Sell Experiences, not ‘Space’ to monetise Virtual Events

Sell Experiences, not ‘Space’ to monetise Virtual Events

Tim Groot

CEO & Co-Founder

Recently, a large event organiser told me that 90%+ of revenue for commercial event organisers came from selling ‘space.’ However, selling space virtually can be a lot more complex than selling it for in-person events.

Space, or more specifically, square meters, has been the lifeblood of revenue for most trade show organisers. The larger your booth, the higher the price you pay. The better the location on the trade show floor, the higher the price.

To some extent, selling space can be replicated online, such as selling exhibitor profiles, premium listings, platform banners, and session holding images.


Examples of selling “space” on the Grip Market Engagement Platform.

But with a strategic vision and focus on the attendee experience, the options to monitise your events become a lot clearer and virtual platforms can be a valuable resource to drive your event ROI.

Create and Monetise Event Experiences.

My Dad is not from the events world. To give him an idea of the business that we work in, I decided to bring him along to a trade show who have used Grip for several years—ProWein in Germany, one of the largest international Wine & Spirit trade fairs.

It was an absolutely incredible experience with 6,000 winemakers showcasing their products. Most of the visitors arrived with their own wine glasses at 10 am to start trying different wines. It wasn’t just about buyers and sellers meeting each other; it was an experience. Grip functioned as a way to make sure the right meetings took place and help people maximise their Return on Time, but it’s the experience that makes the difference.

In 2020, we saw organisers being extremely successful in creating experiences in the Virtual Event world. We’ve seen a Firefighter exhibition that partnered with their largest truck manufacturer to create a month-long program of live content where the trucks were used to put out staged fires–with live Q&A with firefighters. The company had never sold as many fire trucks as they had with this custom-designed content program because it was an experience.

Boat shows, for example, might consider creating more video content of people experiencing the boats out on the sea as opposed to in the exhibition hall. Spirits events have been sending boxes of spirits to buyers to participate in a virtual mixology class where the spirit manufacturers can be contacted for Q&A right away.

Take sponsored sessions to the next level.

We’re all familiar with the ‘sponsored content’ in the form of keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats, and all were part of successful virtual events in 2020.

However, sponsored sessions can be quite one-sided if they do not provide a way beyond Q&A or polling for event participants to get engaged. There are, however, great ways that a Virtual Session can be combined with a breakout session in a “meet the speaker” format or roundtables for people to participate in.

Later in 2021, we’ll also be launching the ability to combine sessions with a Sponsored Speed Networking Session to empower event participants to connect around a specific topic that has been discussed.

Monetise the Connection

The most successful virtual events we organised in 2020 were, without a doubt, facilitated meeting programmes—short-form and intense programs of several hours where thousands of meetings can take place.

Connect Sports published a great article that shared the successes of their first virtual event. Exhibitors had an average of 23.5 meetings with qualified buyers at their event. 9.5% of the 3,912 virtual meetings were rated as “Deal in Negotiation”, and 41.5% was marked as “Great Business Potential”.

This is more effective than an in-person event and can be monetised extremely well.

From platform banners to sponsored sessions or networking, the options to monitise your events are not diminished in virtual environments. You might find you have more scope to experiment and engage your audiences. But certainly, virtual events give you increased data and insight, enhancing and increasing revenue opportunities.

*M&I Forums organises Hosted Buyer Events but shows the cost per Meeting on its website.