Hybrid Hour: From $0 to $10 Million

Key Learnings from Questex’s Kevin Gray About Growing the Digital Event Portfolio

By Danica Tormohlen, Host of Hybrid Hour


Kevin Gray, Vice President, Technology, Media, and Telecom, at Questex. Kevin is responsible for the sales, operations, P&L, and conference programming for StreamTV Show series, XLIVE Series, Sensors Expo, Embedded Technologies Expo, and 25+ virtual events across his portfolio.


His group is producing about two digital events a month, capturing 50% net new attendees with a sponsorship model where 99% of revenues come from sponsors, not booths. Questex generated $10 million in virtual events in one year and the company is still seeing significant growth in virtual despite the return to live.

Embracing the reality of digital.

“We keep things similar in time to a normal webinar (90 minutes). We don’t expect our attendees to attend every session. By asking attendees to only register for sessions they plan to attend, we’re respecting their time and then we can market better on the backend, only sending reminders for those sessions. At a certain point, you need to embrace what works for a digital environment. We can collect data more specifically and distribute it better to our sponsors.”

Sponsorships are working, exhibits are not.

“We can’t even give away virtual booths to most of our events, so we keep it out of the equation for what we offer. We focus on sponsorships in terms of revenue. It boils down to two things for sponsors: speaking opportunities and leads. We're having so much success with the sponsors that any type of additional gate that we put up in terms of fees for the attendees would be prohibitive because then we wouldn't be able to bring as many leads to all of our sponsors.”

Free content builds database.

“99% of revenue comes from sponsorships. Any fees we put to our attendees create a block for building our audience that we can bring to the sponsors. I don’t believe in charging for it. We average 2,220-2,400 attendees for our digital events. 50% of those come from outside of our current database. It's a combination of a couple of different things. We signed with InGo about a year ago, and it has been huge for us. The other part: enabling and empowering all of our sponsors, speakers and attendees to promote the events to their own channels. The more our audience participates, the more our database grows.”  

Digital event models.

Questex has two digital event models. For its flagship events, the company uses a premium model, which uses event tech platforms with high production values for networking, experiences, branding and matchmaking. “That constitutes probably about 5% of our overall events. 95% of rest: It’s all about content. We produce a large amount of these and scale them easily. They average 6 figures in revenue with very little overhead. These small events allow us to get into specific niches and then build up audience for the flagship events.”

Simple sponsorship packages:

“We just have three packages that we offer, and the most important thing that we do is that we sell them in bundles. So we put together our entire virtual event calendar at the beginning of the year. It was a lot of work upfront. The higher dollar volumes, you're going to get more leads and better speaking opportunities. We were able to group them together in bundles, not just as one-offs, but as an entire year-long campaign. We don't sell just one event. We sell integrated packages that have multiple touch points throughout the year, and that's where we've had a lot of success.”

Feel like you missed out? Listen to a recording of the full Clubhouse hour here.

You can listen to Danica Tormohlen and JUNO weekly on the Clubhouse app! We are live tweeting every session. Join us this week at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 3, with our guest Kathleen McClemmy, Director of Meetings for The Aesthestic Society, which produced a hybrid event, April 29-May 3, with 700 IRL attendees and 119 booths with 900 booth personnel at the Miami Beach Convention Center and 500 virtual attendees.

Join the conversation with #junohybridhh or tweet @junoliveconnect any questions in advance!

Danica Tormohlen is an Award-Winning Journalist, Content Strategist and Omnichannel Media Pro. For trade show industry news and analysis, follow her on Twitter @DanicaTormohlen.