Why Buyers Should Attend Virtual Events

With everyone’s busy schedules, not to mention travel and gathering restrictions due to the pandemic, industry professionals may find themselves unable to attend in-person events. Some might not have the time to spend away from the office. Others might not be able to take time away from their job due to company restrictions on travel.

These obstacles don’t negate the need for continuing education and networking opportunities. What can you do when travel isn’t possible but you still want to get out of the office and see how your industry peers are solving common problems?

Attend a virtual event! Virtual or online events are an affordable way to learn from industry experts when a large travel budget isn’t your reality. They offer a convenient way to meet with others without leaving your home or office. Thanks to the 2020 pandemic, virtual events are becoming more sophisticated in their delivery of content. Plus, virtual events have proven they’re here to stay as an alternative to those that can’t (or prefer not to) attend in person.

Let’s explore the benefits of attending a virtual event.

What are virtual events?

Virtual events are web-based events that contain many similarities to on-site, in-person events. They became popular during the late 2000s because they offered an economical way to bring thousands of attendees from all over the world to an event. Virtual events allow users to interact with companies or peers from the comfort of their home, office or a nearby coffee shop through chat or video conferencing.

With the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events became necessary as governments issued stay-at-home orders and millions of people began working from home.

They can be used for purposes such as career fairs, discussion forums, networking or coaching. To attend or host a virtual event, all that is needed is an internet connection and a device to access the Internet. Most platforms are compatible to access through a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Benefits of attending a virtual event

Before we delve into the benefits of attending a virtual event, let’s acknowledge the obvious: Virtual events aren’t the same as in-person events. You won’t replicate the excitement and anticipation of a packed lobby or lounge pulsing with music and chatter as you and fellow attendees meet and network. There are no chance meetings with industry idols at the coffee station, no spending quality time with fellow industry peers over a meal, and no retreating to your hotel room to relax and focus on next steps for the connections you’ve just made. 

But there are many benefits for professionals like you when attending a virtual event:

Save significant time

Virtual events require much less time to plan for and attend than traditional in-person events. With no travel required, you’re not wasting time driving or waiting in the security line at the airport. Just log on to your computer or device, enter your event credentials and you’re there. If you work in an industry that is more customer service-oriented or uses billable hours, the time savings virtual events offer can more than make up for the monetary cost of attending.

Save professional expenses

Because there are no logistics related to travel, hotels and food, virtual events reduce the monetary cost to attend. Most virtual events cost a few hundred dollars or less. Buyer attendance at exchange events is free, in-person or virtual. But when you attend a virtual event from home or the office, there’s no additional cost for childcare, pet care, or other personal expenses related to being away for a few days.

Meet more people

This might sound counterintuitive, but consider this: At an in-person event, time and space constraints limit you to being in one place at one time. If meeting rooms are spread out over a sprawling campus, or vendors are holding parties in different areas of the host city, chances are you can only attend one, maybe two, sessions happening concurrently. (And you’ll miss either the front- or tail-end of each.)

But at a virtual event, you can cover a lot of ground with just a few clicks. It’s easy to meet with as many vendors as you want when navigating a virtual meeting hall means browsing the list of suppliers present and clicking into them for a quick chat or demo. You can spend more time chatting with others in virtual lounges or lobbies because there’s no need to leave enough time to walk into a ballroom and find a seat. Many virtual event hosts sponsor daily coffee chats or happy hours to help attendees mingle. Plenty of organizations are starting to offer themed chat spaces around job roles or common challenges to help like-minded people find each other and forge better connections.

At an exchange event, buyers can meet with more suppliers because a virtual model means more are likely to be able to attend. You can take a few meetings during the day as your normal work schedule allows and without having to be officially out of the office. Plus, a wider variety of suppliers are able to attend virtual exchange events because the time savings of attending virtually means less time away from their daily work responsibilities.

Try a new way of doing business

2020 taught most companies that change is possible. The jolt to remote work taught many professionals new ways of creating, problem-solving and networking. Virtual meetings used to be a once-in-a-while, learn-it-then-forget-it occasion. But now that they’ve become ubiquitous, from one-on-one Zoom or Google Hangout sessions to premium platform-based virtual events that host thousands, individuals have added online meetings to their skillsets. Companies can take advantage of the time and financial savings virtual meetings present by adopting virtual meetings as part of their standard sales or project protocol. Thanks to built-in video components as well as the ability to record for later reference, the first round of introductions or project meetings can easily be completed virtually. These virtual meetings can lay the groundwork for more comprehensive in-person meetings later. Quick meetings for clarification can also take place online instead of in-person now that most parties will know how to jump on a virtual meeting with short notice. The time and financial savings of doing business this way are a big win.

Be compensated for your time

In-person exchange events are typically held at a luxury resort, and buyers attend for free. Because a virtual exchange event cannot come with the luxury experience of meeting in-person, companies like Global Exchange Events offer monetary compensation for buyers to meet with sellers during a virtual exchange event. After the virtual exchange event, buyers can choose between cash or a donation to their favorite charity. It’s a win-win for buyers!

Better balance work and family responsibilities

Sometimes it’s not your company’s policies that prevent you from attending a far-away conference, it’s your responsibilities at home. When family must come first, virtual events can allow you to keep up with your industry anyway. Most online events offer small breaks in between sessions plus a longer lunch or dinner break, letting you attend to pets, kids, elderly parents or others under your care.

If you’re only able to attend part of the day live, it’s common for virtual event hosts to make recordings of sessions available to attendees for later (or repeat) viewing for a limited amount of time after the event – typically 30 days, but sometimes longer.

The event is virtual but the benefits are real

Virtual events offer convenience and flexibility for attendees and can be a welcome, practical addition to your professional development agenda. The cost savings can be passed on to other team members so they can attend educational events too. Virtual events offer an easy way to participate on a schedule you can customize to your daily responsibilities. The next time you’re reviewing your event attendance plans, consider attending as a virtual participant. The event might be virtual, but the benefits are real.