Yes, you can charge for virtual events.
Virtual events are not free to produce, so why would they be free to attend?
In extreme cases, like in the immediate aftermath of the COVID shut down, yes, it is altruistic, and much appreciated, for events to be free to commune, commiserate and learn from one another. Barring this, you should be charging for your events.
- Events that cost even a little are better attended. Even if I have paid $2.00 I am more likely to actually put down the remote and login.
- Virtual events still cost money to produce. They may not cost as much and your ticket pricing can reflect this, but everything from your A/V team, the platform, your event producer and the content need to be created, that all costs real money, so why wouldn’t your event?
- If you are delivering value; excellent content, good networking opportunities, thorough sponsorship optics and learning outcomes, a participant should pay for that value.
After the event is over, if you want to have the on demand content, or a portion of it, be free, that is reasonable. That content has already been paid for in the ticket price and can be an added perk to attending.
If this mode of event delivery is to be the new norm, we all have to get on board with charging for these events. Our clients and our partners will all need to see not just the soft ROI, but the financial one too. Just like a live event.