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We need to talk about virtual conferences

20/05/19

The topic of virtual conferences often gets industry professionals really hot under the collar. Love them or loathe them, most people come down heavily on one side of the fence or the other. But whatever your stand point, can you honestly say you’ve really opened your mind to the opposing argument?
 
Every event is a unique beast and the subject of virtual conferencing should be approached afresh for each project you work on. Difficult to do if you’ve been an outspoken advocate for Team Yes or Team No. This is why we wanted to give you some clear pros and cons for the debate so you can have a neutral starting point when considering virtual conferencing for your next event.
 
Pros:

Money
If people aren’t physically present at your conference, you don’t have to feed them or pay for the space they take up in a venue – yet, you can still charge them to access the content you’re streaming.
 
Sustainability
Travel, catering, electricity, waste… we all know events can struggle to cover their carbon footprint, but hosting a virtual conference is much kinder to the planet.
 
Reach
Have you looked into how far your delegates will have to travel to get to your event? There are people who simply live too far away to make it worth their while to come, yet, your content is undoubtedly of interest to them. Virtual conferencing will give them the opportunity to engage with your brand – something they would never have done otherwise.
 
Building your online community
There’s no denying that social media and other online communities are important to every industry or group of individuals with a common interest. By offering virtual access to your event, you can capture this audience on your social media platforms by offering them the opportunity to interact with your speakers via Twitter, for example. This is then a really effective way to re-market your event next year and spread brand awareness.
 
Easy attendance
Committing to going to a conference is a big effort. To be prepared to put on a smart outfit, leave the house on time, get on a train/bus/car etc. But to simply log on and not have to put yourself out there is so much easier! This means you’re likely to get more delegates than at a physical event.


 
Cons:

Face-to-face interaction
Engagement and interaction is hugely important in gauging the success of a conference or event. This is much harder to achieve when people aren’t occupying the same physical space. Distractions are more likely to interfere with your audience as you won’t have control over their environment. 
 
Overall delegate experience and buy-in
Adding a personal touch to proceedings at a conference is easier to do when you have people in the room with you. The food, entertainment, gift bags and bonding are all important parts of creating a memorable experience for your guests, and not something they will get from a virtual event.
 
Reduced networking opportunities
Whilst your content is the most important part of your conference, often coming in a close second is networking. Of course, this can be set up online as part of your virtual conference, but many would argue contacts made in the flesh are going to form stronger bonds than when made through an electronic platform. 
 
Reduced attendance
Many events offer the choice to their delegates of streaming or live attendance. While this might extend the reach of your audience, it also could tempt those who would otherwise have turned up to your event, the excuse not to come and therefore reducing your overall attendance numbers, which might impact on profit.

 
W12 Conferences
Find out more about the conference and meetings facilities here at W12 Conferences by contacting our Events Team on +44 (0)20 3313 1606.
 

General enquiries and venue hire:

00 44 (0) 20 3313 1606

Event information:

00 44 (0) 20 3313 1609

Fax:

00 44 (0) 20 3313 1610

Write to us at:

W12 Conferences,
Artillery Lane,
150 Du Cane Road,
London,
W12 0HS

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