Whenever you plan an event, budget considerations are always going to play a large role. From determining the guest list’s size to selecting the types of amenities, event planning is filled with constraints.
Virtual event planning has become a mainstay in the corporate event landscape. While this is partially due to a global pandemic, the reality is that the move to a digital space offers many benefits that an in-person event cannot. Virtual events prove to be an invaluable option for accommodating large groups of people who cannot come together in person.
With the rise of virtual events, the evolution of the hybrid event has also seen an increase in popularity. A hybrid event incorporates both in-person and virtual elements. Typically a hybrid event allows someone who cannot attend the in-person event to watch and participate as if they were there themselves.
Whether an event is a virtual or a hybrid event, budget still needs to be top of mind. This article will address some of the top budget considerations for virtual and hybrid events and why each consideration is a pivotal piece in planning your next corporate get-together.
When planning a virtual event, it’s important to know that it is not as costly as traditional in-person events. Still, they do require a solid, realistic budget to successfully execute your vision.
Online Event Platforms
A virtual event platform is going to help define the event. While it may be tempting to cut corners and use a DIY platform, this will be reflected in all aspects of the remote attendees experience.
You wouldn’t cut corners and host your event at some unbefitting location, so why do the online equivalent by trying to host via Zoom or Webex? These well-known video conferencing softwares are great for video discussions, but they are not made to handle the bandwidth of a robust summit or conference.
Any time the attendee count or scope of sessions reaches a certain threshold, you’re going to want to use a custom virtual event platform. Often, custom event platforms have their own hosting service and a team of industry experts that help the event activity run smoothly within a digital space. The combination of a professional platform and tech-savvy virtual event management helps prevent virtual event faux paus like navigation confusion and other technical difficulties.
Here are some of the most common components that help determine an appropriate virtual production budget:
- Scope – This refers to the event’s length (i.e., duration of time daily and how many days) as well as the complexity of the schedule (i.e. 1 general live stream or 5 concurrent sessions). The scope helps assess how much digital space you will need and helps your team identify your specific bandwidth requirements.
- Setting – Renting a studio or event space may be needed for pre-records or live day-of video segments. Be sure to follow a specific AV checklist to prepare properly.
- Technical Equipment – Audio/Visual equipment needs to be rented or bought to properly produce pre-recorded videos and live streams.
- Technical labor – You are going to need a crew to help with all of this tech!
- Video Editing – Whether it’s mixing the audio of a live webinar or editing the pre-recorded video, where there is a video you’ll need an editor.
- Media hosting – Your media (i.e. pre-recorded content, live presentations, and Video OnDemand) must live somewhere whether that’s your event platform or a cloud based server.
- Graphic Design – If you don’t have an internal team creating branded presentation content and transition slides, this may be an additional service offered by a professional production team.
Additional Optional Elements
Here are some optional, but recommended, aspects of virtual events that should be considerations based on your event budget constraints:
Entertainment – No one wants an event to feel like work, which is why entertainment is so important. High-quality entertainment is one of the easiest ways to distinguish regular work from the excitement of an event!
An Emcee – Even online, you need to have someone who is hosting the show. You should consider hiring a confident virtual emcee to fill the role of the digital ring leader, there to properly introduce a regarded keynote speaker, transition to new sessions, and moderate when necessary. Costs for this will vary, but the bigger the event, the more you should expect to pay for this position.
Online Activities– Virtual audience engagement is pivotal for any event’s success and interactive online activities can play a major role. There are a myriad of online activities that invite your guests to participate in and experience the event rather than just watching it unfold on their screen.
Music – Music is an important piece of any well-orchestrated event, and music licensing fees are often a forgotten part of the budget. Don’t be confined to free royalty-free music, or worse, be hit with a large fine; make an effort to determine how much of your budget will be allocated to paying for the music you want.
Hybrid Events – The Cost Of Doing Things In Person
Hybrid events are a great way to unify the in-person and virtual aspects of any event. Aside from the actual cost of hosting people virtually, a hybrid event adds additional financial requirements. Things like a physical venue, traditional on-site AV equipment (remember real stages?), and a dedicated AV management team to ensure your guests are digitally supported are all budget considerations for a hybrid event.
The Need For A Venue
The number of in-person attendees will play a large role in determining the size of your venue. While current world health restrictions may limit the number of people you are allowed to have in one place, your usual venue size may not necessarily change in order to accommodate modern social distancing policies.
With attendees coming back to a physical location, you should reallocate some funds towards food & beverage and optional on-site social plans such as a welcome reception or networking happy hour.
Booking a venue is never just the agreed rate of the room you’re using. Many times there are additional costs that fall in the category of “related fees.” Related fees can be anything from the hotel-exclusive cost of additional power to specific IT requirements.
Extra hardlines, increased WiFi hotspots, and a whole lot of bandwidth are all necessities when broadcasting your event to an additional audience of virtual attendees. A lack of internet service, or worse, slow internet service, is one of the easiest ways to alienate guests, perturb vendors, and outright enrage an production team. Spend up on the internet for your event, and make sure that you have hired someone to fill the role of dedicated internet technician.
Finally, suppose you are hosting an in-person event where key event personnel, vendor management, talent, and technical crew need to travel and stay near the event site. In that case, you will need to take travel expenses and possible accommodations into account. This could be as simple as procuring a special rate on a block of rooms from a local hotel or budgeting for travel costs, per-diem, and lodging.
In a hybrid event, your production partner’s role is going to be more hands-on and you should strive to involve them early in your planning process. Event scope and the complexities of the simultaneous virtual experience will determine how on-site production is scaled.
A hybrid event will certainly require more production necessities. In addition to the traditional tech crew and AV equipment of a normal [pre-Covid] in-person event, you should budget for: additional media servers, broadcasting equipment, camera operators, and specialized live stream engineers.
Especially in today’s Covid-19 world, pandemic compliance is a crucial part of planning an in-person event. For any live event, PPE supplies, signage, and extra around-the-clock cleaning are necessary. Additionally, disposable serving ware and individually packaged items are now the only acceptable method for serving your guests, so you will need to plan appropriately.
To manage these additional aspects of modern event compliance, you will need a Pandemic Advisor. This person will oversee and manage operations to ensure everything is set up and operated in a manner that is socially distant and health-focused to ensure the safety of guests and staff alike.
It is more than likely that your Pandemic Adviser will provide a team of certified individuals for temperature checks or Covid testing, depending on the scope of the event. At the very least, a hired team will be needed to assist the Pandemic Advisor in their pursuit of maintaining health precautions and proper safety measurements.
Virtual and Hybrid Event Coordination
Last but certainly not least, complex virtual and hybrid events require a defined strategy and a coordinated group of specialists and tacticians.
When beginning the process of planning an event, it is vital that you employ the expertise of an event technology specialist like Vario. We aren’t just experts at running a virtual or hybrid event; we are partners that will ensure you stay within your budget. To create, coordinate, and execute a virtual or hybrid event, Vario is the perfect team to turn to. Contact us today!