In an extract from their new book, Ben Chodor and Gabriella Cyranski reveal five myths about virtual and hybrid events.
This is an extract from 'Transitioning to Virtual and Hybrid Events' by Ben Chodor, president of Intrado – Digital Media, and Gabriella Cyranski, director of virtual event consulting, also at Intrado.
In the early days of the internet, online events and webinars were a small part of the events business and, quite honestly, an afterthought for event planners and conference planners.
Cutting-edge advancements in video, audio, and integrated communication technologies have made it possible to do much more online. Gone are the days when companies were forced to deal with bulky unintuitive webinar programs that produce poor quality video or choppy, broken audio. Webcasting technology that unites high-quality crystal clear audio and video, PowerPoint, live chat, and Q&A into a single streamlined interface has removed technical technological barriers for large and small businesses. Now all you need is a strong internet connection, and you can deliver a TV-style broadcast right from your home.
With all these advancements, there was still a lot of resistance and uneasiness because of the misconceptions around virtual events.
Before we go any further, I want to take you through all the myths you're going to hear and tell you exactly why they are not based on fact.
Myth #1: My virtual or hybrid event will cannibalize my physical attendance event
Reality: A good friend of mine puts it like this. Every year, there are about 70,000 total tickets to the super bowl. If I don't get a ticket, does that mean I'm not going to watch? Of course not; I'll watch, but it will just be a different experience and usually a cheaper one.
The reality doesn't support the cannibalization myth, but instead, it shows how you should be thinking about the bigger picture. If you only offer an option to attend a physical event, you're leaving out a large segment of your prospect universe that won't get to see any of that content or engage with any of those attendees. You're missing an opportunity to extend your reach to a global audience that you were never in front of before.
For those determined to attend the physical event, your repeat customers, they fight each year for the travel and budget approval to see customers and partners face to face. And they're not going to give that up.
Myth #2: It can't be monetized and I'll lose my sponsor and attendee revenue streams
Reality: Any good virtual event platform will have the option for you to collect attendee registration fees. Plus there are a number of customizable elements that can be monetized for exhibitors and sponsors to provide visibility, thought leadership opportunities, and custom messaging throughout the event experience. If it's customizable, it's monetizable.
Myth #3: It's not interactive; People will just be watching presentations
Reality: This couldn't be further from the truth. A virtual environment offers participants the option to participate in live polls during the session. Based on those poll results, the speaker can pivot within the presentation to put more emphasis on areas of the topic attendees said they want to hear about. Attendees can also take advantage of live chat, video chats, and Q&A. I've seen chat threads get really lively with people making connections, answering questions for one another, and offering their expertise on their topic. And lastly, you're able to pose questions directly to the speaker and get those answered in real-time.
Myth #4: People won't stay as long for a virtual session as they would for an in-person session
Reality: It is just as easy to walk out of a physical session, or not even show up to the meeting, as it is to click out of a virtual event. I would argue that there are more distractions at a physical meeting where most are located in cities with great climates and an abundance of leisure activities. When you click out of a virtual event, you're right back where you started from, at your desk.
Plus in a virtual environment, we can measure how long people stay within a session with more accuracy than a badge swipe. So we can confidently tell you which sessions are the most popular
Myth #5: I'll only get limited reporting
Reality: This one is always a bit of a shock to me because within a virtual environment, like everything we do online, there is always activity data being collected. Any virtual event platform that you choose should be able to provide you with enough data for marketing to develop a lead scoring model, for sponsors to know who visited their booths and what assets were downloaded, and for your executive leadership to be confident that the exact audience they targeted actually attended.
Join Ben and Gabriella in conversation with Sophie Ahmed, CEO and co-founder of VEI, to discuss their book: 'Transitioning to Virtual and Hybrid Event: How to Create, Adapt and Market an Engaging Online Experience.
When? Thursday 10th June at 4-5pm BST (GMT+1) / 11am ET. Register here.
You may also be interested in registering for VEI's next strategic summit event here:
When? 17 June 4pm BST (GMT+1)/ 11am ET.