Breathe New Life into Your Meetings

Posted: Sep 15, 2020
Leadership Tapping the Long-Term Potential of Virtual Meetings

Invigorate Your Meetings by Creating a Long-term Virtual Environment Infrastructure

The COVID-19 global pandemic has obviously caused tremendous disruption to the normal business operations of virtually every organization, but even now we should be thinking about the positive, long-term developments that arise from this temporary chaos. One such change is the growing acceptance of virtual meetings to augment, even replace, traditional in-person meetings moving forward.


We probably all have an awkward or funny anecdote we could share about the early days of the pandemic when just about everyone was taking a crash course in videoconferencing applications. As the weeks and months passed, however, we became more comfortable with the applications' functionality, to the point where virtual meetings have become standard procedures in offices across the country.


This growing acceptance has opened the door for association leaders to tap virtual meeting technology not only to connect with and re-engage members, but also to resurrect revenue streams and at a lower cost than traditional, in-person gatherings and take advantage of the benefits of virtual meetings even when regular in-person gatherings are back as the norm.


The New Look of Meetings

A report published in June 2020 by advertising consultancy The 614 Group found about a quarter of marketing professionals (27%) don't expect attendance at in-person events to return to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, just more than half of marketers (51%) think live gatherings will likely continue to have a virtual element even after the health crisis subsides.


We're already seeing organizations taking advantage of virtual meetings. Recently, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), a Vanguard client, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a virtual conference, EN20X — A Virtual Xperience , that replaced its annual in-person meeting. Rather than miss marking this important milestone, ENA put together three days of events, education sessions, and a virtual exhibit hall filled with the association's partners.


The ENA event also provides benefits beyond its three-day run. Much of the content and materials presented during the conference were archived and accessible on-demand to conference registrants long after the conference ended.


The Benefits of Virtual Meetings

The value you're able to continue to deliver to members and the treasure trove of content accessible 24 x 7 x 365 through your website are just two of the benefits of virtual meetings. Other pluses include:

  • Cost savings: Virtual meetings eliminate travel costs for both staff and attendees. For the host organization, the savings extend beyond that to the costs of securing a venue and providing catering and logistics services, as well as the time your staff spends on organizing and hosting the event. All that time and money saved can be or applied to your meeting marketing efforts to cast a wider net for attendees.
  • Greater attendance: In addition to attracting a larger pool of attendees, lower overall attendee costs should lead to more conversions from this larger pool to attend your virtual meeting. Plus, removing room occupancy limits and making archived content available through your website at convenient times means more attendee eyeballs on the content you provide as well as on your sponsors.
  • Convenience: No travel speaks for itself from a convenience aspect, but since the entire meeting is presented virtually sessions — exhibitors — don’t need to be attended or visited at designated times but rather when it's most convenient for attendees.
  • Revenue generation: Registration and ancillary event fees can still be charged for attending the virtual meeting. In addition, numerous options for sponsorship will remain. Virtual exhibit halls allow ongoing exposure for your existing sponsors beyond the actual dates of the event. Plus, if you leverage archived content, sponsorship duration can be lengthened and content can have an associated charge for it.
  • Familiarity: Aside from the opportunities for face-to-face meetings and the social aspects that traditional conferences offer, all the other key components can be represented at a virtual meeting, including educational sessions, networking events, and an exhibit hall.


    The global health crisis has disrupted many aspects of business, particularly the ability to travel and attend meetings. But turmoil often leads to new, even unforeseen, opportunities. Virtual meetings offer organizations long term ability to continue to provide value to attendees while reducing costs and restarting diminished revenue streams.

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Michael Wiley

President Vanguard Technology