Types of Virtual Events

Sep 29, 2020

Event planners have been providing various options to connect people around the world for many years. Whether it be in-person, virtual or hybrid (combination of the two), each type of event comes with its own pros and cons. Face to face delivery is wonderful for networking and collaboration and often involves the drawcard of a fabulous destination. However, more recently the world has learnt to adapt to a global pandemic crisis resulting in a trend toward virtual and hybrid events. This event style can increase reach and attendance. No matter what style of event you decide upon the fundamentals remain the same.

Content is king. Engagement is vital. Marketing is essential. Measurement is critical.

Allow us to demystify some of the most common event formats to enable you to make an informed decision on your event structure to best meet your overall objectives.

HUB AND SPOKE

A hub and spoke event means one connection point (known as the hub) which distributes the content to all parties in multiple locations. Imagine an event for 4,000 people that uses 200 small venues all over the country, or the world, all connected and interacting. This style of event can enable planners to create a way to offer scale and intimacy while keeping attendee numbers within safety guidelines and restrictions.

Positive
• Anywhere to everywhere
• Centralised management with monitoring of the network
• Ability to physically network with local industry whilst connecting to a greater network
• Can record and be offered as post event education
• Save on physical venue and food and beverage costs
• In-demand speakers may be more accessible and less cost by taking them online
• Less cost for delegates to attend virtually with no travel related expenses and accommodation
• Less cost for exhibitors with no hard booth construction, transport and promotional materials
• Flexibility of attending especially from various time zones
• Ability to reach a larger audience with lower commitment required and less time out of the office for delegates
• Virtual events enable hosting more people for a fraction of the cost
• Health and safety risks are reduced
• High-quality real-time data and insights are available immediately

Negative
• If the hub fails, the rest of the network connection fails
• Increased complexity of engagement and planning processes distributing the content
• Management and cost of multiple venues and suppliers in each location
• Perceived as less value to exhibitors and sponsors

WEBINAR

Webinars use video conferencing software and allow live Q&A and can be recorded offering on demand after the webinar. Attendees can join in live to the webinar from anywhere around the world and have an online payment fee or be offered for free. These can be used for simple communication and include training components. Generally, webinars range between 30 to 90 minutes in length.

Positive
• Cost effective to produce for business
• Cost effective to attend for delegates
• Available on demand and when it suits the delegate to watch
• High participation due to unlimited numbers
• Easy to organise in shorter timeframes
• Less notice required for delegate attendance

Negative
• Less likely to gain effective data and results
• No face to face integration for networking
• Short sessions and not full day experiences
• Delegate and/or sponsors may not perceive high value with low cost or free event

VIRTUAL EVENT

A virtual event is an event that involves people interacting in an online environment rather than at a physical location. Virtual conferences include complex agendas with keynote speakers, breakouts and engagement sessions as well as online exhibition options. Virtual conferences allow attendees to view keynote speakers, build their own agenda, have on demand content and the ability to interact with other attendees and stakeholders.

Positive
• Cost-effective with the major cost associated with the platform hosting
• In-demand speakers may be more accessible and less cost
• Less cost for delegates to attend with no travel related expenses such as flights and accommodation
• Less cost for exhibitors with no hard booth construction, transport and promotional materials
• Flexibility of attending especially from various time zones
• Ability to reach a larger audience with lower commitment required and less time out of the office for delegates
• Recorded sessions lessen the burden of note taking and improve reporting
• Virtual events enable hosting more people for a fraction of the cost
• Health and safety risks are eliminated
• Recording of sessions allows increased variety of sessions enhancing value for attendees
• High-quality data and insights are available immediately
• Virtual networking can be of value and allows for creativity

Negative
• No face-face networking
• Distractions at home or in an office can diminish the virtual conference experience
• More difficult to build excitement and grandeur with an online event
• Not as easy or cost effective to supply delegates with promotional items
• Virtual events require suitable devices, good internet connections for quality transmission and a reasonable level of technological skill
• Establishing full day events within a time zone that works globally is challenging

HYBRID

A Hybrid event is a combination of a traditional in person event such as a conference or a meeting that features a live speaker at the traditional event location connecting with a live online presence simultaneously.

Positive
• Combines the best of in-person and virtual events
• Offers delegates, sponsors and exhibitors the option of either participating in person or virtually
• Larger attendance and content opportunities pre-recorded or live streamed
• Ability to live stream and connect to a global audience with live chat windows and Q&A for participants
• Provides convenience and flexibility for participants with replay options at a more suitable time
• Great for the environment reducing carbon footprint with less travel

Negative
• Lacks the personal connection and networking of face to face with a portion of the attendees
• Participants streaming from different devices and networks can result in technological challenges and disruptions
• Virtual participants may get distracted in their environment
• Virtual attendees miss out on the reward and drawcard of a conference destination which offers cultural and other experiences.
• Sponsors and Exhibitors needing to provide both a physical and virtual presence: labour intensive
• Most expensive option because you have physical event costs (eg venue, F&B, booth build, etc) as well as virtual event cost (virtual event platform and labour)

SATELLITE EVENTS

Satellite events are independently organised and held before or after the main conference either in the same location or other destinations. Satellite events are not part of the official conference program but use the main conference as an occasion to extend and amplify conference themes, drive event goals, foster interaction, and develop partnerships. Satellite events range from dinners and workshops to site tours and can include panel discussions to film screenings and can take place weeks or months in advance or post event online.

Positive
• Can increase exposure and secure a relevant audience
• Opportunities to position a brand/company as thought leaders
• Can provide more effective networking by targeting a smaller group of strategically chosen customers who can add real value
• Convenience for attendees for attendees unable to travel
• Sessions can be live for one time zone and recorded for another
• Ability to hold VIP experiences for media and key customers

Negative
• Difficult to keep the satellite at the forefront of delegate minds when the larger conference is taking place
• Maintaining control of the satellite event content because it is run by external organisers
• Internet connection must be capable of streaming the event
• Additional costs with professional sound and lighting (recommended but expensive)

eTechSuite staff can work with you on the best event solution.  sales@etechsuite.com

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