The Event Creators Collective’s third webinar in its series on ‘Responding to Lockdown’ series was focussed on the world of conferences, trade shows and expos.
The webinar kicked-off with a review of a recent survey (carried out by Ticket Tailor) which asked event creators how they were approaching the lockdown and how things might differ for conferences, trade shows and expos.
The impact of Covid-19 seems to have been mitigated differently by the world of conferences, trade shows and expos compared to other event types - there has been an emphasis on postponement, rather than cancellations. Since many of these organisations run one large annual event there is a clear preference for finding a time in the future when it is safe for the event to be held, instead of writing off a year’s revenue.
However, that doesn’t mean that everyone who runs a conference is sitting around waiting for in-person events to happen. Nearly 60% of respondents who run conferences, trade shows and expos are now running their events virtually.
We were privileged to be joined by two panelists who shared their incredible experiences of how they turned the disruption of the lockdown into huge opportunities for their organisations.
Zach Ness from Outthinker 2020 Virtual Summit
Here are a few of the topics we discussed:
Technology means more than just video conferencing
You’ve sorted your online ticketing for your conference and signed up to a video conferencing provider, but that might be just the start.
Conferences by their nature are multi-faceted. It’s not just the speakers that make a conference - it’s a blend of various elements that brings the audiences in; networking, breakout sessions, exhibit stands, sponsorship opportunities and so much more. Erhan explained how Blockchain solved this by creating an entire 3D conference using the same technology that second life is built on - complete with sponsor stands and even a nightclub!
But even if you don’t have the capabilities to build a 3D virtual conference, it’s worth considering how technology can make your event more interactive, and also create sponsorship opportunities.
The future is hybrid
Whilst it’s difficult to know when in-person events will be back - there’s a clear consensus that the new normal will blur the lines between in-person and virtual events. Conferences are by their nature international, and whilst limitations are in place for air travel, organisations are going to have to try and reach a wider audience using some element of online access. Though this poses complications, there are also clear opportunities here for events. Whereas before a company might only fly 1 or 2 attendees to a conference, now they might buy online access for the entire team!
Pricing your virtual conference
We continue to see a wide variety of pricing approaches for events - and conferences are no different. Both Zach and Erhan agreed that during lockdown the best thing you might be able to do is raise the profile of your brand, increase your email list and hopefully raise some money for causes supporting Coronavirus relief.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t tactical opportunities to make money. A few of the ideas floated were regarding sponsorship or higher priced tickets for increased content, access to speakers or other premium access.
That’s just a taste, watch the video for the full experience.