Q. On monetization, what are you seeing and experiencing in the marketplace?
#1 “The biggest mistake I keep seeing over and over is people taking what they do in the live space and putting it into virtual, then finding sponsors and delegates do not want to pay because it doesn’t quite work.” Jeremy King, CEO of Festival of Media
#2 “We've gone through two or three pivots because each time we're learning more about digital behavior, how technology can facilitate data-driven connections and that networking means something different digitally than it does physically. We're having much more strategic and cross-divisional conversations with clients as they're looking at it from a year-long perspective. One of the best things about digital events is there isn’t a line of when you can start and stop delivering value to your audience. Create value pre-event or post-event with content or by driving connections. Harlan Davis, vice president, product and innovation of GDS Group
#3 “We created tiered sponsorship packages, offering sponsored speaker opportunities, branding and created a content hub for partners, which we marketed prior to the event. We were then able to deliver data back to our sponsors on not only who registered for the event and who attended their session, but also who engaged with their content, how long they looked at their content and what type of content people wanted.” Rhonda Wunderlin, head of performance marketing, Questex
#4 “Technology easily allows organizers to quickly duplicate events, meaning in theory, they can run many events throughout the year without having to put in hours and hours to set them up. And that means you have the ability to create more events and cater for attendees in different time zones and markets and provide more freedom to experience the content how and when attendees want. People have had enough of structured meetings. I think in a virtual world we can challenge what typically happens in an event and put a new stamp on things.” Kevin Lorch, managing director of EventsCase
#5 “We've found smaller, closed-door and Chatham-house type gatherings – focusing on specific topics or products or technologies – really effective. This gives a better experience for participants but also deeper engagement for sponsors.” Sam Oakley, senior portfolio director of Informa Tech
Q. Are virtual and hybrid events here to stay?
#6 “Everybody craves human connection, but, at a certain point, it is going to be difficult to convince senior executives they need to fly around 20 weeks a year again, when they've just proven over the past year that they can do things online at a more rapid pace. As much as we want to mix and mingle and be together, the efficiency of how valuable that event is for them, their business, their careers, etc, is going to trump the want to just be in a space together. I believe there will be some sort of combination in the future. We'll be operating as digital-first until the world tells us otherwise.” Harlan Davis, vice president, product and innovation of GDS Group
#7 “I don't think virtual events will ever go away. I think the future of live events will certainly look different than they ever have before. We are considering having regional events that occur at the same time where the keynote, or a few sessions, are streamed to all of those locations. Attendees would pay for the live event, and would get the virtual event for free, with a lower price for virtual event attendees.” Rhonda Wunderlin, head of performance marketing, Questex
#8 “Because we’re all using Zoom all the time now, many corporations are taking a monthly sales kickoff, or monthly meeting, and turning it into a really small-scale event with engagement, breakouts, speakers, Q&A, and registration instead of Google calendar invites where you can collect valuable data.” Kevin Lorch, managing director of EventsCase
#9 “We have increased our audience reach by going virtual with our awards. The judging session worked ok in an online environment, but many judges missed out on their ROI because it is the conversations and networking during the coffee break and over the course of a day that leads to valuable business connections.” Jeremy King, CEO of Festival of Media
Q. What would be your advice on how other organizers can achieve monetization success at their events?
#10 “Exhibitor training and coaching is vital. We know this has a huge impact in the live environment to increase exhibitor advocacy and ROI. It's even more important in the digital space. Sponsors need help with how to use and get the most out of the array of digital platforms that we’re using.” Sophie Holt, managing director of Explori
#11 “Think beyond the week of the event. Consider your engagements with your community and sponsors on a year-round basis. Get closer to your community to unlock revenues.” Sam Oakley, senior portfolio director of Informa Tech
#12 Be thoughtful about the technology you choose. There are opportunities to integrate these different technologies together, which has been invaluable for us. There is no one platform that can deliver everything you need across all types of events. Rhonda Wunderlin, head of performance marketing, Questex
VEI’s next virtual summit ‘Philosophy, Purpose, Platform: Creative Strategies, Concepts and Activations for Audience Engagement’, sponsored by Glisser, will take place on Thursday 11th March at 4pm GMT | 11am EST. Find out more or register here.