The way we schedule and conduct events changed dramatically due to COVID-19. While the change was sudden, it provided an opportunity for virtual event management platforms to shine center stage.

With the gradual easing of health and safety concerns and the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions, in-person events have made an anticipated comeback. However, does this imply that virtual events are no longer necessary?

While hosting a virtual event was the only option available for many during lockdown, event organizers discovered some key benefits of virtual, such as a wider reach, higher attendance, time savings, and lower costs. They also learned how hosting a hybrid event, with a virtual component, essentially offers event organizers and attendees the best of both worlds.

Is planning a virtual event worth the effort? We think so! Especially when it’s used as an engaging component of your physical events, giving people who can’t make it in person the option to tune in remotely.

5 top benefits of virtual events

Once event planners discover the benefits of hosting virtual meetings and events with the right event technology tool, it’s often hard to return to a fully in-person event mentality.

With an in-person live event, organizers spend so much time focusing on the logistics, venues, and accommodations that they can lose sight of providing engaging and interactive content. A virtual event platform helps them save time, more people can attend, and sponsors often garner a better ROI. And those are just a few of the benefits of an online event!

Still unsure about hosting a virtual event of your own? Below we break down the five top advantages of hosting virtual events.

1. Targets a wider audience

Event planners often measure success by the number of people who sign up to attend their event. Virtual events allow attendees to register to participate in online events, helping to break down any scheduling challenges or geographical barriers and increase attendance numbers.

With no travel involved for some, wider access to your virtual conference means more inclusively, diversity, and new ideas. Make your virtual event sessions and materials available on demand, and watch your attendee count soar.

2. Sponsors and exhibitors gain more value

While networking opportunities may seem challenging in a virtual format, it provides more benefits to sponsors than you might think.

Since the interaction usually happens one-on-one with the attendee, either through an event platform or via social media, sponsors tend to interact more effectively when engaging virtually. In a big exhibition hall with hundreds of people in attendance, it can be difficult to establish as many solid connections as you’d like.

3. Lead retrieval is made easy

It’s difficult for trade show exhibitors to network, keep their leads organized, and quickly follow up after the event ends.

Utilizing lead retrieval technology allows exhibitors and organizers to seamlessly capture registrants’ info directly from their event badge. They can track registrations, see who participated in online events, and extend networking opportunities.

From connecting attendees to virtual event communities at your event to creating your own community afterward, sponsors gain valuable data to entice new customers.

4. Measure virtual event success with quantifiable data 

Close-up Of A Businesswoman's Hand Analyzing Graph On Laptop At Workplace

So, beyond the registrations, how do you measure success for an in-person event? While you may have hung your banner in the exhibition hall, can you really measure how many people took notice?

Running a virtual event provides more robust metrics and quantifiable data, such as real-time user activity logs, numbers of participants joining virtual sessions, and who downloaded apps, engaged in chats, or completed surveys and polls. You can even analyze heat maps of the most visited areas of your platform or the most consumed content — allowing for data-informed future events

5. Convenient tune-in, wider engagement

We all know how hard it can be to find time in our busy schedules to attend important industry events and conferences, so attendees love it when event content is accessible from anywhere, at any time.

Simulive and Video on Demand give attendees and sponsors the value and flexibility they’re looking for in events. Want the look and feel of a live stream without streaming in real time? Simulive lets you do just that! Video on demand is pre-recorded video that’s available at any time, so even if attendees duck out of a session for a snack break, they can watch the video at a later time.

Virtual events are here to stay, even if the future is hybrid

Virtual events have their place, but hybrid experiences are on trend. In fact, our State of the Events Industry Snapshot report, created in partnership with Event Marketer, found that 63% of event marketers use a virtual platform for hybrid experiences attached to in-person events. Event organizers realize the significance of incorporating hybrid events for the purpose of increasing engagement, enhancing the attendee experience, and including more ways for both sponsors and attendees to participate.

As we apply the lessons learned from recent years and expand our reach with accessible virtual elements, it’s clear that virtual events are here to stay. They help event organizers optimize budgets, attract more attendees, and deliver a better ROI.

How Webex Events works to support your virtual event

The Webex Events end-to-end event management platform makes virtual event planning simple, fast, and easy. Here’s what you can expect in terms of Webex Events support for your next event:

  • Automate registration and customize the attendee journey.
  • Offer unique sponsorship opportunities to maximize exposure.
  • Engage in-person and virtual participants alike with live interaction and fun challenges.
  • Provide immersive brand experiences.
  • Customize your branded virtual platform or mobile event app.
  • Modernize networking with state-of-the-art video rooms.
  • Measure event ROI and gather critical performance data in real-time and post-event.
  • Enable deeper connections with post-event community building.
  • Get ahead of your planning with dedicated professional services.
  • And more!