Many associations and nonprofit organizations rely on annual events like conferences and galas to generate a portion of their revenue. COVID-19 brought on a vast shift from in-person events to virtual formats, leaving organizations scrambling to plan for future gatherings.
With a history of helping nonprofits and associations navigate technology selection and implementation, our advisors have noticed that most organizations fail to take one key step before jumping into researching virtual event technology solutions.
This critical step is first outlining the core business objectives of your event to determine if a single virtual event will best accomplish your goals and meet the expectations of your constituents.
What are Business Objectives for Events?
Business objectives are the specific and measurable results companies hope to achieve when executing an event. Organizational leaders must clearly outline business objectives to allocate resources and determine the success of an event.
Some examples of business objectives for events include:
- Revenue of Event Exceeds Costs
- Budget for event
- Attendance revenue
- Sponsor revenue
- Sponsor cultivation — increased support from past meetings
- Core Benefits
- Educational offerings and credits
- Peer networking
- Career Center activities
- Member and volunteer awards and recognition
- Volunteer and business meetings
- Platform for launching new initiatives
- Attendee Attraction and Retention
- New participants and members
- Returning participants
- Member or donor acquisition
Why are Business Objectives Important?
Business objectives go further than just setting goals for an event. Objectives are meant to be measured on an ongoing basis, like your north star of event planning and execution.
When deciding if you should change your event from in-person to virtual, your business objectives will help guide selecting the most effective formats for the event.
How to Outline Your Organization’s Business Objectives
Outlining the business objectives of your event when it was in-person compared to a virtual event will help determine if it makes financial sense to continue with a virtual event. Using your historical event data, compare key event objectives from your in-person events compared to a virtual offering.
For example, you could create a similar side-by-side comparison. We will use a regional conference that sample association hosts each year:
|Business Objective||2019 In-Person Event||2020 Virtual Event Considerations|
|Attendance Revenue||$1,500 for three a day conference pass x 2500 attendees||Is the value of your virtual event ticket $1,500?
How has the cost basis for the event changed?
What were the attendee benefits that have shifted in this format?
|Sponsor Revenue||$2,450,000||What is most important to them?
Did you have an exhibit hall? Where did sponsors say they got the most value for their money in the past?
How will you supplement attendee/sponsor interaction and lead capture?
|Attendee Attraction — Educational Credits||6 CE credit per conference day||Will you continue to issue CE credits?
If so, how? Is there an opportunity for attendees to get more credit (e.g., recorded self-study courses)?
|Member Acquisition||150 first time attendees; 85% became members||How will the organization entice new participants to attend?
Are there segments of the market that doesn’t like to travel, so acquisition could be significantly higher than in the past?
Your previous event’s budget is a good place to start to compare the income and costs of a virtual event. Your hard costs, like venue, food and staff travel costs, can be compared to software solutions and consulting services needed to execute a virtual event.
With a full comparison outlined, you can determine how a virtual event can be structured to best benefit your organization, attendees, and sponsors, or if postponing the event makes more business sense. Organizations need to consider whether they need to try to replace all components of the past events.
Now You’re Ready to Research Virtual Event Technologies
The business objectives you outlined are now the guiding elements you need out of a virtual event technology offering. You can now research offerings and start having meaningful business-driven conversations with vendors.