Moving into a new year brings with it a brand new vision for Production for events. When the pandemic hit the world in 2020, the industry did everything possible to survive the sudden postponement and end of live events.
Those who survived did the ultimate pivot. With the fastest execution possible, virtual events were introduced to the world. There was not much thought about how to make them strategic or beneficial. The goal was to connect and engage in some way virtually.
Fast forward a year later, and virtual events and meetings are the norm. The standards are changed and for many of us, the whole idea of virtual events encompasses zoom fatigue and a continuing lack of excitement.
Event Planners know that virtual events are here to stay, and a platform to execute them positively for the long term is the new essential service needed.
Virtual platforms are popping up everywhere, so how do you choose one that best suits your needs and those of your attendees? Instead of seeing what is out there, start first with identifying what you need and want, and ask yourself these questions.
What are your event goals?
First and foremost, know what your goals are! They are the foundation, the compass, for every decision you make regarding your event. Clearly understanding what you are looking to get from your virtual event platform is critical. What’s your purpose? Some event planners are looking to have an outstanding customer experience that will build relationships and promote sales. Others want to create a culture of connection within a team. Others want to get robust training done in a meaningful way that saves time and resources to accomplish. Your goals guide your decision in choosing a virtual event platform.
What type of experience do you want?
Create a checklist to set the elements of the type of experience you envision. This will help you determine what features and tools you need. If you want your experience to be information-based, you won’t need as many features or tools but can handle larger audiences with an educational theme. If you are looking for a highly engaging and interactive experience, you may be more interested in dynamic tools to execute more intimately with small groups and meaningful activities.
What are the essentials?
There has been a lot of talk this past year about what is deemed essential or not. And one thing we have learned is that the list varies amongst businesses and individuals. Just like buying a house, identifying the wishlist of features can help you choose a platform that best suits your vision. I recommend making a list of all the various elements to choose from (just like the number of bedrooms and kitchen features you would in a house) and highlight your must-haves. Be ruthless in using that list to narrow down your choices. Examples of features to consider may include:
- Ticket Sales
- Registration Ease
- An event website or app
- Promotion options for event
- Building tools for agenda
- Networking opportunities
- Interactive attendee participation options
- Statistical and data analytics for strategic planning
- Sponsor and speaker integration ease
What are the non-essentials?
Coming back to the house analogy above, the fenced backyard would be nice but isn’t necessarily on your essential list. It is good to have a list of features you would like to tip the scale if you are still stumped or stuck between comparing 2-3 platforms. Having your non-essentials list handy will help you quickly decide between them.
What growth possibilities may we need for the long-haul?
The future of virtual events is sure to continue to improve and evolve. And if there is one thing we have learned from the pandemic in 2020, change can happen quickly and unexpectedly. Virtual events and hybrid events are here to stay. Choosing an event solution that will adapt to your changing goals and grow with your business in a supportive way is just as important as the one event you have in mind right now. Changing circumstances in the future could mean hybrid events that will benefit from a virtual platform that can support the mix of live and virtual pieces.
Is the platform easy to use?
Being User-friendly is so important! One of the most significant complaints we hear about technology is finding solutions that are user-friendly for those not only managing the back end to create but also for the attendee experience., Confusion is an uncomfortable and annoying feeling, so a platform that eliminates that as much as possible is a game-changer. Clear and available online training and support to easily and seamlessly navigate the platform itself will optimize the experience for you and, by extension, all stakeholders involved. Your participants will engage and enjoy an experience that is easy to follow and keep up with effortlessly.
Does it allow for our branding voice to be applied?
Customizing a production platform reflects your values, brand, and business in a very visual way. Consistency to your brand is vital and applies to a virtual platform, perhaps even more so than a live event. If you want your virtual event to showcase your logo and all of your business’s look and feel, you need a platform that will allow for that creativity. Having your attendees know immediately they are in the right place is key to avoiding confusion and building clear expectations for them.
Do I trust the production company?
Probably the most critical question to ask is based on trust. Trusting the platform and the company that stands behind it is the ultimate decision to make. Even if everything else seems to be checked off your list, you can’t compromise on this. Pay attention to the customer service you receive as you set out on this exploration process of choosing a virtual production company. You want to know that the platform is user-friendly and that help is readily available as needed when you have questions or need support. You want a platform that you trust the people that stand behind it and know you can count on from the conception to completion of every event. You want a provider that sets you up for success, can troubleshoot if things go wrong and are available to guide you through the process at any time.
The decision to choose a virtual event platform is a big one. And can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be if you do your homework.
Do the hard work to choose a virtual platform that you can repeatedly use for your various goals in the future. Investing the time into making the right choice for you will save time, save money and energy in the long run, and most of all, be beneficial and meaningful for attendees.
If you would like to discuss creative ways to work together during this time, please email us at [email protected], and we will be in touch.