How to monetise your virtual event

Europe Features Tech
How to monetise your virtual event

By Swapcard CEO Baptiste Boulard

New research conducted by Swapcard provides some crucial tips for monetising virtual exhibitions and conferences and seizing that ‘golden moment’

Online event platform Swapcard published a new report, ‘The Business of Virtual Events’, to mark Global Meetings Industry Day on 8 April.

The guide provides detailed advice and takeaways on how to monetise virtual events, addressing topics such as the event lifecycle, sponsorships and exhibitor management.

The results are taken from an analysis of virtual events that took place on the Swapcard platform in 2020. These comprised 461 virtual events between April and December 2020, with 51,843 total exhibitors and 1,608,060 total attendees.

One thing the report found was that pre-event was the best time to generate leads. In the days leading up to virtual tradeshows, 36% of people’s time on the platform was spent browsing exhibitors and products. A staggering 95% of overall leads were generated in the pre-event period for 1-day shows. For 2-day shows that figure reached 80%, while 3-day shows saw 60% of leads generated pre-event. 

A ‘key takeaway’ from the report reads: “Organisers should open the platform ahead of time and implement an effective communication strategy that urges exhibitors and attendees alike to utilise the platform in the days or weeks leading up to the event. The pre-event period is the golden moment for closing business.”

When looking at the time spent on the Swapcard platform, the report overwhelmingly found that watching sessions was the most frequent activity. 80% of people’s time in virtual exhibitions was spent watching sessions, with only 5% dedicated to networking – further proof that pre-event lead generation is crucial.

As well as highlighting the importance of the pre-event, the report demonstrates that a year-round approach to the event life cycle is the most lucrative. Messages and requests from attendees to exhibitors peaked after the live show – a clear sign that an open platform which can still facilitate business after the event is the best option.

Surprising statistics

One surprising finding from the data is that 41.8% of all inbound business opportunities are missed by exhibitors who do not respond to messages on the platform. Usually this is because exhibitors stop monitoring their inboxes post-event.

Another ‘key takeaway’ reads: “Organisers have the responsibility to clearly communicate with exhibitors the need to be fully engaged and alert on the platform. They should also allocate resources to delivering value for exhibitors, such as training sessions on using the platform.”

Among other findings in the data was that investing in visibility on the event schedule provided the highest amount of leads for exhibitors. Schedules are seen by 52% of attendees at virtual tradeshows, and 59% of virtual conferences. They are also regularly visited throughout the duration of the event. Organisers should consider this as prime real estate for sponsorship packages. 

Finally, two days was suggested as the optimum length for virtual events. Data showed that the highest number of leads were generated in the first day of the event, and each day afterwards saw significant drop off. “The longer the event, the less business is closed after day two,” says the report.

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