15 Tips to Profit From Virtual Events
As 2009 comes to a close, flat remains the (not so) new up in magazine publishing. Print advertising continues to take a flogging, online revenue is still an enigma to many publishers, and trade shows/exhibitions and conferences are taking a hit for many as well. One bright spot, however, may be virtual events—which, due to their no-travel-required nature, actually could be benefiting from the dire economic climate.
Virtual shows are like webinar series on steroids: An alternative to face-to-face conferences, they allow thousands of qualified registrants to log on to Web browser-based virtual environments to access conference programming, networking lounges and exhibit halls. Attendees can view live or recorded conference sessions; exchange virtual business cards; and "chat" with other attendees, exhibitors and sponsors—all without leaving their desks or incurring travel expenses. Best of all, they're a fast, relatively simple and fairly inexpensive way to link your advertisers to large numbers of qualified leads, strengthening your relationships with your audience and advertisers in the process.
While they are significantly less expensive to produce than a live event, it still will cost you to use any of the virtual events platforms on the market. (And costs will vary depending on different factors, such as the features you opt to include in your virtual show.) Experimenting with an unfamiliar product such as a virtual event can be daunting—especially in these times—so Publishing Executive queried virtual-events veterans about the keys to successful and profitable shows.
1. Don't just wade in—dive in.
To maximize success—and profits—it's important to commit the appropriate staff and resources to virtual show production. "For publishers getting into the space, they need to make a commitment to treating it as they would a physical event," says Robin Klombers, vice president of client services, InXpo, a Chicago-based provider of virtual event solutions.