Admin Jun 29, 2021 9:00:00 AM 11 min read

What the Eventual Return of In-Person Events Means for Monetization

In the past year, organizations have taken a giant leap toward digital events and related monetization opportunities. Even though virtual event formats became the new normal, they couldn't replace in-person events entirely.

68% of event marketers report that a hybrid solution that can manage both virtual and in-person events will play a key role in 2021 event strategies. 

With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, event strategists are looking into the return of live events. Will in-person events render digital arrangements useless? Not likely. Today, you have to prepare for the hybrid style, which is likely to dominate the corporate realm in the upcoming years.

Let's take a closer look at what the return of in-person events means for monetization.  

How Monetization Changed in the Past Year

The sudden disappearance of in-person events left event strategists scrambling for monetization ideas. While virtual events were already gaining momentum, not all companies were taking full advantage of them.

Attendees were unwilling to pay the same amount of money for events that didn't offer familiar networking opportunities, hands-on activities, socialization moments, and more. Replacing all the above seemed nearly impossible.

To stay on top of their game, event strategists had to reinvent their approach and turn to new monetization opportunities, including:

  • Premium tickets — companies capitalized on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and personalization to offer early-bird access, VIP content packages, membership passes, and the like. Many attendees were willing to pay extra for special treatment.
  • Ad space — organizations sold ad spaces on event landing pages that attracted heavy traffic.
  • On-demand content — after events concluded, companies continued capitalizing on the content produced by selling access to the recorded material. 
  • Working with sponsors — companies collaborated with sponsors and allowed them to promote their brands during the event in exchange for financial support.

As a bonus, each virtual event produced a huge variety of digital data. Organizations used this information to promote their products and improve customer relationships long after the event was over.

Additionally, virtual events generated content, which was used for further marketing and retention efforts. Such content was much easier to harvest from a virtual event than it was from an in-person event.

How In-Person Events Change Monetization

The return of in-person events doesn't necessarily mean the full return of pre-COVID monetization tactics. It's worth noting that the comeback isn't likely to happen before 2022 rolls around. However, preparing for it right now can prove beneficial for your event strategy and budget.

1. Annual Events

Once in-person events come back, annual events are likely to return to being the biggest revenue-generators of the year. Preparing for them right now could be a great way to capitalize on monetization once they become a reality.

It's important to understand that the entire world, including your list of competitors, is preparing for the return of live gatherings. While limited travel budgets may indeed cause in-person events to be smaller than pre-COVID levels, those travel restraints will eventually be mitigated. When that happens (likely in 2022), you can expect annual events to be grandiose as crowds are again able to experience the in-person environment to its fullest. It's imperative to make sure your event remains competitive and brings the expected monetization opportunities.

2. High Ticket Prices

The much-missed hands-on activities, socialization, and networking opportunities are coming back. Since your potential attendees spent the past year hoping for the in-person interactions to return, you can capitalize on their desire.

By providing your attendees all they have been missing and much more, you gain the right to charge high ticket prices. The old normal will become the coveted reward after long months of abstinence.

3. Sponsorship Engagement

While it was possible to capitalize on sponsorship engagement with virtual events, the results were far from ideal. Sponsors were less willing to participate since digital gatherings offered fewer touchpoints with the target audience.

The return of in-person events gives sponsors an opportunity to reach their audiences by collaborating with event organizers. Companies can monetize on these relationships even more than they used to before the pandemic.

4. Hybrid Events

Hybrid events combine both in-person and virtual experience to reap the benefits of both while minimizing downsides. These events allow you to:

  • Maximize attendance.
  • Collect large volumes of digital data.
  • Provide in-person networking opportunities.
  • Generate content for further marketing efforts.
  • Demonstrate your ability to stay on top of the latest trends.
  • Cut costs while increasing reach.

By arranging hybrid events, you can monetize aspects of online and in-person events without doubling your budget.

5. VIP Attendance

Since your target audience is likely to look forward to in-person events, take advantage of the opportunity to explore VIP attendance where organizations will be more willing to spend their limited budget. When designing a hybrid event, you may want to limit the number of tickets for the live portion, thus capitalizing on the audience's FOMO.

VIP tickets can become an excellent monetization opportunity for many years to come, especially once your target audience reacquires the taste for live events.

Limiting attendance is a way to cut costs while allowing the rest of your audience to receive the desired value from your events without leaving their homes or offices.

Monetizing In-Person Events in the Post-Pandemic World

While digital events are still in full swing, the time has come to look into the future. Since in-person events are likely to return within a year, organizations are exploring new monetization opportunities.

Companies that have experience monetizing in-person events need to rethink their strategies. The new normal will combine different event formats to keep event teams on their toes.

By exploring upcoming monetization opportunities today, you are investing in your organization's future.

If you'd like to learn more about making money on in-person events in the post-pandemic world, we are here to help. IPG is staying on top of the latest event strategies to help your company succeed in the new environment.