In August I published an article entitled “Hybrid Events — Whats All the Buzz?” Interestingly that article generated more interest than any I have written since I started this blog in April. The concept of incorporating Hybrid events into conferences is gaining a lot of traction across the Meetings and Events industry.
In the right context adding virtual components to Face2Face Meetings yields value to all concerned. Unfortunately the formula for monetizing that “added value” is not certain. I have studied this issue extensively and had numerous conversations with social media colleagues. From those discussions here is some insight regarding what to consider when adding virtual components to your events:
- What are your objectives? — This is a really important question to address prior to developing a revenue model. Some of the reasons for adding virtual components are —
- Portions of desired audience are geographically challenged and not able to attend event face2face.
- Some potential attendees do not have the financial resources to attend the event (registration fees, travel expense, etc.)
- The organization wants to extend the reach of the event to other regions (domestic or International) and develop new, but unfamiliar markets.
- The meeting is internal and face2face interaction is not critical to a successful outcome… company seeking to save expense.
- Nature of the event, or content lends itself to a virtual component.
- Does the event have unique content? — Event professionals should evaluate whether the content being delivered at their event is unique and compelling. This is especially important because virtual attendees will not benefit from the other typical elements of a live face2face experience. (i.e. Networking, socializing) With so many educational opportunities available in cyberspace at “no charge” attendees will most likely not be willing to pay a fee for virtual access to a session, unless the material is not widely available elsewhere.
- Are there typically Event Sponsors? — If your organization’s meeting typically has a sponsor(s) then you may have a strong value proposition for them to financially support the event. When properly promoted Hybrid meetings consistently extend the marketing reach of an event for an organization. The subsequent additional “leads” generated by the virtual component clearly provide additional measurable ROI for event sponsors.
- Survey Your Attendee-base — I highly recommend sending your potential participants a brief survey, to allow them to weigh in on what price point they are willing to pay for virtual participation. Doing this will at least give you an idea of the sensitivity level of this issue within your community.
The real struggle is to determine what fee, if any, to charge virtual attendees for an event. In my book the road to success with most virtual events is paved by funding them with sponsorships. If acquiring sufficient sponsorship dollars to recover your event costs is a challenge, then a compromise may be to charge a slight fee to attendees, in addition to the sponsorships obtained, to manage the expense.
If your organization is in the fortunate situation of owning and providing content that is truly cutting-edge and value-rich, then you may have a strong case for collecting a significant fee from attendees.
Question — Has your organization developed a successful pricing model for its virtual event services? In your experience what did not work well? We would love to hear about your experiences!!