It’s no secret that in this day and age, everything’s going digital. Social distancing aside, advances in technology have been making it easier for meetings, events, communication — you name it — to be much more easily conducted online for years now. 

That said, is an online event, such as a virtual conference, something your association or chamber should consider? What exactly are the benefits of hosting a virtual conference? 

Well, as it turns out, there are several. Take a look! 

Benefit #1: They allow more people to potentially attend

Sometimes, in-person conferences can be difficult for people to attend. First, there’s the issue of having to get away from the office. Some people simply can’t swing that. But then, there’s also the issue of travel and hotel costs. Depending on where the conference is, some people can’t afford and/or justify that. A virtual conference eliminates those barriers, allowing more people to register and attend. (Plus, when it comes to networking, virtual conferences can be much less intimidating than in-person events — another draw for some people.)

Benefit #2: They can save you time and money, operationally

Think about how much time and money you spend planning an in-person conference. It’s a lot! Sure, virtual conferences still cost money, but not necessarily as much money. With a virtual event, you can cut back on costs for hotel room blocks, conference center rentals, food and drinks, onsite signage, and more.

Benefit #3: They can be even more engaging for attendees

One of the biggest roadblocks we see planners come to is: how do you engage attendees virtually? For one thing, taking traditional in-person engagement — a cocktail hour, the expo hall, icebreakers, etc. — to a virtual experience makes those pieces of your event easier to attend, too. (And, again, less costly!)

What’s more is, using a robust platform to host your virtual conference gives you flexibility to add more engagement without sacrificing your agenda. For example, you can make resources available to download, share videos and other content, and even introduce a chatroom where attendees can network and share ideas — all ways to engage attendees on their own time.

Benefit #4: They leave you with evergreen content (and something to leverage)

Last but not least, virtual conferences provide you with valuable content to use in the future. Because virtual conferences take place entirely online, everything can easily be recorded. That means your association or chamber can then use that content and information for years and years to come. Your attendees should, of course, be able to access that content for free, but as far as non-attendees go, you may want to consider leveraging that information as a source of non-dues revenue for your association. 

Ok, let’s say you’ve decided to host a virtual conference. What now? Where do you even begin when it comes to planning and executing?

Allow us to help! Check out our free guide below! It’s a step-by-step guide to ensure your online event (from the content to the technology) is a MAJOR hit! 

This article was originally published on 2/15/17; updated on 5/18/20 for added value.