For those seeking to reshape strategy in line with a changed economy or strengthen their primacy in the ever-developing digital world, virtual conferences provide a tantalizing alternative that foregoes face-to-face interaction in exchange for some distinct advantages.

Potential cost savings: Virtual events eliminate the need for team travel and hotel costs, and they save you from booking a snazzy venue. They might also pose less interference on staff productivity: There is no travel time, and team-member involvement can be easily ramped up or down during the day of the event as needed.

That said, virtual events certainly aren't free, and ancillary charges for additional attendees or extra features can quickly up the investment, so a full evaluation is necessary to calculate your true savings.

Broader reach: Given the absence of travel costs, there are fewer limitations on who can attend. Moreover, several virtual conferencing technologies allow the virtual environment to be translated into multiple languages so that a more global audience can be served.

Most platforms also make event content available on demand for months following the conference; as a result, scheduling conflicts or other emergencies have less of an impact on total attendance, and additional prospects can be reached over time.

Data tracking: It's much easier in the virtual world to identify who attends, how long they engage, and how and where they interact during the event—valuable information both for exhibitors and for the event host.

A smaller carbon footprint: Of course, less travel all around also contributes to a healthier environment and signifies a company's commitment to the larger global community.

In many ways, virtual conferences require the same level of effort as physical events:

  • There's still a need for strategy and selection of a theme.
  • In-demand content, knowledgeable speakers, and awareness-generating promotions all continue to play important roles.
  • Paid sponsorship becomes perhaps even more imperative as market forces trend toward a free-attendance model.
  • Finally, just like a physical event, putting it all together takes ample planning and time.

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via