Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2023

The Six Rs of Success for Virtual Events

The success of an online event, much like one designed to be held in person, depends on whether or not you reach the goals you set at the very beginning of the process. But most fall under one of the six “R”s panelists outlined at a recent rebroadcast of one of the most popular sessions from the 2020 ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition. Called “The ABCs of Engaging Audiences Virtually,” the panelists used a game-show format, complete with buzzers and wild cheers from the audience, to show, as well as tell, how to do just that.

The six Rs of success shared by the panelists — Carol McGury, MPS, Executive Vice President, SmithBucklin (moderator); Beth Surmont, CMP, CAE, Director of Experience Design, 360 Live Media; Christine Murphy Peck, Senior Director, Education and Learning Services, SmithBucklin; and Sharon Newport, CAE, Interim Chief Executive Officer, DHI — were:

Reach. Unlike in-person events, where the reach is limited by the physical space and attendees’ ability to take time out of the office to travel, online events can extend the reach farther and wider than you might imagine. For example, the Civil Air Patrol recently expanded its reach from a few hundred to more than 10,000 when it took its annual meeting into the digital realm.

Retention. How many participants return to your event year after year? If your in-person retention goal is 90% year over year, you should shoot for a similar retention rate for your online events, the panelists suggested.

Relevance. If the content isn’t highly relevant to your participants, you’re not going to have much luck with retention. One way to measure relevance is to use a net promoter score, which tallies how many people would recommend your event to a friend or colleague.

Reputation. Of course, a stellar reputation is an event organizer’s best friend. You can measure this somewhat nebulous metric by tracking your market share. What percentage of your membership comes to your event?

Revenue. Events aren’t held in a vacuum, and even in today’s free-for-all environment, most still are looking for their event to bring in some level of revenue, whether that’s from registrations or sponsorships or virtual exhibitors — or a mix of all of the above.

ROI. Return on investment, or ROI, equals the revenue minus your expenses, said the panelists. ROI is going to be key to ensure your event hits the true mark when it comes to the financial goals you determined at the beginning.

Sponsorships can be a vital source of revenue for virtual as well as in-person events, they added, though they can look a little different in the digital environment. Some ideas they floated included hosted business exchanges, holding a select VIP access focus group, fireside chats with a sponsor or sponsored key opinion leader, banner ads, and session introductions.


Free Subscription to
MeetingMentor Online


About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

Design by: Loewy Design