Chances are, your annual conference, trade show, summit or other live event looked a little different last year.
If it wasn’t outright canceled, it was likely moved to a virtual format. This means your association missed out on the usual face-to-face networking, education and marketing opportunities that come from a live event.
But it’s not all bad! There are some upsides to this digital transition.
First, if you went completely digital and hosted your event online, it’s likely that you reached a wider virtual audience compared to those who would have been able to attend in person. Second, you now have the infrastructure in place to hold digital or hybrid events in the future – extending your reach even further.
Do virtual events actually increase attendance?
Let’s look at a real-life example. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) set attendance and participation records when they moved their 2020 Annual Congress to an online format.
By quickly pivoting and creating a virtual Congress, AANA salvaged revenue from what is usually a $2.5 million meeting. In four months, Association TV worked with AANA to create and organize a digital event with 10,000 people accessing sessions throughout.
And salvaging non-dues revenue isn’t the only benefit of this digital transition.
AANA had been working toward a goal of increasing their in-person attendance for the Congress. This specific goal wasn’t possible this year, but by deploying a virtual event they still managed to reach members who had never attended Congress before. With this inaugural digital meeting, AANA doubled voter turnout on their bylaws from the previous year and set a new record for the association.
How do I throw a productive virtual event to smash my own goals?
To achieve a digital event that will be successful for your audience, you will have to make some changes to your usual programming.
At an in-person event, people are kept busy with presentations, keynotes, exhibits on the tradeshow floor and networking with peers. At a virtual event, you don’t have the luxury of those engagement opportunities. Instead of face-to-face meetings and sessions, you are now going to your audience, wherever they happen to be at the time.
Since many people are working from home, you may be competing with internet speeds, family, or other distractions during the day. It may be beneficial to break your content into a mix of live and on-demand sessions to help engage an audience that isn’t physically there. This also gives your members the opportunity to view your content on their schedule rather than having to decide which session to attend.
In AANA’s case, they created two different tracks at their Congress. One was a free track to engage members who usually didn’t attend. The other was a digital pass that included access to the Continuing Education Credits for those who needed it.
These credits are typically offered at Congress; however, AANA realized that few people would want or be able to sit and watch 24 or 25 hours of video over three days. They pivoted their strategy to offer three months of free session access to pass-holding members so they could enjoy the content on their own schedule. AANA saw so much engagement that they doubled their revenue targets and extended that three-month access to six.
This extension served AANA in more than just revenue. It also helped members discover their new content platform.
You have every opportunity to do the same!
You’ve gone through the effort of creating a platform and content for a virtual event. Take it one step further. Use your platform year-round to deliver content to your members. Take your event content and expand on it. Make smaller videos of your keynote presentations or a podcast out of a fireside chat.
Put all of this into an extended schedule, and you will help members foster a long-term relationship with you. Instead of having a website for just the event, you can now put up new educational content year-round and give members regular updates to look forward to.
We know you’re facing difficult decisions with your upcoming events, but there are solutions available. With the right plan, you can create an opportunity for increased engagement and revenue opportunities.
For information on some of Association TV’s solutions CLICK HERE.