December 04, 2023
By Olivia Cal

Choosing the right event type for your business is a skill essential when planning an event. But what’s the difference between hosting a conference and a seminar? Or a webinar and a workshop? 

When return on investment (ROI) is at stake, a lot. 

Proving ROI has never been simple (or easy!) when it comes to events. And picking the wrong event type for your business, your purpose, and your audience, can have disastrous consequences. 

In this blog, we’ll explore seven event types available to you, the common goals and KPIs associated with them, and the event technology that can help you make them a success. 

Why is it important to choose the right event type?

Picking the right event type is crucial to making your event a success. Not only is this because you’ll be more likely to hit your ROI targets but you’ll also: 

  • Be more likely to close deals

  • Prevent wasted resources

  • Enhance audience interest, participation, and engagement

That’s why it’s key to understand each type of event, when to use them, and how they can support your organisation’s goals. Doing this will ensure you’re aligned with stakeholders and allow you to prove your events are meeting the desired objectives. 

7 event types to help you drive ROI

There is a wide range of event types out there for you to choose from, each serving different purposes and catering to different audiences. Here are seven key event types you may be considering:

1. Conferences

Cvent employees checking in Cvent CONNECT Europe attendees.

Conferences are large-scale events that bring together experts, professionals, and enthusiasts to discuss industry trends, share knowledge, and network. They often include keynote speakers, panel discussions, and breakout sessions.

It’s common for conferences to attract a global audience. For example, our conference, Cvent CONNECT Europe, brings in marketing, events, and hospitality professionals from all around Europe (and beyond!). 

Choose your event goals

  • Knowledge sharing and education: Conferences facilitate the sharing of knowledge, provide educational opportunities, and position you as an industry leader. 

  • Networking and relationship building: Conferences often have designated areas or breakouts dedicated to facilitating meaningful interactions. 

  • Promotion and exposure: Conferences provide a platform for you to showcase your products, services, and expertise. 

Common conference KPIs

  • Attendance and participation: Number of attendees, participation rates

  • Satisfaction and feedback: Participant satisfaction scores, feedback responses 

  • Lead generation and business impact: Lead generation, business partnerships or deals initiated 

Event tech you need

  • Onsite technology: It’s critical to create an exceptional first impression. Deliver a contactless or concierge badging experience with onsite technology, then use real-time event data to stay on-top of logistics and  performance. 

  • Virtual and hybrid event platforms: Virtual and hybrid event platforms like Cvent Attendee Hub enable you to broadcast live to virtual audiences around the world, extending your reach. These platforms also enable you to provide content for your audience to consume before, during and after the conference. 

2. Seminars

People watching a presentation

Seminars are educational events focused on in-depth learning about specific topics. They involve interaction between presenters and participants, fostering a more hands-on and engaging experience.

Seminars often begin with a presentation on a particular topic, followed by Q&A sessions, discussions, and sometimes interactive workshops. Because seminars are typically small in scale, they foster a more direct form of interaction between you and your audience. 

Choose your event goals

  • Skill development: A key goal associated with seminars is enhancing the participants’ understanding of a particular subject or product.

  • Networking and collaboration: Seminars provide opportunities for networking and collaboration among participants.

  • Promotion and thought leadership: Some seminars are organised to promote a specific idea, product, or service.

Common seminar KPIs

  • Attendance rates: Number of attendees, percentage of registered participants

  • Learning outcomes: Pre- and post-seminar assessments, participant feedback, skill development metrics

  • Satisfaction scores: Participation satisfaction surveys, feedback scores

Event tech you need

  • Venue sourcing technology: Venue sourcing technology, such as the Cvent Supplier Network (CSN), enables you to find the right venue for your organisation and event. It connects you to thousands of event planners sourcing in your area and offers RFP templates, search filters, and more to help your search.

  • Event registration technology: Reliable event registration technology helps get your seminar off to a smooth start. Attendees can turn up, enter their details, and get their badge printed in a matter of minutes. 

3. Webinars

Webinar goals

With the rise of online communication, webinars and virtual events allow participants to engage remotely. These events are suitable for education, product launches, and panel discussions. 

Webinars typically involve a solo presenter or a panel of speakers to deliver content through slides or discussions. 

Just because webinars are held online doesn’t mean there’s a lack of audience engagement, however. Your audience can communicate with you and other attendees through features such as Q&A, polls, and chat. 

Choose your event goals

  • Lead generation and marketing: Webinars are effective tools for lead generation and marketing. Webinars allow you to showcase your expertise, products, or services. 

  • Audience engagement: Engaging participants and fostering interaction is a key goal for webinars and can lead to greater audience satisfaction. 

  • Knowledge sharing: Many webinars are organised with a core goal being to advance participants’ understanding of a specific topic or skill. 

Common webinar KPIs

  • Attendance and registration rates: Number of registrants, attendance rate

  • Audience engagement: Chat participation, Q&A interaction, poll responses

  • Conversion and lead generation: Conversion rate, lead generation

Event tech you need

  • Webinar platforms: Platforms like Cvent Webinar give you intuitive production tools to help you create webinars, switch up your backgrounds with director tools, engage your attendees, and showcase your brand.

  • Virtual whiteboard: Virtual collaboration tools allow presenters to illustrate concepts, brainstorm ideas, and engage participants in real-time collaboration. 

4. Training and workshops

People watching a presentation

Training and workshops are educational events designed to impart specific skills, knowledge, or competencies to participants. They can be internal, focusing on employee development, or external, targeting clients or industry professionals.

Unlike traditional lectures, training sessions and workshops emphasise hands-on learning. Participants are actively involved in exercises, simulations, and practical activities to reinforce theoretical concepts.

Choose your event goals

  • Skill development: The primary goal of many training sessions and workshops is to develop or enhance technical abilities, soft skills, or leadership capabilities among participants. 

  • Team-building and collaboration: Activities and exercises may be designed to enhance teamwork, communication, and cooperation among participants. 

  • Knowledge transfer: The goal of training and workshops is often to ensure participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the content presented.

Common training and workshop KPIs

  • Attendance rates: Number of participants, participation rates 

  • Skill acquisition: Pre- and post-assessment scores, skill proficiency metrics

  • Participant satisfaction: Participant satisfaction scores, feedback responses 

Event tech you need

  • Learning management systems: Learning Management Systems provide a centralised platform for organising, delivering, and managing training content.

  • Survey tools: Survey and event feedback tools help you gauge what participants found helpful enable you to optimise for future training and workshops.

5. User groups

Man giving presentation in front of audience

User groups bring together individuals who use a specific product, service, or technology. These events foster community, encourage knowledge sharing, and provide a platform for users to connect with each other and the product/service provider.

User groups often serve as forums for users to provide feedback about a particular product or service. This direct interaction allows users to express their opinions, suggest improvements, and contribute to the development of the product or service.

Choose your event goals

  • Community building: User groups provide networking opportunities among individuals with similar interests or experiences. 

  • Product feedback: These events often serve as a direct channel for users to provide feedback on products or services.

  • Knowledge sharing and support: A primary goal of user groups is to provide mutual support among members.

Common user group KPIs

  • Membership engagement: Active participation, event attendance

  • Knowledge sharing and content interaction: Content contributions, resource downloads

  • Product feedback: User feedback submissions, net promoter score (NPS) 

Event tech you need

  • Customer feedback and survey tools: These tools enable you to create surveys, polls, and feedback forms to collect opinions, preferences, and suggestions.

  • Collaboration tools: Collaboration tools like Slack or Asana can enhance communication and coordination within user groups, especially if you have virtual attendees. 

6. VIP events

People trying out virtual reality equipment

VIP events are exclusive gatherings designed for a select group of individuals, such as high-profile clients, top customers, or key stakeholders. 

A networking event aims to strengthen relationships, express appreciation, and create a unique and memorable experience. This is done through unique, memorable, and often high-end experiences.

VIP events are often highly personalised to cater to the preferences and interests of the attendees. This may include tailored experiences and custom amenities.

Choose your event goals

  • Relationship building: VIP events give you a unique opportunity to build or strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, influencers, clients, or partners. 

  • Brand and product showcase: The goal of VIP events is often to create an exclusive and memorable experience that highlights your achievements and offerings. 

  • Customer appreciation and loyalty: These events enable you to express gratitude and appreciation to your attendees, which encourages loyalty. 

Common VIP event KPIs

  • Guest satisfaction and feedback: Guest satisfaction scores, post-event surveys

  • Relationship-building outcomes: New partnerships or collaborations, business opportunities initiated or progressed

  • Brand exposure and media coverage: Media impressions, social media mentions, press coverage

Event tech you need

  • Mobile apps: Mobile apps give you a way to facilitate meaningful connections among attendees through personalised introductions and one-on-one meetings, for example.

  • Virtual and augmented reality: Integrating virtual and augmented reality technologies can add a unique and immersive dimension to VIP events. These tools offer an engaging way to showcase products and solutions like car interiors or 3D room diagramming technology.

7. Networking events

Two men singing on a stage surrounded by audience

Networking events facilitate connections between professionals in a more casual environment. The choice of venue plays a crucial role in the success of networking events and depends on the atmosphere you’d like to foster. For example, use a rooftop terrace or outdoor venue to create a relaxed, refreshing atmosphere or a gallery to spark deep, meaningful conversations. 

To facilitate interactions, networking events often incorporate icebreakers and activities. These can include games, themed discussions, or facilitated introductions to help participants feel more comfortable engaging with others.

Choose your event goals

  • Facilitate meaningful connections: Networking events give you an environment where individuals can engage in conversations and establish professional relationships. 

  • Generating business opportunities: Networking events are often strategic, seeking to create opportunities for business development, partnerships, and collaborations.

  • Promoting knowledge exchange: These events promote a collaborative atmosphere and contribute to the professional development of attendees.

Common networking event KPIs

  • Attendee engagement: Interaction levels, business card exchanges, meetings set up, social media activity

  • Lead generation and business connections: Number of new leads, partnerships initiated or progressed

  • Participant satisfaction: Participant satisfaction scores, post-event surveys 

Event tech you need

  • Venue sourcing tech: Venue sourcing technology enables you to find the perfect location for your organisation, whether it be a four-star hotel or a unique location like a rooftop bar or museum. 

  • Registration: Use your event registration website to gather important information about your attendees ahead of the event. This enables you to better personalise the attendee experience.  

What else should I consider when choosing my event type?

While goals, KPIs and event technology are important factors when it comes to picking an event type, they’re not the only considerations. It’s also important to assess:

  • Format (In-person, Hybrid, Virtual): The format of your event plays an important role in determining your event type. Consider your audience's location, accessibility, and the nature of the content. In-person events offer face-to-face interaction, hybrid events combine in-person and virtual components, and virtual events allow you to extend the reach of your event.

  • Budget: Different event types come with varying price tags and it’s important to consider your budget constraints when choosing between a webinar and a seminar, for example. 

  • Timeline: Consider the time available for planning and executing the event. Some event types may require more lead time than others. Ensure that the timeline aligns with the complexity of the chosen event.

  • Target Audience: Finally, know your audience and their preferences. Consider their demographics, interests, and how they prefer to engage. This will influence the format and style of the event.

Go forth and pick your event type!

Now it’s time for you to pick the event type that suits your organisation. Don’t forget about the goals you’re trying to hit, the event technology you’ll need, and considerations such as format, budget, timeline and target audience.

To learn more engagement strategies and best practices you can implement at your next event, read our Ultimate Guide to In-Person Events.

Olivia Cal Headshot

Olivia Cal

Olivia is a copywriter and content marketer specialising in hospitality, events, and retail. After five years of in-house experience, she now works independently, writing articles, eBooks, case studies, and more for a wide range of clients.

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