Over the past 12 months, we've seen countless event planners turn to virtual events as a means of maintaining market presence and supporting their customers. Whilst hosting a virtual conference should, in theory, be cheaper than live events, the innovative technology can sometimes come with a hefty price tag.
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
1. Determine Your Objectives And Budget
2. Decide On Your Format
3. Choose The Right Tech Solutions
4. Content Is King
5. Do Your Own Marketing
6. Decide On Your Extras
Determine Your Objectives And Budget
The first step to your virtual event planning 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
Deciding on 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 or virtual meeting, a basic platform may be all you need.
- If you're running a virtual conference or exhibition which requires breakout rooms and/or networking, you will need a more sophisticated (and probably more expensive) platform for this. Having said that, our brand new platform, Arena, is an all-rounder and affordable option for any virtual event.
- 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 virtual conference depends on it! Consider using professional virtual event production to ensure a seamless experience.
Hire Space Says: With virtual conferences, 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 virtual 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 to sift through the range of options and make sure they tick all the right boxes. Read our piece on the technology you'll need for your virtual event to get a better idea.
- If you're looking to organise a series of events you may be able to negotiate a discount for using a single virtual conference platform for all events. Some virtual event platforms work on a per delegate pricing structure and others offer a subscription service.
- Consider a range of options that could fit your virtual event strategy. You could go for an event stack (a combination of integrated systems including event registration, audience engagement & streaming platforms) 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 using an event tech stack. Check out our comparison piece with the pros and cons of each, as this should help you make an informed decision on your chosen virtual conference platform.
- 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. If you wanted help with your whole events programme from start to finish, Hire Space 360 offers everything the modern event planner needs to create memorable events, in-person and online. For just a small monthly cost, you'll have access to venue sourcing, unlimited event tech including state-of-the-art registration tech and our event platform Arena, on-demand event professionals, and more.
- Check out 10 of the best all-in-one virtual event platforms.
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! Arena by Hire Space is a brand new events platform allowing you to deliver an exceptional virtual event at a fraction of the cost of others out there, with broadcast-quality streaming to boot.
Plus, you can get unlimited access to Arena and other event technology through Hire Space 360, a modern event planner's best friend. You'll also get venue sourcing, assistance with contracting and payments, supplier sourcing, on-demand staffing and so much more.
Content Is King
Ok, so we've all heard this 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 you'll engage your audience.
- Consider ways to engage your audience throughout the virtual conference; polls, live chat and Q&A can be great ways for your audience to take part in the conversation and stay engaged. Using engagement tools are also good accompaniments to your content for engaging your audience.
- 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 life of your event.
- 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, or even take part for free.
Do Your Own Marketing
Promoting your event on social media, sending out targeted emails and writing 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 also worth holding fun networking sessions to enhance your audience's experience. Check out our favourite networking tools, or browse our virtual networking experiences.
- It's super easy to gather attendee data during virtual conferences. You'll be able to see which attendee engaged with each session, so you'll be able to send feedback surveys and 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 11 Team Building Ideas for a Quarantined World, many of which are suitable for larger audiences (1000+). Want to keep your attendees 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 win over. Check out our full range of virtual experiences for more.
- 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.
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!
For more guidance and advice on how to plan unforgettable virtual events, check out our Complete Guide To Virtual Events and for more help on your virtual event strategy, check out our virtual event planning checklist.
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.