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Which Event Technology Delivers The Best ROI?

ROI DialToday, I was asked to pick ONE event technology that offers the best ROI for events.

The questioner didn’t want to hear –“well there are several choices depending on your needs – blah, blah, blah.” He wanted one answer. He wanted it on the spot.

For me, this was gut-check time. So – I blurted out: Virtual meetings and hybrid events.

I made a good choice. Though, I imagine some of you are thinking that I must be riding the crazy-train to loony land.

So, here’s the deal. I will share the reasoning for my choice below. Then, I need you to push back. Pick an event technology that you think offers a better ROI and make your case.

GE Telepresence Center

Why I Chose Virtual Meetings & Hybrid Events

This event format is building communities and including more people in events than ever before and doing it for less.

Save Money

Cisco recently reported that they cut their event expenses by 90% by hosting a virtual meeting. It makes sense – when you host a virtual event you avoid travel, venue and F&B charges, etc.  GE is using massive 60 person Telepresence centers to avoid long distance travel and save money. One executive traveling to Asia for a meeting can cost more than $30,000 and more than 6000 pounds of carbon emissions.

Include More People

Another powerful benefit is using the hybrid format as a compliment to a face-to-face event to include more people. Here are two examples:

Drive Virtual Attendees to Face-to-Face

Equally important, I think using virtual as a compliment to face-to-face is good for your event. Imagine using virtual activities to drive people to your face-to-face event. 34% of the Cisco virtual attendees reported that they would like to attend a face-to-face event in the future.

A Word of Caution!

Virtual events are not right for all meetings. Forbes recently published a report on “Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face Meetings.” In that report they interviewed 750 business executives that agreed that Virtual Events are best for “Presenting Data” and “Information Dissemination.” In all other cases, the executives agreed that Face-to-Face meetings were the best solution.

Bottom Line

Virtual & hybrid events offer event planners another way to connect to a larger community, drive attendees to your face-to-face events, save money and reduce carbon emissions.   Sounds like a great ROI to me?

Ok – the floor is yours – Make your case.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Samuel, Thanks for your thoughtful post regarding virtual meetings and events. I would like to respond to the Forbes report about business meetings and the case for face-to-face.

    We had posted a response on our blog (http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/virtual-augments-face-to-face-%e2%80%93-reply-to-forbes-and-hsmai-surveys/). Our perspective is that virtual can augment the overall experience and facilitate initial introductions and networking that would then be taken face-to-face. As the Forbes report stated:

    “Web-, video- and teleconferencing have their role, but the executives in the survey do not expect them to make the need for face-to-face meetings obsolete. Rather, many see the ideal as a mix of face-to-face and technology-enabled meetings and conferences. (Fig. 9)”

    Overall, our post highlighted five ways that virtual can augment face-to-face: social networking, put names with faces, more time for attendees to speak with speakers/vendors, training and real-time conversations.

    Thanks again!
    Cece, InXpo

    November 4, 2009
    • Hi Cece!

      Thanks for your comment. Your post is well written and provides some great points. [Other readers should take the time to click the link.]

      Also, your comment reminds me that I did not make a couple of things clear:

      (1) In no way did I intend to say that virtual events should ONLY be used for “Presenting Data” OR “Information Dissemination” – I was just reporting that the execs all felt that those “type” of events are BEST as virtual events.

      (2) When it comes to virtual – I am a super-fan of the hybrid model that combines the virtual with face2face. I think that this is really the way forward.

      Thanks again for your comments. I appreciate your point of view and input!

      – Sam

      November 4, 2009
  2. What a great question! I am paying attention to this as I am introducing my own technology to the meeting space.

    The answer of virtual meetings to maximize ROI is compelling and who can argue with cutting expenses by 90% in this current economy!

    I am also curious about how to measure the Return? The Investment is easy to measure! A Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/globaltravel-face (like the Forbes report) advocates the ROI of face-to-face meetings. They quote metrics claiming that $1 invested in face-to-face meeting results in $3.80 profit (don’t ask me how they came up with that!)

    One way I think we can increase Return is to increase engagement of all the attendees and the connections between them. What other ways do you measure Return?

    I have seen twitter used to encourage attendees to participate and technologies like mingle360.com can help attendees connect. Technology can also have a negative effect as you talk about in the Blackberry prayer!

    My own technology is designed for face-to-face events. It delivers engagement and connection, by simply making visible the faces of the people, and sharing their answers to questions that are selected specifically to engage people with the meeting purpose and to facilitate connection.

    I believe we offer a technology which provide an outstanding ROI and would welcome your feedback.

    Cheers

    Paul, WeaveThePeople.com

    November 4, 2009
    • Hi Paul –

      Thanks for sharing the WSJ article – that is a great resource!

      In regards to your questions – Officially there is an Event ROI measurement methodology that measures ROI via satisfaction, learning, financial return, etc. It has a 5 step method and event organizers choose how far or how much they want to measure. You can learn more here: http://www.roiinstitute.net/

      When it comes to measuring the return on investment from the onsite interactions and networking value at conference – I think that is more difficult to calculate an ROI. One of the challenges is the discussion of who benefits and who pays. The organizer pays you to provide your technology to an event – but it is the attendee that benefits from the technology tools.

      Thanks again for your comment. I will checkout your product!

      – Sam

      November 9, 2009
      • Thank you! Thank you! If only your message could be heard and acted on by meeting planners worldwide. Hybrid Events are definitely the wave of the future and I love the fact that when pressured to speak, you blurted out “Virtual and Hybrid Events”.

        As a developer of a leading 3D platform for Virtual and Hybrid events for conferences, the responses that we are getting to our services are simply unprecedented. Not only the cost savings, but the engagement levels, the time away from home, the ease of use and the ability to reach the world. We are calling our Hybrid Events “An overflow Room for the World”!

        If you haven’t been to one of our 3D, and I mean 3D, avatar based events you must try one out. Register at http://www.virtualbeginnings.com.
        I hope to see you there.
        Jim

        November 12, 2009
  3. Great article. We’ve seen blended in-person and virtual events really taking off in the last few months. Another aspect of the ROI is selling “virtual tickets” to attendees who missed out on the initial face-to-face conference or just didn’t know about the initial face-to-face conference and can now “attend” online after the face.

    November 7, 2009
  4. Hi John,

    Thanks for your comment. As someone that attends a lot of conferences through the virtual access – I do feel like there are more-and-more of these events than there were before.

    Also, I would be very interested in learning more about the virtual tickets. Can you send me some information or point me to a link on it?

    Thanks again!

    – Sam

    November 9, 2009

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