We're seeing more and more event planners turn to virtual events as a means of maintaining a market presence and supporting their customers in any way they can. Whilst virtual events should, in theory, be cheaper than live events, the innovative technology can sometimes come with a hefty price tag.
At Hire Space, we're all about fitting your brief and giving you the best advice possible, while saving you some serious dollar in the process. In this piece, we share some top tips from our virtual event experts on how to create your dream virtual conference at your dream price, whatever your budget.
If you'd like some guidance from one of our virtual event experts, book a free consultation with our team and we'll be happy to guide you. You can also have a read of our piece on 10 Simple Steps To Planning a Virtual Event if you don't know where to start!
Table of Contents
Determine Your Objectives And Budget
The first step to any event is understanding exactly what you want to achieve from it and how much you can spend to pull it off. Understandably, the virtual world of events is an entirely new domain to explore for some event professionals so setting a budget and objectives may be a stab in the dark.
Looking to maximise revenue? If ROI is top of mind for your event, then consider reading our piece on 'How to Monetise Your Virtual Events'.
Keen to engage and grow your community? Check out our piece on 'How to Adapt And Grow Your Audience With Virtual Events'. Virtual Events allow you to reach a much larger audience than a traditional event with a much smaller budget.
Or is it lead generation you're after? Make sure the content is highly relevant for your prospects and you choose the right tech solution to showcase your product/service. And make a plan to repurpose the event content post-event to extend the shelf life of your event.
And, of course, make sure your objectives & goals are S.M.A.R.T - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Decide On Your Format
Designing an event format that keeps the audience engaged consistently throughout can be difficult in the virtual space where we are vying for our audiences attention against social media, emails and phones. Creating a platform that includes a mixture of sessions and breakout spaces, on-demand content exclusive for event attendees, fun breakout activities and networking opportunities will really set your event part from the rest and keep the audience engaged throughout.
- Some virtual event platforms are a lot more sophisticated than others, so if you're looking to plan a really simple webinar format or roundtable meeting, a basic platform may be all you need.
- If you're looking to plan a more complicated conference or exhibition which requires breakout rooms and/or networking, you will need a more sophisticated (and probably more expensive) platform for this.
- Just like how venue choice is crucial for a live event, here, it is the technology you use that's key. It's worth noting here that if something seems too good to be true, it may well be, so be careful of technology providers offering ridiculously cheap services compared to others.
- Remember, you are saving money on venue hire, catering, branding and venue dressing, so don't scrimp on the one thing that is running your event. Your event depends on it!
Hire Space Says: With virtual events, you have the luxury of being able to organise much larger events than you may have previously been able, due to venue restrictions, budget or manpower. If you're dreaming of a 5,000 delegate conference to engage your international clients as well, then now's the time to go for it!
Choose The Right Tech Solutions
There are hundreds of different tech providers in the market offering virtual event solutions. It can be overwhelming, at times, trying to sift through the range of options and make sure they tick all the right boxes.
- If you're looking to organise a series of events you may be able to negotiate a discount for using a single platform for all events. Some event platforms work on a per delegate pricing structure and others offer a subscription service.
- Consider a range of options, including a combination of integrated systems (event registration, audience engagement & streaming platform) or an all-in-one platform. Depending on your requirements you could save money with an all-in-one system which tend to come with the bigger price tag rather than paying for a number of different solutions that integrate.
- Hire Space has done all the legwork for you and can offer an impartial virtual event consultation to help you select the right tool for the job (and help you save money at the same time). Get in touch with one of our virtual event experts today for a consultation to help you find the best solution for your event and budget.
Hire Space Says: Technology isn't always perfect. Selecting the right tools and getting support is essential to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. Make sure your attendees remember your event for all the right reasons!
Content Is King
Ok, so we've all heard this saying before but it really is true. Ultimately, if you want to make your virtual event memorable, you need to make your content top-notch. Unlike at a live event, if people aren't engaging with your content, they can leave with a click of a button or start doing something else whilst your event plays in the background, which definitely isn't ideal.
- Think about the value proposition for your attendees - what do you want them to get out of your event? The more relevant and engaging the content, the more of your audience that is likely to engage.
- Consider ways in which to engage your audience throughout the content; polls, live chat and Q&A can be great ways for your audience to take part in the conversation and stay engaged.
- Repurpose! The value of your event does not end when the 'virtual' curtain closes. Make sure to record and repurpose the video into a series of teaser video reels, content sessions, key takeaway pieces etc. This will extend the shelf life of your event and allow you to engagement over time.
- Creating content costs nothing but brainpower - do your research and have an afternoon Zoom call with your colleagues, discuss popular topics around the theme of your event, and then throw around ideas until you've developed some really interesting ideas for your sessions.
Get Your Speakers Onboard
Once you've developed your content, it's time to start inviting speakers to participate. Research around the theme of your event a little. Identifying key individuals or advocates that are relevant to your theme is a surefire way to ensure your potential speakers will be able to add worthwhile contributions and create an engaging discussion.
- The real draw for speakers (and your company credit card) is that they can join in from the comfort of their own homes, therefore not spending money or valuable time traveling to and from the event or buying meals.
- These reduced costs and the ability to join at home, means that often speakers will be inclined to offer reduced rates (if any at all).
Do Your Own Marketing
Promoting your event on social media, sending out targeted emails and blogs are a really easy and cheap way to create a buzz around your event. Plus, if you've got some great speakers and content, the event will sell itself.
- During the event, make it as interactive as possible in order to create maximum engagement. You can engage attendees by doing live Q&As and polls, and also on social media by live posting and using a dedicated hashtag.
- It's super easy to gather attendee data during virtual events. You'll be able to see which attendee engaged with each session, so you'll be able to send relevant post-event content to them, which won't go unnoticed and will leave you in good stead for high engagement at your next event.
- Record the sessions so you can email them to attendees and share on social media for individuals who didn't tune in. This will extend your reach, increase the shelf-life of your event and boost your presence.
Decide On Your Extras
If you've got a little leftover for extras, consider sending each participant some swag or goody bags, as they might receive at a live event. These can be really cheap but really effective in making your event memorable - most virtual events only consider the user experience on the platform, so think about what makes you different and what people will remember after your event has finished.
- Consider some catering options that will make your event really stand out. You could organise for some canapés or drinks to be sent to your attendees for a virtual wrap-up drinks reception, or if you wanted to go the extra mile, why not send them some breakfast to get their morning off to a great start!
- If you're looking to inject some fun into the event, we've put together 10 Team Building Ideas for a Quarantined World, many of which are suitable for larger audiences (1000+). Want to keep your attendee's engaged in between their content sessions? Why not run a Virtual Scavenger hunt with exciting prizes. What about sprinkling in some virtual mindfulness breakout sessions into your event format? Or you can offer the VIP treatment by hosting a Virtual Wine Tasting for those clients you really need to woo.
- Going the extra mile will turn a drab webinar or livestream into an event to remember and really set you apart from the rest. Invest in the event experience like you would an in-person event.
We hope these tips have helped you when thinking about your own virtual events on a budget. To read more about planning virtual events, read our article on how to Adapt and Grow Your Audience With Virtual Events, or read about Hire Space's recent virtual event 'How The Events World Is Responding To COVID-19'.
At Hire Space, we've developed a virtual event consulting service to help events professionals through this uncertain time.
So, what are you waiting for? If you're ready to start organising, book your free consultation today with our Virtual Event Experts to see how we can help make your virtual event unforgettable at a price that suits you!