Virtual platforms help cut costs and engage delegates

Virtual platforms help cut the cost of events and engage delegates at internal events, and extend the reach of external events.

Speaking at C&IT’s Corporate Forum yesterday, James Bedford, project manager European marketing at Cisco, explained how the company had embraced virtuality in corporate venues to make massive savings.

“In late 2008 our world changed and we started to re-evaluate what we were spending our money on,” said Bedford. “We decided that all internal events would be virtual and all external would be hybrid.”

Bedford explained that offering free registration as a virtual guest encouraged people to attend a physical event.

He was originally worried that the move to virtual reality would cannibalise physical attendance, but in the past year 15,000 people signed up as a free guest delegate and 952 paid to be a premier registrant.

Cisco used video to capture data on delegates who visited the physical stands at exhibitions, which “was a good way of ensuring a focus at the right times”.

As well as saving money for the hosts, virtual events cut costs for delegates too who save on their transport costs. It’s also good PR for the event, as it can be marketed as environmentally friendly as fewer people will be contributing to pollution or traffic by attending the event. The trick is to pick corporate venues that offer cutting edge AV technology, and ones which have the capacity to be transformed into virtual events for delegates who can’t attend.

Working out how much to charge for virtual events can be an issue, explained Bedford. Cisco deduced that virtual delegates who registered for free could access the event as it happened, but premier registrants could pay $395 a year and have access to a library of content at any time. Those who physically attended events could access the library material for free, for a year.

“Don’t underestimate how much work goes into a virtual event,” warned Bedford, highlighting the importance of booking an innovative event venue to engage guests and those attending in a virtual manner.