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Monetizing virtual events: There are "riches in the niches”

VEI hosted a roundtable on ‘Monetizing Virtual Events’ this week with Sophie Ahmed, CEO of VEI; RD Whitney, VEI director; and Emma Hilditch, content director of VEI.

Speaking at VII Events’ A2Z Virtual 2021, Whitney advised the online audience to find “riches in the niches” of their event communities.


“Find those niches and monetize them because there's a real interest,” he said. Provide “tools and resources they can’t live without’ and content that isn’t only ‘nice’ to have, but ‘need’ to have, such as information and resources that help people do better in their jobs and careers, and helps companies to advance.


Questions from the virtual audience centred around monetization models and pricing, which Ahmed addressed. “We've come off many years of conditioning that things online are free. Why should the organizer charge? It comes down to value and perceived value because there is a lot of noise in the virtual events space.


“Also, if you offer your event for free, how do you move to charging further down the line? If you host a hybrid event in the future, how do you incentivize participants to attend in-person if others are getting it for free online?”


Ahmed went on to explain that some organisations are offering virtual events for free as a lead gen exercise or to position their brand, but for organisations where the event is a major revenue generator she recommended a tiered ticketing model as a solution.


“This could start with a free basic entry ticket. For the middle tier delegate price, we are seeing organisations charge $30-50 on average for access and on-demand content afterwards, but pricing depends on a number of factors, such as how big the event is, how many people are attending and its value proposition.”


"Be disruptive"


To conclude the session, Whitney urged the audience to “be disruptive”. He said: “The pandemic, and the industry’s reaction to it with virtual events, has unleashed our ability to try new things and do new things virtually – with low risk.


“Be disruptive. If you are a subject matter expert, this is your chance to explore that micro niche and develop a community.


"If you're an established player, this is the time to take risks with your brand and try new formats – and not the time to be complacent.


"Don't define yourself as a single element or one format. Explore a range of formats to create a community and be disruptive.”

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