Event planners have come a long way in the past 12 months. They’ve gone from floorplans and face-to-face event strategies to postponements, cancellations and the daunting task of having to pivot to online. As the coronavirus crisis escalated, a majority were simply happy to keep clients connected via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams - no frills, no production values, just keep those vital conversations flowing. In fact, by April last year, the number of meeting participants using the video conferencing app, Zoom grew by 50% to 300 million daily log-ins. That’s 100 million more online delegates than the previous month, forced to switch from physical to digital meeting interactions due to the pandemic.
As the realisation set-in that staging virtual meetings and events wouldn't just be a three-month necessity, planners understood that they needed to up-skill and find digital solutions for greater attendee engagement and end-to-end virtual event management. Even with the much-anticipated return of in-person events, the additional reach, sponsorship opportunities and content dissemination offered by a virtual event platform means that event management has changed and a digital offering is now a vital part of the planner toolkit. However, with hundreds of platforms now available, how can you determine which is the right one for your events programme?
Firstly, choose a platform that will future-proof your events, whether you stage in-person or virtual, or a combination of both. Remember, the way events are managed, attended, and experienced has changed and likely changed forever. So, your chosen platform needs to drive attendee engagement, capture valuable data and deliver sponsor and stakeholder value across all formats. Then, match your virtual event goals with must-have features. If your goal is to foster networking among your attendees, you’ll want to look at platforms that are purpose-built for interaction, and use tools like polling or Q&A to engage the audience. If your goal is to provide added value for sponsors, you’ll need platform features that can be branded and adapted, such as check-ins and chatrooms, along with the ability to host pre-recorded video content as well as live streams.
You’ll also need a platform that provides a high level of data and analytics. Just like in-person events, with the right engagement strategy, your virtual events can deliver a raft of valuable information. As virtual attendees register, attend sessions, engage in live Q&A and polling, attend appointments, or provide feedback, they are giving you data that can help you to drive revenue or develop your content. When sourcing a technology partner, make sure they can capture attendee profile data and content engagement data, as well as basic event data, before then integrating it with your key systems.
The real value of virtual event data is realised only when integrated with your Customer/Association Management Systems and Marketing Automation Systems to achieve a single source of truth. This critical last mile allows your virtual event data to be combined with what you already know about your attendees, so your sales and marketing teams can follow-up on the complete picture of interest. Finally, make sure your platform is user-friendly and easy to navigate, both at the front-end and back-end. In addition to you and your team, speakers, sponsors, and other stakeholders might also be using the platform so you’ll want to make sure it’s a positive experience for both them and the virtual attendee.
Here at Cvent, we believe that the perfect virtual event solution is an end-to-end solution that can house everything in one place, giving you more time to focus on your event strategy and less on administrative tasks. Even if you’re using other systems or collaborating with other suppliers, you should always be able to integrate tools and software for a fully holistic experience. The Cvent Virtual Attendee Hub® enables planners to leverage one platform for a consistent, fully-branded experience at each step of the virtual event lifecycle. The platform gives planners a choice of broadcasting live, simulive, or on-demand to any user, on any device, anywhere in the world. If you’re looking to add sponsor value, you can offer virtual booths, branded sessions and the ability to pre-schedule appointments. Plus, our platform provides rich attendee and digital event data including per attendee engagement scores, web analytics, and dynamic surveys for faster, smarter follow-up.
For more help and advice on staging virtual or hybrid events, download our Virtual Event Strategy and Execution Practitioner’s Guide or our Virtual Event Strategy for Dummies guide or head to the Cvent UK website for a wealth of top tips and tricks on how to use the tools available.