The past few years have been financially difficult times for many businesses, but they have also been a time for technological growth and development. For both of these reasons, virtual events like online trade shows and conferences are swiftly rising to prominence, replacing or augmenting offline events. Virtual events are far less costly to organize and are very convenient for participants, regardless of their location. They do have some drawbacks, but for many businesses, especially small to mid-sized companies, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. What are those pros and cons?
The biggest and most obvious benefit to point out is the cost savings of attending or hosting a virtual event instead of a brick-and-mortar event. Think about all the costs associated with trade shows or conferences offline. You have to rent meeting space or pay a fee to put up a booth at an exhibition hall. Your company also has to front the money for hotel costs, transportation, and other work-related expenses for all employees who are traveling to attend the event. And then there are the additional costs associated with putting up your booth. Now imagine being able to eliminate all of those costs. Instead, the only cost is the money you have to front for the virtual event, which will usually run you only a few thousand dollars. Attending a trade show in person? That can easily run you 10 times that.
Less Time Wasted
When you travel to participate in an offline event, that’s valuable time your employees are investing in travel. You have to pay your employees for their time during work hours, and you are wasting their time after hours. That is all time your employees could be using to do something else. Traveling is inconvenient. If you can do all your business from your office (as you can with a virtual event), your employees are free to concentrate their time on other tasks. On this same note, virtual events tend to be faster paced than those in real life since the attendees don’t have to physically move from space to space. So you can actually end up meeting more people at online events than you could at offline events.
Easy Note Taking
When you attend an offline event, you have to come up with a way to record information, which generally comes down to taking notes on your tablet. You don’t have to carry around these supplies or put in this effort with virtual events though. All conversations, whether text- or voice-based, can be recorded and stored indefinitely for all participants to access at any time in the future.
Fast Planning and Set-up
Planning attendance at a trade show offline can be a complicated and challenging prospect, and may take a great deal of time and effort. Just putting up and taking down a booth can be a day’s work in itself. With a virtual event, you can get everything set up and running in a half hour if you are attending, and if you are hosting, you will save even more time overall. Sending out invitations is as easy as providing your attendees with a link, and you don’t have to set up accommodations or make complicated arrangements. There’s no “take down” process afterward for your booth; you simply close up the program and you’re done.
Promote Online for Wider Outreach
You can promote an online event with ease on social media websites and on your company website. What’s great about virtual events is no one has to travel for them, including customers, potential customers, business associates, and others who are located in distant cities or countries. These people can all attend your trade show instantly, just as you can, without leaving their locations. You get a wider outreach this way, and everyone gets to participate. While the conference or trade show is in progress, attendees can continue to spread the word in their social media circles.
When you’re attending an event in person, there is nothing to distract you (assuming you turn your cell phone off and aren’t online on your tablet). The office however is full of distractions, from the phone ringing to the internet being at your fingertips. You have to find a way for attendees to virtual conferences at your office not to be distracted by these local activities.
While the fast-paced nature of online events may help you meet more people, there is also less spontaneity in the virtual world. When you are attending an expo event in person, it is common to just bump into random people—who then may turn out to be interested in your company or products. These people can forge important professional connections with you. You are far less likely to randomly meet people at a virtual event who are not present specifically to talk to you. This can make networking more challenging.
No Business Vacation Element
Some employees view attending events in the offline world as a kind of reward. This is because trip tends to be just that—a trip. Even though they are required to do business on their trip, it can still be seen as a kind of vacation, one where many expenses are being paid by the company in return for attendance at a trade show or conference. It may take a toll on employee morale if these trips are removed. Not all employees view them as an inconvenience. Many look forward to them all year, so you may need to find another way to reward your employees.
With INXPO’s award-winning virtual online platform you now have the ability to reach a global audience, further increasing your event ROI. Enable additional revenue opportunities by allowing access to content even after the curtains have closed, for as long as you’d like. With access to real time reporting you can track and measure the effectiveness of your events and share specific analytics with your key stakeholders including your partners, speakers, and executive sponsors.
To learn more about our virtual online events platform please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 962-3708
Post contributed by Adam Polaszewski