Learn the various ways Stephan Forseilles from Easyfairs suggests organizers monetize hybrid and online events.
The forced and painful business shift that has taken place over the last 8 months may have a silver lining: accelerated implementation of technology by event organizers as they focus on delivering data enriched, qualified leads to sponsors and a better, more personalized customer journey to audience members. With the customer journey taking place across digital platforms, virtual events and soon to be hybrid events, how does one go about monetizing these events?
During our Virtual Shake-Up 2.0 event, Stephan Forseilles discussed the challenges of monetization in a virtual environment and offered a variety of ways that allowed him and his team atEasyfairs to overcome these obstacles. Read below to learn three main ways to monetize your next hybrid or online event in 2021.
Key Learning 1: Use Your Speakers to Drive Ticket Sales
Ticket sales continue to be a large revenue stream for both online and physical events. Whether it be listening to speeches or interacting with keynotes, customers will pay to see speakers either for educational or inspirational purposes. However, high-level speakers need to be paid, which requires event organizers to sell a certain number of tickets in order to maximize return on investment. Therefore, there is a level of risk associated with hiring top-tier speakers because they need to generate the desired outcome in ticket sales. Stephan describes the speakers at ticketed events as usually falling into three categories price-wise:
Tier 1 - Superstars: These speakers may include movie stars, musicians, star athletes, or influencers.
Tier 2 - Industry stars: These speakers may include CEOs, founders, or individuals with relevant experience at a high level who are well-known within the industry.
Tier 3 - Vertical experts: These speakers are niche experts in your event’s topic who can conduct trainings and give presentations.
In terms of ticket pricing,Stephansees this falling into four categories:
Large audience, expensive tickets: Event organizers usually aim for this category but it is difficult to break into.
Large audience, inexpensive tickets: Some examples of events in this category include WebSummit and Collision. These events offer cheaper tickets while having a larger audience. At the extreme scale, there are even free events that are mostly large corporate events put on by companies like Google or Apple. These types of events are not made to make money but instead sell hardware and services to the event attendees.
Small audience, expensive tickets: Some example events include WSJ Live and TED. While the tickets are more expensive, the audience is more exclusive.
Small audience, inexpensive tickets: It is harder to draw attendees to events in this category and Stephan does not recommend them.
Key Learning 2: Monetize Your Generated Leads
Another monetization strategy is to have exhibitors pay for the leads they acquire through their participation in the event. In order to convince them that doing so is worthwhile, event organizers must analyze and utilize the customer behavior data from the event to generate a subset of leads that fits the exhibitor’s ideal target. So, instead of giving the exhibitor the full list of attendees for them to do mass outreach to, they are provided with a smaller list of attendees who are the most likely to interact with their product or service. This targeted approach is not only beneficial to the sponsor because the leads they’re provided with are data enriched, but it is also beneficial to the attendees, who do not want to feel bombarded or oversold to by all of the exhibitors from the conference.
Key Learning 3: Create a Community Among Your Attendees
During an event, there is a lot of interaction between attendees and exhibitors along with their products and services. It is crucial to understand how all of these groups interact and work together whether it be by having shared interests or learning from their discussions with one another. After analyzing the dynamics of each group, you can then create a community where members drive engagement in the following:
Consuming educational and inspirational content
Networking with industry peers
Having fun at the event
Finding solutions for their company
Hiring new personnel in their organization
Finding a new career path or opportunity
There are several ways to devise a monetization strategy for these communities. You can create memberships, sell advertisements, and most importantly, gather data on the community. Once you fully understand the dynamics of the community, you can start creating things like sponsored search results, targeted advertisements, and marketplaces and more clearly define lead generation and specific sponsorship integration opportunities. Many B2C companies such as LinkedIn, Amazon, YouTube, and Facebook, etc. are now utilizing this strategy as they create communities of their own.
Additional Highlights From Stephan Forseilles’s Session:
Question: Even with countries starting to allow events with security and social distancing measures in place, do you feel companies might not want to send people to in-person events yet? Answer: Yes, I’m pretty sure that companies will continue to prevent people or employees from going to events. As an event organizer, Easyfairs has seen this a lot with our exhibitors, who say they don’t feel comfortable sending a handful of their people to a live event where they’d be exposed to large crowds over multiple days. I understand that and I totally respect that, but there are a lot of things as an industry that we can do to reassure them of protocols that we can put in place and make our constituents feel secure. I’ve been working on that personally. That said, it will take some time and we will likely never get back to where we were.
Question: Do you think the online element of hybrid should have virtual live streams or just be about networking and community? Answer: Honestly, you should have live streams. I believe that it is still what drives people to make time for the event. Attendees expect that they will watch something on their computer and then start to network. I have participated in a lot of events and the way I see the networking piece working best is when it is woven in between streamed sessions because it allows the user to go back and forth between the content and the meetings. The biggest challenge is keeping people engaged with the sessions so they continue watching them on the platform.
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More About Stephan Forseilles
Stephan Forseilles is acting as CTO / Head of Technology and Digital Transformation of Easyfairs. He is responsible for supervising the strategic development of the company's technology solutions and digital transformation. He is also a keynote speaker at numerous conferences and events related to Digital and Technology and is part of UFI’s Digital Innovation Workgroup. Prior to working in the exhibition industry, Stephan was CIO/CTO in the telecoms industry.
Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn orcontact us for an introduction.