Recent surveys of meeting and event planners consistently show that about 80 percent will hold their next in-person event in the second half of this year, with a recent uptick in event planning in the U.S. due mostly to progress in COVID-19 immunizations. While this is great news for associations that rely on event marketing for revenue generation and member engagement, it comes with many risks as well as opportunities.
Resources for Community & Virtual Event Success
In 2021 and beyond, virtual events will grow in importance as part of our digital marketing mix, and we'll need to create more value for our associations, our members and our sponsors.
BBI International is the world leader in biofuels/biomass publishing and events, including the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), which is the largest gathering of ethanol producers in the world every year. It is a trade show, as well as an education and networking event for production/operations managers, leadership/financial professionals, product management and infrastructure/market development leaders. It is also an important annual event for sponsors/exhibitors to engage with current and prospective customers.
The big trend for 2021 conferences and conventions is to develop hybrid experiences that enable attendees to participate either in-person or virtually, depending upon their preference, budget and schedule limitations. After the abrupt shift to virtual events during the pandemic, event managers have now experienced the pros and cons of both live and online events, and we’re seeing the potential to merge the best of both worlds to create more sophisticated events this year.
If you’re like most Industry Associations, you have stepped up the volume of virtual events you are offering and it’s time to consider how to increase the revenue they provide for you and your sponsors. For many organizations like yours, events are a primary source of income, so it’s critically important to elevate your event value proposition to increase attendance, sponsorships, lead generation strategies and pre- and post-event marketing opportunities. Here are a few tips from our experts:
For every organization that suddenly had to convert all of their events to virtual due to the pandemic, it was a significant learning experience. But many organizations have been conducting virtual conferences and international meetings for years and have learned a few tricks along the way. What was once a series of speakers lecturing the audience, one after the other, has now evolved to a multimedia, engaging experience that can be an inviting and fulfilling alternative to an in-person event.