10 benefits of hosting a digital (or part digital) event

Joe Taylor
Joe Taylor
3d render of two spheres overlapping in a green environment

Not only did Covid-19 affect our economy, health and personal lives, it also fundamentally challenged the way brands marketed themselves, both during the pandemic and post-pandemic too. Take events, conferences and exhibitions. When Covid took hold, no-one had any idea how long it would last, to what extent events would be postponed or cancelled, or what impact this would all have on the wider business.

A couple of years on though, there is no doubt that the events industry has been incredibly resilient. And though our human need to interact face-to-face will always be prevalent, we believe that the impact of Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way the events industry works forever. Put simply, it gave the events industry the opportunity to innovate way beyond its current form and demonstrate digital excellence that is far superior to how it was pre-pandemic.

This presents a unique opportunity to those who are willing to be brave and try new things in the virtual events space.

This presents a unique opportunity to those who are willing to be brave and try new things in the virtual events space. Here are 10 benefits of creating a standalone digital event, or adding a virtual element to an in-person event:

Invite a global audience

With virtual events, you don’t need to worry whether people will travel nor are you constrained to only inviting an audience in a certain location. You do need to know who and where your core audience is to ensure that you’re creating an event at a time that suits them, but the accessibility that a virtual event offers is endless. Attendees can join from across the globe if relevant and it’s an opportune way of networking with those farther afield.

Content is king

A virtual event platform isn’t just a way of hosting the event online; it can be a host for content, a vehicle for collaboration or a networking platform too. There are many opportunities to make sure your event offers a broad event experience, from breakout rooms and instant messaging to a destination for relevant articles, podcasts or videos.

Fulfilling green credentials

If brands truly want to innovate and demonstrate their CSR / ESG and sustainability values, then virtual events need to be a key consideration. When hosting a physical event, not only does the event team need to consider the logistics of getting people to the venue, but they will also need to factor in the amount of food wasted, rubbish cleared and the energy required to run that event. According to a study by Birmingham University, a one day physical event can produce up to 170kg of CO2 and create up to five tonnes of refuse waste. Through the use of virtual events, not only can brands commit to a reduced carbon footprint in terms of delegate travel, but delegates can feel assured that they are also doing their bit which is of course a big driver in our purpose-led world today.

Photo of a VR headset

Technology game changers

If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that there are huge benefits to streaming, VR and online collaboration when it comes to running events. Covid-19 accelerated the use of technology as enhancements and added value to live event programmes, which ensures that brands can put on truly innovative and game changing events.

An extension of the brand

One of the key pieces of feedback we’ve had from clients and attendees to our platforms, is that an event needs to feel like an extension of their offering. Many off the shelf platforms can be fairly limited when it comes to customisation. But it’s so important that attendees immediately know whose platform they are on and can feel the brand’s ethos though every touchpoint. Ultimately it needs to evoke all the same feelings to them as all of the other branded experiences that organisation offers. This in turn makes the event feel more considered, refined and ensures it is compelling for all involved.

Bespoke wins out

Never before has there been a greater need to make sure an event is bespoke so that those who attend will receive a truly unique experience. With so many brands bartering for our attention, it’s clear that the key to winning is to offer something different. This means an event that it truly customised. Building an event platform from the ground up means that anything is possible and that it can be built around both the brand and what the attendees want.

Tracking and data

Unlike a physical event, it’s possible to track so many more metrics when an event is digital. And the benefit from all this data is that when the event team come to organising the next, not only are they far more informed, but it gives them a great basis to build upon for the future. It will also keep both the sales and exec team extremely happy too as they can be presented with a more robust, quantitative and data driven report proving return on investment.

A scalable repurposable platform

With virtual events here to stay, investing in a custom solution that can grow and develop alongside the brand can achieve greater brand awareness long term. Don’t think of this as a one-off; think about this as building the foundations to make virtual events a core part of what you do moving forward.

Greater security

As ever, there are a number of options out there from a security point of view when it comes to online events. This ranges from the registration and sign on process to password creation, two factor authentication and locking down an IP. Making sure security is front of mind is key, especially in our GDPR-aware world.

Technology set-up

Servers and hosting are driven by the number of attendees. More attendees require different server set ups / load balancing as no one wants anything to crash or streams / chat functions to run slow. If there are multiple events planned, there is also the ability to dial up the servers ahead of the event and dial them back down afterwards, making it as cost efficient as possible.

Some brands embraced change during this time and found a solution to the unknown, including Virgin Racing, who needed to find a virtual alternative for their track-side experience and Leaders in Sport, who needed an alternative to its flagship conference that was due to host over 2,000 senior sporting executives in New York.

Those brands who are willing to think outside the box when it comes to delivering virtual events, and indeed think longer term, could be at a competitive advantage. Delivering an event virtually needs to be the norm. Retooling, replanning and taking a more considered approach to delivering virtual events longer term could in fact be a game changer.