• Popularity of Virtual Events Take Off

    If you think Vegas is the number one destination for a tradeshow or conference, think again. As companies continue to watch their budgets and try to reach a larger audience for fewer dollars, the ideal event location may be just a mouse click away.

    According to a recent survey from Unisfair, more marketers are taking their events virtual. Key findings of the research include:

    • 60% will increase spending on virtual events and environments in 2011, while 42% will decrease spending on physical events
    • 67% would like to host 10 or more virtual events this year
    • 87% predict hybrid (part physical, part virtual) events will represent at least half of all events in the next five years
    • 62% want the ability to attend a virtual event from a mobile device

    As marketers, one of our top reasons for hosting a virtual event is to generate leads. Think webinars. However, organizations aren’t limiting their use of technology just to that. In fact, over the next 12 months, survey respondents said they will host virtual events for a number of purposes, including:

    • Training (42%)
    • Customer engagement (36%)
    • Internal collaboration (34%)
    • Lead generation (29%)
    • Networking (8%)

    As you might imagine, saving money and increasing productivity are two of the primary drivers why organizations turn to virtual events. But one additional fact might surprise you: 24% of survey respondents say they can get the same or better results as a physical event for less effort.

    If you are starting to think virtual events might be right for your marketing program, there is a drawback: the participant’s level of engagement. For instance:

    • 58% of survey respondents cited the ability to multitask as the best part about attending a virtual event
    • 42% of respondents have attended virtual events from a variety of locales, including the car, the kitchen, a baseball game, the patio and a retail showroom
    • 14% find the ability to be “invisible” until they want to engage with colleagues or vendors to be a primary benefit of attending virtual events

    Whatever your goal may be – save a few dollars or be more productive – it may be worth it to poll your prospective audiences – customers, employees or partners – to gauge their interest in going virtual. It may turn out that meeting in cyberspace is more popular than a trip to Vegas!

    Star VanderHaar is Account Director at Arketi Group.  To view all company blogs go to Arketi Group blog site.

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