2020 saw a huge increase in the number of virtual events going on. Whether these were business or personal, they became a part of our daily lives. It’s safe to say that the Coronavirus pandemic had a huge impact on everyone across the globe, forcing events to go virtual. In fact, it is the events sector that was amongst the hardest hit of them all. Still, one year on, very few in-person events are allowed to take place. The events sector suffered lost income, jobs, and money, putting a huge amount of pressure on it.
However, it didn’t take long for this sector to take a look at new ways of doing things that are a bit more Coronavirus-friendly. As such, virtual events started to become more common. Whether they were replacing in-person events that were due to take place, or offering something completely new, virtual events were a new solution to this devastating problem. In fact, B2B virtual events really took off and became a firm fixture on our calendars where usually, we’d all be attending events in-person.
So, in today’s blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at virtual B2B events, the benefits of them, and what you need to be aware of if you’re considering hosting one. With virtual events still on the rise, you don’t want to get left behind, so it’s good to know all about the benefits so that you can be prepared!
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The exciting benefits of B2B events that you need to know about
More people can come from all over the globe
While in-person B2B gatherings are great for meeting new people and expanding your network, they do also come with their fair share of limitations. One of the most prominent limitations is that of location. In-person events don’t attract as wide an audience as they could do because that audience needs to be able to travel in for the event. This means that people who live further away (including abroad) are unlikely to be able to attend. This is where B2B virtual events really come into their own. As their physical presence isn’t required, people can join in from all over the globe, without having to spend money to travel. The only limitation is time differences (meaning some attendees may be tuning in at midnight in their home country!), but this isn’t a huge concern for many events. In turn, the event is opened up to a huge range of people, benefitting both the attendees themselves and others who get to virtually meet and learn from a wider range of people than ever before.
Virtual events are more inclusive for all
B2B virtual events don’t just expand their audiences in terms of location. Hosting an event virtually also makes it a lot more accessible for people who wouldn’t be able to attend for other reasons, such as disability. Any good event host should be looking for ways to make their event more inclusive for everyone, and events that are either fully virtual, or have the option to attend virtually, are a good way to do this. People who would struggle to travel or attend a full day of in-person gatherings can now do the same thing from the comfort of their own home. So, they don’t have to miss out on all of the benefits that can come from attending events in their industry. Another great benefit for the event host is that they will gain a reputation for putting inclusion first and being welcoming to everyone, so it really is a win-win situation.
You can invite a wider range of speakers than ever before
But, when it comes to the people that are attending your B2B event, the benefits of going virtual aren’t just limited to the attendees! You can also invite a wider range of speakers, workshop leaders, and other featured guests that you may not have been able to with an in-person event. For example, if some of the best people in your field are located abroad, you may not have been able to invite them to join you in-person. But, with a virtual event, there’s no need for them to even leave their house, and they can still speak at your event! So, virtual events are great for broadening your horizons and getting a more exciting lineup of speakers that may previously have not been open to you.
Be ahead of the game: virtual events are here to stay in the B2B space
While everyone is itching to get back to some semblance of normality after the Coronavirus pandemic, one thing is clear: virtual events are here to stay. While, of course, more in-person events should return in 2021 and beyond, it also looks like events that are either fully virtual or have some virtual capabilities are going to stick around for a whole lot longer. And, as people become more used to them and technology starts to get even better, virtual events are an exciting thing to be a part of. You can use them to show your customers, colleagues, and industry that you have your finger on the pulse and are quick to react to the latest trends. So, if you don’t want to get left out, you should definitely be thinking about investing in B2B virtual events sooner rather than later, if you haven’t already.
Virtual events can save time and money
Alongside keeping event attendees safe from the pandemic, and all of the other benefits mentioned here, virtual B2B events are good because they can save time and money for the event organisers and attendees. For example, there will be no travel time needed, and less time required to set up an event. And, it’s likely that you will need to hire a smaller space (if you even need to hire a space at all), so you can save money on those costs too. Plus, there’s providing everyone with food, speaker travel costs… the list goes on. So, because of the savings involved, virtual events are becoming more and more of an attractive option to businesses in all sorts of industries.
What you need to be aware of when it comes to B2B virtual events
While there are plenty of benefits that come with hosting virtual events B2B or otherwise, there are also a few things that you should be aware of if you’re planning on putting one on. Let’s take a closer look:
You still need a budget!
Some events organisers see hosting a virtual event as the easy way out as it requires less money to be spent on the event. This is true, but you should be aware that it still does require a significant amount of funding to put on a really good event. You shouldn’t choose a virtual event just because it’s the cheaper option. Plenty of costs are still involved, such as hiring equipment for speakers and hosts to use, a platform to host your event on, promoting it, and not to mention paying your speakers for their time. Plus, as event attendees become more and more used to attending events virtually, they will come to expect high-quality events, no matter if they’re there in person or not. So, while virtual B2B events are the cheaper option, putting on a good event is by no means cheap!
You always need to promote your event
As with any in-person event, your B2B virtual events will need promotion. There are plenty of ways in which you can do this, but taking your promotion online is a good idea. Social media platforms that are aimed at a B2B audience (mainly LinkedIn) are a good place to start. Here, you can invite your connections and even undertake paid promotion in order to attract the right sort of audience. Don’t forget to keep your promotion activity exciting to really drive home the benefits of your B2B virtual event, so that people in your industry are excited to attend.
It’s vital to keep everyone engaged (or they’ll just leave)
While B2B virtual events are the next big thing, in-person events do still have some advantages over them. Namely, if someone decides halfway through an event that it’s not right for them, or they’re bored, they are still not likely to up and leave, as they have spent time, effort and money to get there. This is less of the case when it comes to virtual events. They’ve invested a lot less effort into attending and could decide simply to drop out of the virtual meeting. So, it’s more important than ever to keep your events engaging so that you minimise the risk of this happening. Including plenty of variety in your events is key, such as breakout rooms, virtual networking sessions, Q&As, and a range of exciting speakers.
Don’t rush into it on your own
Many events organisers feel that organising B2B virtual events is easy compared to something that’s in-person. While it may not have quite as many moving parts as an in-person event does, it can still be difficult to pull it off, especially if you don’t have an established network of industry contacts to help you make it happen. So, don’t be afraid to bring in the help of professional events organisers if you think it will help your virtual event to be a success. Of course, this is an investment, but it should be worth it when your event is even better than you imagined!
Overall, it’s clear to see that B2B virtual events will be around even after the Coronavirus pandemic is over. So, it’s probably a good idea to jump on the bandwagon sooner rather than later if you don’t want to get left behind! Of course, even event is different, and you may find that virtual events don’t work for you or your industry after all. But, there’s definitely no harm in trying and seeing where it could take you, especially as virtual event technology becomes even more advanced and attendees become more used to and willing to attend events virtually.