Adding a virtual event to an existing physical event (called a Hybrid event), can be a scary proposition the first time around. At the Streaming Network, we often find ourselves presenting our services to traditional event planners who have been struggling to reach attendees due to the overall state of the global economy. Reductions in corporate travel budgets and other cost cutting measures means we’re asked one question more than most:
Will adding a virtual event cannibalize my physical event attendance?
Honestly, the answer to this question depends on your audience demographics and the particulars about your event. That said, in 2011 the second Hybrid Event study conducted by ROI for Engagement and the Virtual Edge Institute found that when virtual attendees of hybrid events were asked: “If there had been no virtual option, would you have attended in person?” 93% of those polled answered NO. The accessibility of a virtual event can actually increase your audience by bringing in viewers who would not have been able to attend an exclusively physical event.
Who are these new audience members who will attend your virtual event?
Many of them are not new at all, they are the people who subscribe to your newsletter or e-blasts, or visit your website but aren’t located near you. Others are past attendees of previous events who failed to return for logistical or monetary reasons, but have still maintained interest in your content. Even more are of a younger generation, who have become more accustom to, and prefer, to engage online.
The rest are new territory who come through referrals from other registrants or invitees, with as much as 22% of virtual attendees finding out about events via social networks.
Additional benefits to going virtual:
- 18% of virtual attendees said after attending virtually, they would consider attending in person the following year
- Virtual events allow you reach out to secondary markets for attendees (i.e. international audiences or less invested verticals)
- All virtual events have an online archive for a minimum of 90 days, allowing your content to continue to be accessible past the live date (24% of all registrants for free virtual events attend the archive and not the live event!)
The most compelling reason to plan a virtual component? Price.
The cost of putting on a traditional event with travel, food, hotel rentals and guest speakers can be significant. The aggregate cost of adding a virtual component can actually increase your ROI, and lower your cost per head through virtual viewership. When considering a virtual event, factoring in your potential (virtual) audience can drop costs per attendee by as much as 75%.
To download the white paper Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event and other great thought leadership on the virtual events industry visit www.virtualedge.org
And you can check out this infographic for more insights into Virtual Event/Physical Event trends…