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Key differences between offline and online events

As the current pandemic causes the cancellation of more and more events, organisers and marketing personnel face a dilemma: how to hold a safe event that doesn’t put attendees at risk or break any COVID-19 safety guidelines? The answer, of course, is to move these events online, and that’s just what Delegate PLAY does as a virtual event platform. How does an online event differ from an offline one? Most obviously, you can attend one in person, while the other is attended virtually. Aside from that, though, there are a few other key differences. 

Reach

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When it comes to online events, anybody can access it no matter where they are, on their laptops or phones, locally or internationally. This differs from a physical event where it is held within a fixed time period at a fixed location. If audiences are unable to physically attend the event, they would unfortunately have to miss out on it. Therefore, the flexibility and accessibility of online events are higher as compared to offline events, being able to reach out to more people regardless of their location, resulting in a better ROI.

Logistics

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When you plan an in-person event, your biggest challenge is likely to be logistics. You’ll need to put many moving pieces into place, from the date, venue, and guest list to the theme, activities, décor, and food. With an online event, you don’t have to deal with so many of these types of problems, but you do have a new, unique issue to face: viewer’s attention, the main struggle of the planners of online events. It’s not an easy task to relearn and devote as much time and attention as you may have previously paid to logistics. Still, it’s a necessary evil of hosting a virtual conference, trade show, or another event. 

Multitasking

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Guests at an offline event are there to do one thing: attend your event. Attendees of your digital event, on the other hand, will most likely be doing multiple things at once because the sheer number of temptations online is just too large. Many of your attendees will most likely be doing something while your event is on. Most people listening to an online webinar, for example, will also have their phones on doing something else, whether they are paying a bill, playing a game, or catching up on their social media.

Because their attention is scattered, your content may simply pass by almost unnoticed. To overcome this, you must figure out how to stimulate your guests’ behaviour so that they are ready to focus. For example, you may want to use a format that includes very short segments so that your attendees’ minds don’t have time to wander. 

Technical limitations

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No matter how far into the future many of us may already be thinking, mass electronics are currently planted firmly in 2020. Crumbling pictures, Internet lag, slow connections – it all still happens. If the video freezes or any of your features don’t work, your viewers, who are accustomed to large platforms that operate perfectly, will quickly switch to something else. It’s of the utmost importance to find a reliable virtual events platform to minimise the chances of this happening and thereby retaining attendees at your virtual conference. 

Decreased perceived value

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Watching a video isn’t the same as seeing a live presentation. People value the real-life experience and expect an entertaining, educational, or otherwise fulfilling experience that justifies the time they spent on the road and the money they spent on their tickets. The trick here is to narrow the gap and increase value for the viewer. You can’t duplicate an offline experience online and shouldn’t necessarily try. Instead, focus on the strengths of an online format, such as the engaging potential of interactive mechanics like introducing live-streaming formats and running polls and quizzes to increase engagement. 

Budget

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When it comes to planning a physical event, a lot of resources are being used for venue bookings and physical set up fees of furniture, decor, projectors, sound speakers and more. You can save more when it comes to offline events as these physical materials are no longer required. Instead, you can channel your budget into more effective resources such as better marketing and in-event engagement tools for better ROI instead to boost a more successful and eventful virtual event. These tools would not be as useful or relevant for physical events, thus it is important to consider the budget that vastly differs when you are planning to host either an online or offline event.

Planning a virtual event? Delegate PLAY is a fully immersive virtual environment that allows users to host online conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, and job fairs all under one platform. You can read more about it here.

We’d love to help make your virtual event a smashing success. For more information or a demo of Delegate PLAY, feel free to contact us via the form below. We promise to get in touch with you in a jiffy.

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