Choosing the best virtual event platform is a fundamental step. Especially if you want to be successful in increasing attendance and engagement in more robust operations.
These platforms will be responsible for registration, promotion, execution and measurement. Besides, the need to integrate with the main applications necessary for the great experience your attendees are expecting.
Automating this process as much as possible avoids common failures caused by the digital rush we caught ourselves in since the beginning of the pandemic.
Therefore, we invited Eugenia Gorkowa, CEO at EG Event Productions, to share the main precautions event pros will need to have when choosing a virtual event platform.
1. How do you see the new normal, post-pandemic world looking like for the events industry?
In my opinion events industry will be busier then it used to be. In person and online events are not going anywhere. Hybrid events will be the new normal.
Many companies transitioned into virtual work environment which means they will be doing more team building events in order to keep a healthy work environment.
In addition, some companies will continue doing online meetings in order to save on travel/hotel costs.
2. Do you think virtual events will remain as a norm or come back as an alternative? Why?
I think only some meetings and conferences will continue with the online format since people do prefer in-person events. As mentioned above hybrid will be the way to go since companies can extend their event invite to clients/staff all over the world.
3. During the last recession, in 2008, many companies cut off their in-person events budget, generating a decrease in revenue and a longer struggle on the way to recover. What do businesses have to do in order to don’t repeat the same mistake?
Review their company structure and culture, reposition themselves and understand that hosting in-person or online events are important for not only the staff but also the clients.
More people will be working remotely moving forward which means companies will save on office space, cleaning, insurance, snack and housekeeping item costs. With the listed savings this will allow them to increase their event budget.
4. You recently published an article on LinkedIn, where you share 20 questions a Event Pro needs to ask software vendors at the demo of an online event platform. Can you name the main two or three questions among these that have been helping you the most? Why?
► Can you give me examples of similar events that have used this product, or better, put me in touch with someone who has already used it like I am planning to?
Seeing examples or case studies of successful events is very reassuring. A company that openly connects clients (in a GDPR compliant way) is an open company willing to share best practices. Meeting with existing clients is really useful and shows a generosity that is commendable.
References from clients who have successfully used the platform for a similar type of event are a must-have if you want to be reassured that the product will work for you. Getting to talk to these clients can also help you uncover what type of hurdles they faced and how they overcame them.
► What bandwidth is necessary for our event to run smoothly?
– This is to ensure sites don’t crash when everyone is trying to log on and be realistic about the usage. If you have on-demand content, will everyone be logging in at 9 am? Probably not, but you still want to be prepared for the usage and budget accordingly as applicable. There is nothing worse than lags and crashes during a online event, so you want to be prepared for the possibility of a great number of attendees logging in at the same time.
► What features does your product include for engagement and networking?
– Engagement and networking are two aspects of live events that might suffer the most from the pivot to online. Ask your vendor if his product offers ways for attendees to engage. It can be via chat, polls, Q&A, whiteboard. Also, check if breakout rooms are included and the platform offers a networking area where attendees can have live interactions, one-on-one meetings, etc.
► How intuitive and simple to use is the platform for both planners and attendees?
– Oftentimes, platforms ‘brag’ about having robust support and training certificates, but that just means their platform is too complicated to use. The experience when using the product needs to be user-friendly, and not just designed for tech geeks and early adopters. You don’t want your team to spend valuable time going through training hurdles when the pivot to virtual has to be done in sometimes a matter of days/weeks. Also, you don’t want attendees to spend the whole event trying to figure out how to make the tech work.
► What are the pricing options?
– The pricing structure of the platform can be a flat fee including all the features available. But especially for large events or requests for special customizations or tailor-made solutions, tech vendors will price their product on a case-by-case basis.
This ‘a la carte’ pricing doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t rely on a general price model. Knowing what their model is can help you build a budget range, and understand which options are available for which added cost.
Be careful, some platforms will charge you by how many concurrent sessions or speakers you have, and that can easily add up.
- The 2020 guide for perfect online events [and how to migrate your live event to webinars, virtual meetups and live streaming]
- What to expect from a post-pandemic world [8 macro insights and possible scenarios]
- How to increase productivity when working from home [5 step practical guide for teams and individuals]