MPI(Meeting Professionals International) is holding their WEC (World Education Congress) in Salt Lake City this week. This conference is one of the premier events in the Meetings business.
As you may know MPI is offering a fee-based Virtual Access Pass (VAP) to its events for this conference. There are two versions, a full pass to members, for all events, for $299 ($399 nonmembers) or the Opening General Session only for $19 ($59 nonmembers).
There has been an ongoing debate in cyberspace amongst Events Professionals regarding the timing and appropriateness of the MPI VAP pricing model. For a solid recap of the relevant discussions visit Jeff Hurt’s Blog… there are several articles (and other resources referenced) there addressing this topic.
Moving forward what is the best strategy for a “pricing model” integrating Virtual Events into a conference? First, Lets review some facts:
- By all accounts our world is in the middle of a deep economic recession. Most people and organizations are watching their expenses closely.
- In many businesses travel and events budgets have been cut, making it difficult for some business people to attend Face2Face conferences and meetings.
- Delivery of education is no longer controlled exclusively by Associations, Institutions and Large Companies. Thanks to Social Media high quality “low cost” (or free) educational content is widely available across the Internet.
- Many organizations are currently offering Face2Face conferences and educational content funded (either completely or significantly) by sponsorships, rather than traditional registration fees. They are also making their sessions available “Virtually” using live video streaming technology. This has created a significantly expanded marketing reach for their event and its sponsors.
Folks, I believe the “writing is on the wall.” If your organization holds meetings and events it must change its business model to remain viable. In a tough economy, with less dollars to spend, and more competitive educational choices than ever (often at no charge) customers will look elsewhere, if their educational needs are not met through you.
Attendance may be down at your Face2Face meetings, but at some point the economy will bounce back and as long as your events are relevant they will too. “Virtual Education” content should be utilized as a “cutting edge” business tool to provide added value to the customer experience. Delivering it for free or at a low registration fee, funded by sponsorships seems to be a winning formula.
If your organization embraces this strategy your sponsors will appreciate the increased marketing reach it generates! Most importantly your customers will sense you are looking out for their best interests and in return they will reward you with loyalty to your brand.
Please take a moment, if you haven’t already, to participate in the Opinion Poll located on the right side of this page. Your input is much appreciated! Do you have a winning formula for success with Virtual Events? Please take a moment to share it with us!