Virtual Events vs In-Person Events
Virtual events have exploded in popularity – and for good reason. They offer a handful of unique strategic benefits to event organizers and sponsors that can help them achieve their key performance objectives and increase their ROI. Many people treat virtual events as a placeholder or add-on to their in-person events, but they can stand on their own.
Virtual events aren’t an exact replica of in-person events – and they aren’t meant to be. Instead, virtual events are a distinct form of events that offer their own strategy benefits and unique content, networking, and sponsorship opportunities.
Content is one of the core pillars of an event – regardless of whether you’re hosting your event in-person, virtually, or taking a hybrid approach. Choosing engaging speakers to deliver motivating, educational, or exciting content will help you leave a lasting impact on your event attendees.
With in-person events, your event content will be delivered live to an in-person audience. This creates a lively atmosphere. And overall, it tends to be easier to keep people engaged in a live in-person session format.
With virtual events, you have a number of content delivery methods at your disposal. Virtual events can still have live-streamed virtual sessions. Many people enjoy the excitement of tuning in live and interacting with the speaker and fellow viewers in real time. A simulive approach can also be taken to maintain the live interaction while also allowing the speaker more time to prepare and pre-record their content.
Making virtual event content available for on demand viewing also presents some notable strategic benefits. For one, on demand viewing can help you expand the reach of your content. People that missed the initial session due to time conflicts can still enjoy your content and learn from it. On demand content also allows event organizers to provide greater value to attendees. 76% of virtual event attendees report that they go back to access event content after the event has ended. The ability to revisit content for a refresher or additional review makes the content more valuable and memorable to attendees.
The venue that you select has a major impact on your in-person event. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting the right venue such as parking and proximity to public transportation stops, capacity, cleanliness and aesthetic, and whether necessary seating and equipment will be provided.
You may not have a physical venue for a virtual event, but it’s still important to select the right virtual venue – aka the right virtual event platform. Though, you can always go the hybrid route and have both venue types!
Look for a virtual event platform that is accessible, supports a variety of networking options, has key security features, and provides rich data insights throughout the event – such as Social27 Virtual Event Platform. The virtual event platform that you choose will act as the venue by housing sponsor and exhibition booths, session pages, the networking lounge, and more.
Sponsors at in-person events spend the majority of their time flagging down attendees and bringing them over to their exhibition booth. Sponsoring an in-person event is a great way to physically get your salespeople and your products in front of attendees to make a great first impression.
Sponsoring a virtual event can also get you in front of a new audience. They actually even provide greater opportunities for sponsors to connect with attendees in meaningful ways. Sponsors can leverage pre-event virtual content to encourage attendees to learn about their company and sign up for demos or meetings before the event even begins.
Exposing booth visitors to sponsored content prior to their initial interaction with a booth representative or salesperson lets them come to that interaction prepared with more valuable questions and a clearer interest in the sponsor’s products or services. Sponsors can move prospects through the buying journey more quickly due to this. They can also incorporate multiple touchpoints throughout the virtual event to create a greater impact and grow their lead pipeline.
Speaking at Virtual Events vs. In-Person
At an in-person event the content is delivered live. The keynote speakers and panelists speak on stage directly to a live crowd. A skilled speaker can make this an incredibly engaging high-energy experience. The reach of the session will depend on how many people are in attendance at the time; a speaker may deliver a session to a packed auditorium or a small group.
Speaking at virtual events vs in-person events is a bit different. The speaker can pre-record their content for on-demand viewing, livestream their speaking engagement, or pre-record their content but stream it at a set time in a simulive session where they can still engage with the attendees in real-time via chat throughout the event.
Speakers do need to be a bit more purposeful with audience engagement when addressing audiences virtually. Incorporating Q&As, polls, and keeping the chat active during sessions are great ways to keep viewers engaged.
In-person events are great for face-to-face interactions. There is a certain excitement in talking to new people sitting next to you in a session, in the hallways, and during lunch. There’s a lot of opportunities to make formal and casual connections throughout the event while wandering around the event center in-person.
It’s a common misconception that virtual events do not provide meaningful networking opportunities. There are a number of ways to create networking opportunities at virtual events. Virtual events can incorporate a range of networking activities and communication channels in order to best suit the different individual preferences of attendees.
For example, Social27 Virtual Event Platform offers several features that event owners can use to incorporate networking into their events:
- Happy Hours: Attendees can join a specialized Happy Hour session or ongoing group chat during an event to connect with up-to 49 other users.
- User-Generated Videos: Attendees can create short Hello World! videos to introduce themselves and help other attendees put a face to the names. Soapbox videos are also supported on the platform. These are 30-second videos meant to share thoughts or opinions and spark discussion between attendees.
- Recommended Connections: Attendees can search the Attendee Directory to find other attendees to connect with. Recommended connections are shown first, making it easy to find people with common interests.
- Video Calls: Attendees can join Roundtables or Boardrooms to connect face-to-face in video calls to network, discuss sessions, view product demos, and more. Attendees, sponsors, and speakers can all start and host Roundtables or Boardrooms.
Virtual Events Vs In-Person Events Cost
The costs of hosting an in-person event can add up quickly. Organizers need to secure a venue, pay for catering and catering staff, rent equipment or chairs, and potentially cover travel and hotel costs for key speakers.
You can definitely lower your expenses with a virtual event, though they do generally still require some investment. The main investment for a virtual event is in the platform technology. Having the right technology makes a huge difference in the attendee experience. The last thing you want to hear from your attendees, speakers, or sponsors is that the platform was hard to navigate or that the sound or video quality was poor. To learn more about how the right technology can enhance your event, set up a demo to learn about Social27 Virtual Event Platform.
When you host an in-person event you’ll have some general registration data, and you can perhaps extract extra data after the event by sending out a survey. However, the majority of the data will be qualitative in nature, such as observations and feedback from speakers and sponsors. It can be hard to quantify in-person interactions and track exact attendance numbers for each in-person session or activity.
Virtual events provide detailed quantitative data on how attendees interact with sponsors, event content, and each other. On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, event organizers can give sponsors access to insights on their booth content, interactions, and form fills in real-time with the ability to appropriately connect with high propensity leads based on their engagement with sponsor content. The event owners can also use this data and more insights to evaluate the success of their event and adjust their event strategy.
Dive into Virtual Events with Social27
Social27 Virtual Event Platform has all the features event owners need to build a distinctive and memorable virtual event to achieve their strategy objectives.
Set up a demo today to learn more about what Social27 has to offer.