The Benefits of Virtual Events For Our Environment, Your Budget and Event ROI

The Ugly Truth About In-Person or On-Site Events 

Environmental Impact 

You may not be surprised that I hate waste and the damage it causes to our environment. In-person events generate a significant carbon footprint due to travel and energy consumption, and yes, they create significant waste. As more people become conscious of their environmental impact, they may question the necessity of travelling long distances to attend events. It's time for event planners to focus on the environmental impact of meetings and events as usual.

Shockingly, an average of 1115 Metric tonnes of waste is generated per venue, as reported in 2017's Green Venue Report. The construction industry only surpasses the event industry in the amount of waste it generates.

Trade Show Waste

Increasing Costs

Hosting an in-person meeting or event can involve significant expenses, such as venue rental, catering, staffing, travel, lodging, and promotional materials. These costs can add up quickly and may not always be feasible or worthwhile.

Participating in a single event can easily incur a five-figure cost when you factor in expenses like renting space, displays, printed materials, giveaways, lodging, and travel. Moreover, there's usually a missed opportunity cost of being away from the office during the event. You're risking a significant investment if you multiply this by several events yearly. 

Business owners and managers closely monitor expenses and demand accountability from their teams. 

Diminishing ROI

While a great show can generate substantial traffic and exposure, people forget your key messages as they wander the aisles. They might not even recall your brand once they leave the show floor. 

Expensive badge scanning systems merely collect attendees' badge information and produce a list at the show's end. Unfortunately, these systems only work if someone agrees to let you scan their badge. Many attendees find this practice intrusive, and fewer allow themselves to be scanned, making lead retrieval less than optimal. Ultimately, only a fraction of these leads is qualified, segmented, or sales-ready, resulting in even more expenses for post-show follow-up.

After attending an exhibition, exhibitors often return to their office and become so preoccupied catching up on work that they fail to follow up with leads properly. As a result, potential business opportunities may be missed, and leads may become uninterested. 

Limited Reach & Inclusivity

Despite the potential advantages of bringing people together physically, in-person events can also have limited audience size and diversity reach. Not everyone can travel to a particular location or afford to attend the event, which might not attract a diverse range of attendees. Event attendance suffers, as does inclusivity.

Logistics 

Planning and executing can be complex and time-consuming for event organizers, involving various tasks like designing the program, coordinating speakers, arranging transportation, setting up equipment, and managing attendee registration and safety. If any of these aspects go wrong, they can adversely affect the attendee experience. 

Health and Safety

In-person or on-site events can pose health and safety risks, such as spreading contagious diseases, accidents, or security threats. The recent pandemic has significantly affected the viability of hosting large gatherings in many countries. Overall, in-person or on-site events can offer valuable networking opportunities, learning, and engaging with others. Still, they also come with various challenges and limitations that organizers and attendees need to consider. As virtual and hybrid event formats become more prevalent and sophisticated, we may see a shift in how events are designed and delivered. 

Hand holding windmills and green trees

The Benefits of a Virtual Event for Your Next Conference or Trade Show

Why are hybrid & virtual events better for your budget, your marketing, and our planet, even in a post-pandemic world:

Reduced Carbon Emissions and Physical Waste

Virtual events have become the go-to option for sustainability for these six reasons:


Less Travel: One of the benefits of virtual events is the reduction in travel. It's much easier for attendees, speakers, and organizers to attend events virtually from the comfort of their homes. No one needs to travel to a physical location. This significantly reduces the carbon emissions associated with transportation.


No Venue Needed: Virtual gatherings don't require a physical location that in-person events require, which reduces the carbon emissions associated with building and maintaining large event spaces.


No Freight: With virtual events, there's no need to ship materials or products to a physical location. Virtual events eliminate the carbon emissions associated with freight and shipping.

 

Online Materials: Virtual events can also utilize digital materials, eliminating the need for printed materials that require paper production and transportation.


Energy Efficiency: Virtual events are typically more energy-efficient than physical events. Without the need for lighting, heating, air conditioning, and other utilities associated with physical events, virtual events use less energy and reduce carbon emissions.


Virtual events offer a more sustainable option for connecting people and organizations worldwide. By reducing carbon emissions associated with travel, venue production, and material production, they offer a way to limit our environmental impact while still conducting important events and meetings.

 

The advantages of going virtual continue with event costs.

One of the Key Advantages of Virtual Events is That They Cost Less

The benefits of hosting virtual events are many. They generally cost less than a traditional face-to-face event because they require fewer resources, such as event space, travel, and accommodations. This means you can get more bang for your buck and potentially reach a larger audience. Following are six cost savings that choosing a virtual event can deliver:

Reduced venue costs: Virtual conferences eliminate the cost of renting a location, setting up and tearing down equipment, and other related expenses.

Reduced travel costs: Virtual events allow attendees to participate and virtually network from their own location, reducing the need for travel and related expenses such as lodging, meals, and transportation.

Reduced staffing costs: Virtual events tend to require significantly fewer staff members and specialized services than in-person events, which helps to reduce staffing costs.

Reduced marketing costs: Virtual events can be marketed through digital channels at lower costs. Event technology for sponsors and exhibitors can decrease their cost per lead and reduce the duration of their sales cycles, contributing significantly to increased event ROI.

Reduced material costs: Printed materials or physical goods such as t-shirts or gifts are not required for virtual events, which helps reduce material costs.

Reduced food and beverage costs: Virtual events don't require food or beverages, which can save significant expenses on food and beverage costs.

Increased Attendance:

Here are five ways a virtual event can help increase attendance and broaden your audience geographically:

Accessibility: Attending an event is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as there is an internet connection. Attendees do not have to worry about transportation, accommodation, or other travel restrictions. 


Convenience: Anyone can attend the event in the comfort of their home or office, eliminating the need to dress up or prepare. This convenience significantly reduces the barriers to attendance.


Cost: Virtual events are typically cheaper to attend than in-person events, with no travel, accommodation, or meal expenses.


Variety: Virtual events offer various opportunities to attend different events, including conferences, webinars, workshops, and seminars, providing attendees with more options and variety.


Technology: Virtual events leverage innovative technology to create engaging, interactive, and immersive experiences for attendees, keeping them engaged and enhancing the overall event experience and increasing attendance rates.


Flexibility:

Flexibility is a crucial advantage of virtual events. Here are six ways flexibility can make a difference:


Time zone flexibility: Virtual events can be accessed from anywhere in the world, which means that organizers can schedule events at times that are convenient for attendees in different locations or different time zones, allowing attendees more control over their experience


Pre-recorded content: Virtual events can include pre-recorded video content, which means that organizers can schedule sessions to be available on-demand for attendees at any time.


Multiple tracks and Breakout Rooms: Virtual events can feature multiple tracks or rooms, allowing attendees to choose which sessions to attend and which to skip and create their own customized schedule based on their interests. 

On-Demand Content: Virtual events can be loaded with on-demand content pre and post-event. Virtual recordings can be made available minutes after the speaker leaves the stage, ensuring attendees maximize growth and development opportunities.


Customization:
Virtual events can be customized using interactive tools such as polls, surveys, chatbots, and Q&A sessions, which means that attendees can influence the content and scheduling of the event in real-time.


Reduced travel costs: Virtual events save attendees and organizers the money and time they typically spend travelling. That translates to less time out of the office and a lower opportunity cost.


Better Data Collection:


Virtual and hybrid events provide better data collection opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors than traditional in-person events. Here are four areas where virtual events deliver superior analytics:

Increased engagement and attendee insights: Virtual events allow exhibitors and sponsors to track and measure attendees' behaviour and interactions, including time spent on specific sessions, questions asked, and content viewed, engagement with virtual booths, q&a requests, and virtual networking topics, and collect feedback from attendees, allowing them to improve future events and marketing campaigns.


Real-time data capture: Virtual events provide exhibitors with real-time data capture, allowing them to monitor attendance and engagement during the event. This data can be instantly analyzed and optimized for event plans or marketing strategies.


Automated follow-up: collect lead information electronically, eliminating the need for manual data entry. This data can then be automatically transferred into a CRM system, enabling exhibitors and sponsors to follow up with their leads instantly or after the event. This helps you achieve more with less marketing effort.


Comprehensive analytics: Virtual events provide exhibitors and sponsors with comprehensive analytics and reporting, allowing them to analyze data collected during an event to identify improvement areas and refine their brand strategies. 

Better Opportunities to Leverage Content For Promotion & Profit

Online events and virtual meetings offer excellent opportunities to leverage your content at your next event. Here are six ways to make your event hyper-profitable:

Create highlight reels: Create recap videos highlighting your virtual event's best moments. This could include keynote speeches, panel discussions, individual presentations, and attendee feedback.

Live stream replays: Re-live your virtual event by providing on-demand access to the live stream, so anyone who missed it can still participate. You can also cut the streams into shorter clips and share them on social media.

Transcribe your event: Transcribe your virtual event to create written content that can be shared on your website, blog, or social media accounts. This will help to provide valuable content to your followers who may not have been able to attend.

Create a virtual event report: Gather data from your virtual event and create a report summarizing attendance, breakout sessions, and survey responses. Share this report with your network, as it can be helpful for businesses and event organizers in your industry.

Create case studies and eBooks: Use your virtual event content as inspiration to create case studies and eBooks that provide valuable information to your followers. This could be done by studying the key themes and topics discussed during the event.

Host a Q&A on social media: Use the data from your virtual event to host a Q&A session on social media. This will allow attendees to discuss the event and provide feedback for future events.

Broadcast your event: You can live stream your event from your virtual event platform to several social media channels simultaneously, allowing you to reach and engage more people.

By leveraging content from your virtual event, you can provide valuable content to your audience and draw attention to the success of your event.

 

Leverage Your Speaker Budget

An effective plan for virtual events is to make the most of your speaker budget. Instead of spending on travel expenses, accommodation, and food for a single keynote speaker, you can save and utilize the funds to hire an additional virtual keynote speaker. This way, you can either have two prominent speakers for the price of one or a more distinguished speaker than your initial budget allowed for. 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the great benefits of virtual events are much more significant than reducing costs and environmental impact. Virtual or hybrid events can extend your geographical reach, allowing you to connect with people worldwide. If you choose to host a virtual event or summit, you can leverage your speaker budget into more speakers or higher-profile speakers with the same budget. Better analytics can be obtained through virtual or hybrid events to improve your experience. Furthermore, by hosting virtual or hybrid events, you can create more content revenue streams and reduce costs associated with exhibiting at live events, maximizing your return on investment. In short, the benefits of virtual or hybrid events are numerous and should not be ignored. 

As you plan future events, consider going virtual or hybrid. We would love to show you around our carbon-neutral virtual and hybrid event platform. We'll even share some use cases and stats of others who have made a choice for our planet.

About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back, make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted a couple of great customers for life. David has been personally recognized with seven national marketing awards.