There’s no getting away from the fact that conferences were always going to be one of the hardest hit types of event in this global pandemic. Lots of people congregating and networking in one place (plus lots of hand shaking) meant there was no choice but to either make the hard decision to postpone, or to shift to an online model.
Now that more time has passed, and timelines are starting to become a bit clearer, it’s leading organisers of conferences and other business events to ask – what’s next, and how can I start generating revenue?
Pricing models for conferences have traditionally been quite consistent up until now, with ticket prices and sponsorship being the go-to for generating profit. Now the world of conferences and trade shows is faced with a new set of challenges and considerations for how we run events. This has led to some interesting discussions and new ideas popping up for how revenue generation could evolve. We chatted with two conference organisers on our most recent Event Creators Collective webinar, and here are some of the main themes that came up:
No longer just for profit
One big theme that has bubbled up during the time of coronavirus is being creative in ways to raise money for charitable causes. Conferences are in a strong position of being a platform, and bringing large groups of people together (even if it’s virtually). This means they are great for fundraising. The additional benefits of doing things for a good cause, means you have more opportunity to land top speakers who are happy to give their time for a wider benefit.
Higher volume, cheaper tickets
In person conferences have long been an expensive investment for teams, usually only a small handful from a company are able to attend as a result. They can also be quite disruptive – having to fly multiple people to different countries, taking people out of their normal schedules. Coronavirus and the consequential advent of online conferences has proven that there’s an appetite to attend virtually. Not being restricted by venue capacity means conference organisers can now look at alternative pricing models, selling a higher volume of tickets at a cut price for accessing content online.
Content as a separate revenue generator
The opportunity to “attend” a conference virtually may be a new normal that comes out of the Covid crisis, but there is also a shift of wanting to access content on demand. This is starting to take shape with conference organisers offering a ticket type, or package, which simply just gives access to the content after the event. Allowing the ticket buyer to digest it in their own time, and within their own schedule or time-zone has the added benefit of opening up your conference to a more global audience.
New advertising platforms
An increase in online conferences means a whole new opportunity for advertising: more screen time. Without the switching of physical rooms, there is a perfect platform for selling advertising space in between speakers as people wait for them to start their talks. There’s a ton of room for creativity with this, and if you have higher attendees, you’ll be able to create bigger marketing packages for prime-time instream adverts.
Along with the opportunities to broaden the virtual footfall of a conference by offering cheaper or even free tickets online, comes the added benefit of being able to increase your database. Hosting events virtually gives event organisers and sponsors even more opportunity to sign up new leads and gather contact information through interactive experiences or by offering free trials or access to content.