How to Budget for Your Virtual Event
Across the events industry we are seeing event planners cancelling face-to-face events right up until 2021 amongst new COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. However, this shift in focus has shone the light on the effectiveness of virtual events; all over the world people are realising that you can get just as much value from hosting on a virtual platform.
This means that more and more event planners are now tasked with the challenge of planning, implementing and ensuring the smooth running of virtual and hybrid events. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of delivering all pre-determined content to a digital audience, instead there’s a lot that you should consider before diving straight in.
UKSV has been utilising virtual events for over 10 years, well before COVID-19! We really understand the value they deliver and have picked up a few do’s and don’t’s along the way!
One aspect of the virtual event that some planners struggle with is the budget. It’s important to recognise that budgeting for any event is no easy feat, and when it comes to virtual events you need to completely rethink your budgeting strategy.
The great news is that these types of events no longer require some of the bigger expenses such as venue hire, catering, or accommodation which means that with the right strategy you have an opportunity to see more return on investment and utilise your existing budget more effectively.
A well-managed budget is one of the key ingredients of hosting a successful virtual event, and with a little bit of research and planning it really isn’t as complicated as it sounds!
Your virtual budgeting strategy can be condensed into the following list:
- The virtual platform
- Your speakers
- Your promotional and marketing materials
- Virtual ‘goody bags’
Not so fast…
Before you get into budgeting for the really exciting stuff, a good event strategy begins with the definition of what success for this event looks like (this goes for any and all event planning!).
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the main goal of this event?
How will you achieve this?
What will success for this particular event look like?
Once you’ve given this some thought, you should also think about Key Performance Indicators and define a way of tracking this success in a quantifiable way. Create goalposts for things that are important to you such as impressions, leads, revenue, and/or profit and continue to track these metrics throughout your event.
As soon as you’ve got this covered and all your team are onboard, you can start thinking about the individual costs that you will need to include in your budgeting plan.
The first cost you need to consider is the virtual platform you will be using. The platform you choose depends entirely on your event and what you want to get out of it. Different platforms offer different things, so if networking or interactivity is a big part of your event, ensure your chosen platform has these capabilities. Different platforms also offer different levels of personalisation and branding, so if you’re hosting an internal event you may use a different platform than if you were hosting an external event.
At UKSV we can work with any platform, so if you want some completely unbiased advice on this front, get in touch with us.
If you plan on doing some research of your own however, think about what platform can offer you all the features you need while not asking you to pay for features you don’t need.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a technical support team to assist you on the day… even simple technology can go awry sometimes! A good tech team will be ready for any technical problems that arise, helping you to get back to your agenda quickly before your digital audience mentally (and physically) check out (learn more about audience engagement here!).
Promotion and Marketing
Just as with live events, you need to market and promote your virtual event, taking the cost of this into consideration.
Think about the collateral that you need for your event. Are you in need of some video or well-designed presentation slides to keep your audience engaged?
What about your speakers? Are they presenting live or would you rather have them filmed by a professional team and uploaded as a video? All of these questions largely impact your budgeting.
Once again, it all comes down to your event and what you wish to achieve. A more professional virtual event may cost more, but they usually offer attendees more value and entertainment which makes them more likely to return.
We’re all pretty tired of Zoom-type events now, aren’t we? Capture your audience’s imagination with more original content creation!
Like any good event, your virtual or hybrid event needs a great agenda to encourage attendees to sign up or buy a ticket!
An added bonus of the virtual or hybrid event is that you can now access a global network of speakers who can dial in from anywhere in the world. Not only this, but a talk via the web is likely to cost you less than an in-person talk meaning you may now be able to hire the speaker you’ve always dreamed of having but didn’t think you could afford!
When picking a speaker, try to find speakers relevant to your event who your attendees simply can’t miss. Not only will this encourage ticket sales, it will also increase your ROI if you can score a great speaker at a great price.
Virtual Goody Bags
In simpler times, live events would often send attendees away with a goody bag filled with branded items and little mementos of the day. So, why stop tradition?
I know what you’re thinking… sending goody bags to each attendees’ home sounds like a logistical nightmare, but there are other ways to thank your virtual audience for dialling in. We’ve had some events where we’ve sent out food and drink gift vouchers ahead of the event allowing people to still have a meal together, just under different circumstances. These little additions are what will make your event stand out and will help build brand rapport.
While budgeting for a virtual event can seem like a difficult task, all indicators suggest that these types of events will be prominent in the events industry for many years to come! Budgeting successfully for a virtual event may even allow you to save a good amount of money and increase your ROI, all while providing value to your attendees. It’s a win-win!
If you want some guidance or more information on virtual budgeting, you can get in contact with us!