Organizing a virtual event can be a cost-effective alternative to a traditional in-person event. But how much does it cost to run a virtual event? This is a question that many event planners are asking as they look to create engaging virtual experiences for their audiences. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which platform is right for you.
Virtual Events are the Future of Event Planning – But How Much Does it Cost to Run a Virtual Event?
There are many different factors that go into the cost of a virtual event, such as the platform you use, the number of attendees, the type of event you’re hosting, add-on features, level of support during set up and live days.
Virtual Event Platform Pricing Models
First, let’s talk about the platform. There are a lot of different virtual event platforms out there, and they all have different pricing models. Some charge per event, while others charge a yearly fee. Some charge per registrant or attendee, while others charge a flat rate for a fixed number of attendees. It’s important to research different platforms and compare pricing to find the one that works best for your event and budget.
Next, consider the number of attendees. The more attendees you have, the more it will cost to run your virtual event. This is because you’ll need more bandwidth, more customer support, and more resources to handle the influx of people. Make sure you have a clear idea of how many people you expect to attend your event so you can budget accordingly.
For small events with fewer than 250 participants, the cost of a virtual event is typically between $3,000 – $15,000. This cost includes the software, hosting, webinars, and customer service. The cost can increase if additional features are added such as a closed captioning for sessions, language translation, payment processing, or extra support.
For larger events with more than 500 participants, the cost of a virtual event can range from $5,000 to $30,000.
There are generally three categories of virtual event platforms:
1) 2D virtual event platforms – Are easy to use and fast to deploy. Attendees can watch keynote talks, attend breakout sessions, engage within workshops, interact with virtual exhibitors, network with groups or individuals, answer polls, download materials, and participate in live chats. 2D virtual event platforms have the look and feel of static webpages with limited customization.
Recommended: Organizations that want a virtual event that is much better than a bunch of Zoom meetings but have less than $10K budget.
2) 3D virtual event platforms – These platforms feature stunning 3D designs that mimic an in-person experience. This combined with expansive engagement features help you create an elevated virtual event experience for your audience that wows guests.
Recommended: Organizers that want to deliver a 3D virtual experience with powerful engagement that wows attendees.
3) 3D virtual event platforms with avatars (Metaverse) – Attendees can use their mouse or keypad to move around a metaverse style virtual environment and interact with other attendees via their own personal avatar. No special hardware or software is required. Works with any modern browser.
Recommended: Events that require a wow factor and/or in replicating an in-person event as much as possible is a key goal.
The Primary Drivers For Choosing Virtual Event Platform
With so many different options out there, it can be difficult to decide which platform is the best fit for your virtual event. To help you choose the right platform for your needs, here are some key factors to consider when selecting a virtual event platform.
- Budget: Consider your budget and the features you need before committing to any particular platform.
- Resources: How much time and resources both you and the booth sponsors have to set up the virtual environment. The 2D platforms can be set up fast. The 3D platform, on the other hand, takes a bit more time and effort for you and the booth sponsors since it has way more customization/design options.
- Customization and the overall attendee experience that you want to deliver: Some organizations want the virtual attendees to “feel” like they are at the in-person event. In this case they prefer the 3D platform option where we can create a customized lobby, etc. that looks and feels like the in-person venue. On the other hand, many organizations want a simpler experience that is easy to set up.
- Security: Security is a major concern when it comes to virtual events, and you should ensure that the platform you choose offers robust security measures. Look for a platform that encrypts data, offers two-factor authentication, and has a secure chat feature. Additionally, make sure the platform has a backup system in case of any data loss or technical difficulties.
- Support: Finally, make sure the platform you choose offers responsive customer support. Look for a provider that offers live chat and telephone support, as well as tutorials and resources. Make sure to check their website to see if they list any phone numbers to call. If the provider does not list any contact phone numbers, this is a major red flag.
Type of Event
Now let’s talk about the type of event you are planning. Are you hosting a webinar, a conference, or a virtual trade show with exhibitor booths? Each type of event has its own unique costs associated with it. For example, a webinar may only require a single speaker, while a conference may require multiple speakers and breakout sessions. A virtual trade show may require virtual booths and interactive features. Make sure you understand the costs associated with the type of event you’re planning.
Other Virtual Event Costs
Lastly, it’s important to budget for additional costs such as marketing, technical support, language translation, and other miscellaneous expenses. These costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to factor them into your overall budget. For example, a virtual photo booth typically adds $1,200 to a virtual event. If you are bringing in speakers, don’t forgot about speaker fees.
Now that you have a better understanding of the costs associated with virtual events, here are a few actionable tips to help you keep costs down:
- Choose a virtual event platform with a pricing model that works for your budget. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare pricing from different platforms.
- Be realistic about the number of attendees you expect. This will help you budget for the resources you’ll need to handle the influx of people. The average attendance rate for a virtual event is around 50%. In other words, if you expect 1,000 people to register, you can expect around 500 to actually attend the live event. Attendance rate increases, of course, if you are charging a fee to join.
- Think about your audience and what their unique needs are. Is it a global audience that might require language translation? Do you need to comply with ADA guideline and include closed captioning? Are you issuing CE credits? Do you need a platform that supports concurrent tracks for sessions?
- Do you want to include add-on’s to make your event stand-out such as a virtual photo booth, scavenger hunt, magic show, etc.?
- Understand the costs associated with the type of event you’re planning. This will help you budget for the unique expenses associated with that type of event.
In conclusion, the cost of a virtual event can vary greatly depending on the platform you use, the number of attendees, and the type of event you’re hosting. However, by keeping the above tips in mind, you can produce a virtual event that fits your needs and your budget. With the right technology partner and proper planning, they can be just as successful as in-person events.
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