How are you approaching pricing for virtual events and how does that compare to in-person?

How are you approaching pricing for virtual events and how does that compare to in-person?
It's not a question of 'should you charge' for your online event, but 'how much' should you charge. Event Pros weigh in on the subject.

For the most part we are pricing virtual events in similar fashion to in-person events.

For the most part we are pricing virtual events in similar fashion to in-person events. I realize that there is a misconception that virtual events require less work, but this is not always the case. While there isn’t a large effort for day of load in and load out, the hours spent doing that has been allocated to other things. We are spending more time vetting virtual event platforms with demos which we have not spent nearly as much time doing for a venue. The same amount of time we have spent in the past to design the layout of a dinner reception or conference is the same amount of time spent building out a virtual event platform with speaker and sponsor pages, branding, schedules, and everything else. Events such as conferences have not always needed a rehearsal with Keynotes and now, they do. We literally have to run a virtual event before the virtual event takes place to ensure no technical or human error. I say all of this to say that virtual events require the same level of effort, if not more, as in-person events.

We break down our fees based on length of the virtual event, how many attendees will be present, and how many vendors (A/V, Speakers, entertainers, and managers) we have to manage. Our pricing falls into half day, full day, and multi-day pricing all based on the average amount of time we have spent doing these various requests in the past.

Andrew Roby

Event Storyteller

Andrew Roby Events, Washington, D.C.

We have kept our pricing the same, though we’ve moved from a percentage to a project-based fee structure.

We have kept our pricing the same, though we’ve moved from a percentage to a project-based fee structure. When in-person events have a $250,000 or $350,000 budget, a percentage of that for management fee works, but when the entire event budget is $20-30,000, a percentage is too hard for the client to understand why it costs that.

My entire team tracks their hours so we can adjust that project fee for future events as we need based on how long things are actually taking. Virtual is still a very time consuming process to plan, orchestrate and execute and you need more technology staffing roles than you did with in-person events, which costs. That’s additional management line items we have to factor in.

Valerie Bihet

Director

VIBE, Miami, FL

Contrary to what many people think, virtual events are not 'cheap'.

At Sherpa Group Events, we have been doing virtual events (well, at least hybrid) since before they were cool!  The event management strategy and planning process for virtual events is very much the same as for in-person.  In addition, the expenses for a virtual event should be similar to one that was in-person.

Contrary to what many people think, virtual events are not ‘cheap’.  You need to have a similar investment into your platform, its setup and guest engagement that you would have spent on venue, AV and catering.  So depending on the client and the project, we continue to charge an event management fee based on a percentage of expenses or for select clients we calculate a flat fee based on scope of work.

Heather Sharpe

Event Producer

Sherpa Group Events Inc., Vancouver, B.C.

Now is not the time to be cutting corners, it's the time to surprise and delight your audience.

Pricing for virtual events must be looked at through a lense of production value and support. The most frustrating thing for an attendee at a virtual event is poor connection, followed by poor production value and not enough technical support. Yes, there are some things that can be adjusted and re-purposed from an in-person budget such as catering, car services, tables/chairs, etc., however, for virtual there are now extra details to consider – specialized staff to hire and you might even still need some of those room rentals and catering.

Overall, I encourage events to budget the same funds from an in-person event, and potentially even a bit more, to ensure you still have that seamless end-to-end experience for your attendees. Now is not the time to be cutting corners, it’s the time to surprise and delight your audience.
Heather Roeper

Heather Roeper

Owner & Event Director

Roeper Events, Chicago, IL

The beauty of virtual events is there are no additional expenses for the attendee.

In the future I will charge the same for a virtual event but right now so many “big” names are doing virtual events for free because they have huge sponsorship, I am charging less than normal and offering a VIP upgrade. The beauty of virtual events is there are no additional expenses for the attendee; no travel expenses, yet the content is still the same.

Kelley Millar

Kelley Millar

Owner

Events By KelleyNCo, Colorado Springs, CO

So I guess as far as pricing goes pertaining to online versus in person, event hosts and organizers do not make any money. 

In my opinion, virtual events are not nearly as successful as having events where people can attend and interact in person. I personally haven’t heard of anyone having great success or the same turnout as an in person event. Which brings me to the cost and effects of online events.

First of all, the host for any online event is not able to really set a price for a vendor’s “spot” per say, because there is no venue to pay rent for. Generally, the vendor’s cost to attend a show, helps pay for the cost of the venue. Secondly, you cannot charge “admission” to anyone that would like to attend the show, which is basically an Event Planner’s bread and butter! If you can’t charge admission to try and make a living, then there is no living to make.

If you are small business owner, trying to sell or promote your products or services, your chances of success are limited to the people that are on Social Media and happen to come across your ads, and may or may not attend. People in general need face to face contact, they need real social interaction, it’s in our nature, They need to see your products, they need to see what services you provide, not online but in person!

Most professionals, including business owners, media, etc. just assume that everyone these days has some sort of connection to Social Media or the internet, including seniors and the like, when in fact they don’t. I happen to know a few people personally that don’t even have a cell phone! Therefore, there are a whole lot of people who enjoy attending different events, that can’t because the event is “online” and they aren’t even aware.

So I guess as far as pricing goes pertaining to online versus in person, event hosts and organizers do not make any money.  That is my personal opinion and I’m sure others will agree! We need to get back to normal!

Bernie Funk

Owner

On Time Events, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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