A virtual event is an event which brings attendees together to interact in a digital format. It usually takes place exclusively online, such as a virtual conference, virtual congress, virtual exhibition, virtual trade show, or virtual networking event, but can be combined with an in-person event to create a hybrid delegate platform.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced more people to virtual networking, typically over video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Facebook Live, or Microsoft Teams, but the next generation of virtual events create dedicated virtual environments that harness 3D virtual exhibition software to virtually render a physical arena. This allows users to depict themselves as a digital avatar, and to interact with and traverse the space virtually, in almost the same way they would in real life.
How are virtual events hosted?
The most basic form of virtual event will be held by video conferencing or webinar software attached to a scheduling system. Attendees will sign up to a single session or series of events, signing in to “attend” via video. Newly emerging platforms, including 3D virtual exhibition software go one step further, recreating a physical space into a digital environment, or creating a virtual environment in a platform such as the Metaverse.
What are the benefits of virtual events?
One of the core benefits of a virtual event space is that they reduce many of the traditional restrictions of in-person, physical events. Things such as location, capacity, layout, infrastructure, and logistics are all omitted from virtual events, and virtual exhibitions can:
- Expand your audience: without travel time and costs, or geographic restrictions, your virtual event has the potential to take your brand global. What’s more, there are no health and safety or crowd concerns online, so you can use the virtual version to increase your capacity.
- Support inclusivity: there is a common misconception that virtual events detract from in-person events, discouraging delegates from attending the full event, or gaining the full experience. In fact, there is little evidence that it will impact attendance negatively, and it will make it more inclusive, supporting delegates to attend despite financial restrictions, health challenges or disability, or time restrictions. Evidence shows that the virtual portion of hybrid events can also encourage those delegates that were “on the fence”, to attend virtually for their first year, and commit to in-person spend the following year. For example, a pharmaceutical event hosted online on the Gravit8 Virtual Event Platform experienced a 500% uplift in delegates, and 60% increase in delegates from South America. Similarly, studies have highlighted that on average 45% of overall delegates attend specifically because the event was online, and 87% of delegates want online/hybrid formats to continue.
- Deliver longevity: virtual formats mean that your event is already set up to take advantage of digital tools, allowing you to turn seminars, workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and any live content into an evergreen digital format. Some organisers choose to provide this content for free for any delegate, while others capitalise on the opportunity with chargeable “annual passes” that allow delegates to access content for a specific time-period after attending.
- Saving money: typically, virtual events cost about 5% of the total cost of an in-person event, which for many provides an incentive to start or trial new events, offer a new or unique experience, or extend their physical offering into a hybrid-digital format.
- Simpler logistics: as well as removing the logistical implications of building an exhibition, it reduces the time pressure by extending the preparation window. Rather than just a few vacant days in an exhibition hall, you’ll be free to work with exhibitors to build your platform and exhibition stands over the course of weeks or months.
- Broader speaker portfolio: by removing geographic boundaries, it can also remove time restrictions, supporting organisers to access speakers, Chairs, and panel guests in real time that could otherwise not afford the travel time.
- 365-day access: we’re all conditioned to virtual exhibitions and events that happen over just a few days, but what if you could run an event that happens 365 days a year? 3D virtual event software doesn’t have the same physical limitations of an exhibition hall, which means you can create a fully branded, fully sponsored, multi-use virtual space, and leave it available all year round. This gives you the ultimate flexibility to do whatever you want with your event, whenever and however you like.
- Effective data collection: as an event organiser, your delegates likely have to pre-register, giving you access to their information, but your exhibitors don’t have the same opportunity. They rely on delegates opting in, giving them a small proportion of the delegates who visit the stand. While you must remain data privacy compliant, virtual events provide an intense and effective channel for data capture, putting you more in control of how, where and with whom you share the data, and how your exhibitors can access it. This also gives you an upsell opportunity too.
- Sustainability and ESG commitments: the value of virtual exhibitions and virtual congress are that you can expand your audience without increasing the carbon footprint of your event, potentially even reducing the carbon footprint too. Scope 3 carbon measures include the travel, transport and carbon emissions from your delegates, so moving to virtual or hybrid events can stabilise, or even reduce the number of delegates travelling, and therefore the carbon cost of your event. This supports businesses to make their sustainability and ESG pledges.
How much does a virtual event cost?
Virtual events vary in cost depending on platform, complexity, and features. The Gravit8 Virtual Event Platform starts from £30,000 for a multi exhibitor event with fully brand tailored booths and live staffing.
Virtual events: supported by Gravit8
Gravit8 are market-leaders in exhibition tech and engagement software that boosts the quality and commercial value of your exhibitions. Our 3D Virtual Event Software can be used to create virtual congresses and virtual exhibitions that you can design yourself, or we provide a custom platform service to fully tailor your experience. Speak to our team today on 0808 164 2323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.