Virtual events aren't going away anytime soon, so it's important for all of us to adapt to this new normal (anyone else sick of that saying?!) and get on board with the virtual hype. The beauty of virtual events is that there are no venue or travel costs, meaning that in their nature they are likely to be much more cost-effective than physical events.
That being said, it's still important to properly budget for your virtual events so no hidden costs sneak up on you. Below we've listed some considerations to think about for your virtual event and the key elements you'll need to budget for. If you need more guidance on your event, our Virtual Event Experts are here to help! Get in touch and book your free consultation.
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Where do I start?
First thing's first, you need to decide what event you want to organise, as this will dictate which platform you need. Just like with live events, every virtual event is different and you can really customise it to exactly what you want and what your budget allows.
Read our piece on these 11 creative event formats for inspiration if you're not too sure what you want to go for, but in the meantime we discuss three of the most common virtual event types below.
In the meantime, if you need a little extra help with your events programme, consider using Hire Space 360; the modern event planner's best friend. You'll get access to venue sourcing, access to our state-of-the-art online event platform Arena, help with registration technology, assistance with contracting and payments, supplier sourcing, and much more.
If you're organising a virtual conference and want an all-singing all-dancing platform which does everything for you, you'll need an all-in-one platform. The other option is 'stacked technology' - using different platforms and integrating them together.
We find that using an all-in-one platform is typically more cost-effective in the long run. In terms of how your conference looks, it really depends on how fancy you want it to be - if you want a full on 3D virtual world experience, naturally this will cost more (from around £10,000 per event). If you want something a bit more simple, this is likely to be cheaper. A mid-range estimation for an all-in-one platform starts from around £1500.
Hire Space has recently launched a brand new virtual events solution called Arena. This platform offers audience engagement tools, networking, breakouts rooms and plenty more, all while being super affordable and fully brandable.
Meetings and workshops
If you're looking to host a more interactive event, such as an online workshop delivering skill-based training, or a meeting, you could use a simple platform like Zoom. This platform is much more affordable for small budgets (from £44 a month) and and is perfect for those more discussion-based sessions for up to 1000 people. What's more, Zoom allows you to spice things up a little with features such as breakout rooms, so it's not just straight streaming.
If you're hosting a workshop, you may require a more collaborative platform like Miro, which you can use with Zoom and allows attendees to 'write' notes on a virtual wall.
Requiring less audience participation than meetings or workshops, webinars are a great way to inform your customers and typically have a much wider reach. Webinars are typically pretty cheap to run - they don't require sponsor booths, registration or separate 'rooms', so they can be created using pretty simple video conferencing tools. That being said, it may be a good idea to make sure there's a Q&A function, so attendees can get involved that way.
Read our piece on 10 of the best all-in-one virtual event platforms for more information on pricing.
What about extras?
For larger and more complex events, we highly recommend outsourcing some production professionals if you don't have an in-house tech team. This way, you can focus on the content and speakers whilst the tech side is taken care of. Plus using a production company makes the whole event look so much more polished and professional.
Aside from the smooth running of the event, you're going to need a tech team to help out if something goes wrong too. If this happens it's both embarrassing and costly, so investing in a great tech team who can fix anything and everything is really important and will ensure your event runs smoothly.
There are lots of great production companies out there, ranging from £2500 per event. We have some great production suppliers who we'd be happy to put you in touch with!
If you decide to have sponsors at your event, you'll need to think about what you are offering them and what cost this will be to you. For example, you may be able to add on 10 sponsor booths to your platform package, in order to sell these booths to sponsors for your event.
Having sponsors is great, but it's important that you make your money back! For some planners, it may be difficult to know what to charge. At a virtual event, the platform is effectively the venue, so we recommend using a similar margin as you might for a live event, such as charging a tenth of the price of the platform. This ensures you are monetising your event sufficiently. Having sponsors needs to benefit you too!
Hire Space Top Tip: When choosing a virtual event platform, ask about the sponsor booth functionality. Many platforms, such as Arena, can offer booths or designated sponsor space on the event platform, which gives you as the organiser another chance to monetise your event and sell sponsorship, as well as offering additional exposure opportunities for sponsors.
The beauty of virtual is that you won't have to fork out for any printed collateral or goody bags. Not only does this make your event that bit more sustainable but also saves money. However, if you did want to give your delegates extra special treatment, you could look into delivering some food or drinks, which would need to be factored in to the budget too. There are lots of companies that offer food and drink delivery services, starting from around £10 pp depending on what you want to provide.
Another great way to ensure your delegates remember your event for all the right reasons is to weave in an activity post-event. There are all sorts of quizzes, escape rooms and other team building activities that can be factored into the event. Read our piece on 11 virtual team building activities for inspiration and pricing information, and check out this piece on tips for making a virtual event memorable on a budget. You could also browse our other virtual experiences for our complete curated collection.
Social media, email marketing, paid ads... the list is endless of the marketing opportunities you can use to advertise your event. Choose what you want to go for and adjust your marketing budget around that. If you have an in-house marketing team, then there won't be any additional cost except the cost of the platforms you use (if not free).
If the platform you choose offers extras such as branding opportunities, you will need to factor this into the budget and really think about the level of noise you want this event to make.
- Our Virtual Event Service can offer you savings and discounts all across the board, and what's more, we'll organise everything for you! This is perfect if you're a complete newbie. You can also start by checking out our piece on how to adapt and grow your audience with virtual events or how to monetise your virtual events.
- Have a really strong brief. Decide exactly what you want and make sure you have a strong understanding of your requirements ahead of tech sourcing.
- Who are your speakers? Will you need to pay them?
- Will this be a repeat or one-off event? Some providers are subscription based, so y0u may pay an annual fee which covers every event you do during that time. This is ideal if you are planning to do a series of events and it makes it much cheaper, but if it's just a one-off it is probably more cost effective for you to pay a one off price.
Although the cost of a virtual event really depends on what you're looking for and the extras you want to include, we hope this helps you when thinking about budgeting!
If you’re ready to get planning, just get in touch with our virtual event experts. Not only can we offer you significant savings across the board, we'll take the weight off your shoulders during planning too. For more guidance and advice on how to plan unforgettable virtual events, check out our Complete Guide To Virtual Events, or check out our Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events if you're looking to go hybrid.
Izzie brings a deep understanding of the events world to Hire Space, and keeps busy by writing lots of Hire Space and EventLAB content and managing the Hire Space social media presence.