Revenue vs. Engagement at Virtual Events

How to price virtual events to ensure engaged audience

Analyses of recent Kenes Group experience with their healthcare professionals' association clients have shown that free registration and lower fees to virtual events result in lower attendance and engagement. Nevertheless, returnee numbers to subsequent paid events increased after online education was offered without costs.

" Pricing virtual events guarantees active and engaged participation and assists associations to offset the costs of producing them and providing quality content. "

The world on the screen continues to evolve with more knowledge and information, so should all that be packaged and delivered to association members for free, or is there a better way to price it? And what about virtual conferences – what would be the future of their revenue streams?

When Kenes Group surveyed healthcare professionals (HCPs) in 2021, 65% of respondents continued to demand lower registration fees for virtual events – 50% or lower– compared to in-person meetings. We had the opportunity to put the theory to the test with a client of ours and measure if lower or no fees really impacted participation and engagement at their annual congress.

The first virtual congress of this client took place in 2020. The association decided to offer the event for free, as their goal was to support their community and for science to reach as many practitioners as possible. For their second virtual event in 2021, there was a low registration fee.

We observed interesting outcomes. With the free registration in 2020, the event received a high volume of registrations (about 6500 pax), compared to 2021 – there were 2400 registrants. Registration fees had an impact on the signing up rate, as many organisations observed since the pandemic started and events were moved to virtual.

But while in 2020 about 47% of the registrants logged into the virtual platform, in 2021 this number was nearly double – with 80% of participants logging into the system. The congress had a record high returnee number – 40% of the 2020 participants came back and paid the fees of the event. And to top that, there was a high reach of non-members in 2021 too, that actively participated at the event.

The community of this association is content-driven – both clinical and basic research is of very high importance to these healthcare professionals. In terms of engagement, we noticed that the unique session views between the 2020 and 2021 events were the same – about 1500.

All of this shows that pricing virtual events guarantees active and engaged participation and assists associations to offset the costs of producing them and providing quality content. Those participants that thirst the knowledge are the attendees that each association wants, and while fees play a role, that core audience for which the event was designed will find a way or another to get access to the content that they need.


This article was written for HQ Magazine and appeared first in the November 2021 issue.

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