The advantages of Online Events for Associations

Covid-19 has required businesses and Associations to find alternatives to live events. Many Associations are now hosting their events online instead.

Often, Associations host live events to generate revenue which can improve and feed other work and research. This blog aims to identify how best Associations can optimize the benefit from hosting an online Association event.

Should we, could we, would we?

To understand whether your Association in particular should be or could be hosting online events, it is important to establish why your Association runs live events.

Networking Opportunities

Many Associations host live events to provide networking opportunities between members and suppliers, and this can still be achieved virtually.

Online events are, for many reasons, are more accessible for all members. Some association members will never be able to travel to live events due to restrictions in budget and time. Online events open new doors for members who have until now, been unable to network with fellow members of the association.

Do you find yourself talking to the same people at your Association event, catching up with people you have networked with previously? Although this is great for the social element of an event, it means networking experiences can be limited.

Networking within an online event provides opportunity to overcome these barriers. Many platforms have functionalities to provide a ‘speed networking’ experience. You are randomly paired with other members for a 5-minute chat and contact exchange. By the end of an hours networking session you could have met and exchanged details with 12 new contacts.


The Educational element of Association events are another key factor as to why Associations host live-events.

With careful consideration to the platform, interactive and productive educational sessions can still be achieved.

There are many brilliant platforms that allow an interactive experience within online events. This includes functionalities to deliver engaging webinars with 1:1 chat, live video streams, white-board discussions, screen share, polling, and Q&A. The options are endless.

The key is having a clear understanding as to what you need your virtual event to achieve. The next stage is breaking this down to a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves.

Additionally, unlike a live event, you do not have to worry about being in two places at once. Many platforms offer an on-demand library which keeps content available after the event. This contributes to having a community feel and means members can make the most of the content provided to them.

This nicely leads me on to my next point, revenue!

Revenue stream and costs

As mentioned previously, Associations often rely on revenue that is generated from live events to improve and feed other work and research. There is a lot of discussion regarding whether online events and webinars should be free and there are a couple of ways to look at this.

Costs – Should content be free and how can it possibly be free?

For any Association event to be a success it needs to be worthwhile for members. Content needs to be carefully put together and planned and online events are no exception to this. Furthermore, the venue needs to be appropriate. Think of your platform as the venue for the event, the  platform needs to be sufficient. This also comes with a cost.

Of course, there are ways to consider reducing the costs for members. If the event IS costing less to produce, then you can reduce the ticket price accordingly and balance the costs.

Revenue generation through sponsorship

There are also options within virtual events to bring in sponsors and make revenue through this.

Many platforms provide opportunities for sponsorship within the online event. This includes creating virtual exhibition booths/stands to replicate a physical exhibition stand. Within this, sponsors can upload any documents for attendees to download, add their branding, have 1:1 chat with attendees, set up meetings, embed videos and much more. Many platforms offer slightly different avenues of sponsorship, but the idea is the same.

Therefore, if the content has required time to put together, and is of value to members, and the platform is providing a seamless experience for attendees, how can there possibly be an expectation for the event to be free?


It is clear virtual events can still provide Associations opportunity to achieve the goals and outcomes they wish to achieve through their live events. Therefore, it is not a case of could or should your association host an online event of value, and instead is why has your association not already hosted an online event?

Do you need help in transitioning to hosting your Association event online? There are many ways Brightelm can help.

At Brightelm we have developed several ways in which we can help you deliver digitally with online event management. We can act as your online event manager, arranging the final details, advising on content, and planning the flow and technology. With Webinar Event Management packages starting from £500 +VAT, get in touch today!

Our sister company, The Event Training Company run short, sharp training courses. Their debut course ‘Introduction to Online Event Management’ provides guidance and tips on the fundamentals of organising online events. Find out more today.


Author: Tara Hingston