2020 is going to be remembered for many things, not least of which will be the sudden surge in demand for products that became much more relevant during the global pandemic. From food delivery services to hand sanitizer, hair scissors, floor clings, and webcams, COVID-19 caused an almost overnight disruption to how we live and work. The meetings industry was no exception.
While gathering restrictions caused organizations to cancel or postpone their in-person conferences, meeting planners jumped on the opportunity to find alternative ways to deliver their events. Google reports that online searches for virtual event platforms increased by 1,977% in just one month!
At the time, these platforms were being used as a substitute to the live event experience—either to deliver livestream or on-demand session content. But as meetings begin to re-emerge as in-person events, is there still a need for a virtual event platform? Absolutely!
Rather than focusing so heavily on delivering a live or time-based event experience, the next generation of virtual event platforms will allow meeting planners to offer an evergreen library of on-demand or asynchronous conference content that delivers more value for the organization.
Goodbye “One-and-Done” Model of Conference Content
It wasn’t that long ago that attending a conference in person was the only way to access the educational content. While most organizations have been providing some form of online information, education, and other resources for at least the past two decades, conferences typically followed a “one-and-done” philosophy. Session presentations and other educational content may have been posted online after the event, but only for a short time. After that, the focus would shift to promoting content for the upcoming event.
It wasn’t until recently that more organizations have started recognizing that the value of this content extends well beyond the event—whether being held in-person or virtually, live or on-demand.
Transform Your Virtual Event Platform into a Year-Round Event Library
Conferences, by their very nature, are time-based. Regardless of how your event is being delivered—whether live or asynchronous—the content is typically going to be accessed by attendees within a specific window of time. If meeting planners can extend this window, they can increase the overall value of the event for attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors while potentially increasing revenue for the organization.
This is where the concept of an online library of conference content comes in.
Instead of using a virtual event platform to deliver a live or asynchronous event to virtual attendees, it can serve as a centralized place to deliver evergreen educational content to all stakeholders—conference participants, organization members, and industry members—long after the conference ends.
Here are just some of the benefits of providing a year-round library of conference content:
1. Creates additional value for registered attendees
One of the downsides of having concurrent sessions at a live event is that an attendee can’t physically attend all sessions they may be interested in. Using your virtual event platform to provide this same content after the event means your attendees have access to more content than ever before, for the same registration fee.
The amount of content you can feature at a live event is also restricted to what you can fit within the confines of the venue and the schedule. But if you use your virtual event platform as an on-demand library, the amount of content you feature is virtually limitless. You can add bonus content that is only available online to complement the live conference, such as short videos on a popular micro-topic, educational presentations from sponsors or exhibitors, and follow-up Q&A sessions with speakers.
Offering continued access throughout the year also supports deeper learning, as content can be accessed for as long and as often as necessary.
2. Increases value for sponsors and exhibitors
When you provide a year-round library of conference content, the exposure your sponsors and exhibitors pay for doesn’t have to end when the conference does. Because users will continue to access the platform for on-demand content, you’re also increasing the opportunity for year-round brand visibility.
You can also provide additional opportunities that may not be possible at the live event, such as bonus on-demand educational videos or pre-recorded webinars created by your sponsors.
3. Provides an additional source of revenue
Access to your library of conference content doesn’t need to be limited to registered attendees. Consider creating a paid subscription tier for members and/or the general public as a new source of non-dues revenue for your organization.
Expand from Single Event to a Multi-Year, Multi-Event Resource
If you are considering keeping your event content online and accessible on a year-round basis, here’s, even more, to think about: this library doesn’t have to be limited to a single event. Some virtual event platforms offer the ability to feature content from your entire roster of annual events, and across multiple years, all from one, centralized hub. You can even set controls to limit access by year or event, so you protect the value of that content.