"When you look at the amount of money that is invested by the car manufacturers when they exhibit at a physical car show, their costs to be a sponsor at our show are 1 percent or less compared to [that]," he continues. "… You save money on shipping fees, drayage fees, lodging, airfare, not to mention the benefit to the environment [from] an attendee being able to attend a show like this from the comfort of their home or work."
Overhead cost savings are one of virtual events' and webinars' most important benefits, agrees Ken Molay, president of consultancy firm Webinar Success. "[Return-on-investment] improvements are mainly due to your ability to reach a wider geographic audience without incremental investments in travel, lodging, local advertising … and so on," he says. "A single webinar can involve prospective advertisers or affiliates from across the country or even around the world. A compelling topic or value proposition can result in many hundreds of new registrants, who become a part of your target audience for future promotion, marketing and sales campaigns."
The Revenue Promise
As the virtual events market grows, publishers are working with vendors to find innovative ways to monetize the platform. The most compelling revenue-generating prospect, believes Joerg Rathenberg of virtual events provider Unisfair, is lead-generation. "One thing about online, as opposed to [an in-person] show, is you have complete control over the data … being generated. We have a very detailed way of reporting exactly what happened at the event, and that's very good for lead-generation," he says. "We know who [attendees] are, what time they arrived, how long they stayed, which booths they visited and what kind of chats they had with booth reps—the entire content of the conversation—which is not normal if you go to a trade show."