While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced in-person events to come to a screeching halt, the need to generate leads, educate audiences, and connect with customers has not gone away. Actually, it’s probably more important now than ever before. So, how can you effectively engage your audience during these perplexing times? Through a well-executed, seamless virtual event experience.
Although virtual events have been happening for years, there are still many unknowns when it comes to planning and executing one. First off, what is the difference between a virtual event platform and virtual event production? Secondly, how exactly do you decipher what you need?
Here, we break down all the details that will help you put together a successful digital event experience.
A Virtual Event Platform is like a Live Event Venue.
Think of the virtual event platform as the convention center, hotel, or venue where you normally host your live event. The virtual event platform is the foundation of your event. It’s the place where your speakers, attendees, sponsors, and any other participants go to interact with each other. Without a platform, your virtual event cannot exist.
There are thousands of venues available to host a live event, and the same is true for virtual event platforms. When booking an event venue, you decide based on the size, location, and amenities. With a virtual event platform, it’s about price, functionality, and unique feature sets. However, just as with your live event venue, in order to have a smooth, memorable, and well-thought-out event, you need the support of virtual event production services.
What Should I Look for in a Virtual Event Platform?
Before the industry was disrupted, there were plenty of SaaS platforms for hosting virtual events. Now, there are dozens more on the market. It’s difficult to sort through them all. Each come with their pros and cons and each serve a purpose based on the scale and scope of the event. These are a few key features we think you should take into consideration when choosing a virtual event platform.
Upon check-in at a conference, attendees receive badges to wear for many reasons:
- Access to the expo, sessions, and other happenings
- Ability to gather data
- And, of course, for security
The same goes for your virtual event platform. You should be able to:
- Allow access for only registered users
- Restrict access to certain sessions based on geo-location or other parameters
- Remain GDPR and CCPA compliant
- Protect the security of your attendee’s information without disrupting the user experience at all
When you book a venue, you customize the environment, and the overall experience, to bring the event to life. Customizing your virtual event platform with consistent branding, messaging, and interaction does the exact same thing for your virtual audience. What options should be customizable? Here are a few examples:
- Event landing and registration pages
- Conference dashboards where attendees view their sessions and plan their agenda
- Virtual rooms such exhibit halls, breakouts, auditoriums, networking lounges, fireside chats, and more
- Pre, during, and post-event communications
- Audience interaction such as Q&A, chat, one-to-one networking, polling, social media feeds, quizzes or trivia, raffles, gamification, leaderboards, and more
In a live event, it’s easy to feel the excitement in the room, right before a speaker jumps on the stage. Live broadcasting can emulate that feeling, creating anticipation and enabling you to interact with your audience in unique and powerful ways.
To attract registrants for a trade show or conference, you advertise the number of sessions there are. These happen simultaneously throughout the entire convention center. The same theory applies for a virtual experience. Multi-speaker functionality is essential when choosing a virtual event platform.
Oftentimes there’s pre-recorded content at a trade show to create interest and relay messaging. The ability to upload pre-recorded content into your virtual event platform can do the same. It’s important to have a mix of both live and pre-recorded content to maximize the efficiency of your team and improve the show flow.
Analytics & Reporting
Event profs have a variety of tried-and-true and new methods for data collection at an in-person event. However, there are even more opportunities to obtain robust data analytics from a virtual event. When evaluating platforms, determine the amount of data you’re able to capture. Each touchpoint from an attendee is an indicator of preference and intent. These triggers enable your team to:
- Discover best practices
- Determine a path of continued engagement, and
- Use findings to plan future events
Capturing your event in its entirety is invaluable. The content can be used in various ways to further engage attendees or a broader audience after your event concludes. Or, to generate buzz for your next online gathering. It can also help you build a library of resources which can:
- Help companies get inbound leads
- Aid in ongoing training and development
- Spark other content ideas
Production is Just as Important, if not More, for a Virtual Event.
If a virtual event platform is the foundation of your event, just as a conference center or venue is for your live event, virtual event production is not only the glue that holds your whole event together, it’s the part that helps truly elevate your brand and bring your vision to life.
A virtual event production partner can help you with:
- Platform assessment, on-boarding, and design
- Pre-event production planning and logistics management
- Creation of a fully brandable environment that reinforces your brand, colors, content, and textures
- Delivering actual audience interactivity
- White-glove level speaker support for set-up, testing, and recording sessions
- Virtual event speaker kits to ensure high-quality recording and a consistent look and feel
- Content creation and creative enhancements to your event to elevate the viewing experience including event graphics, slides, videos, and more
- Rehearsal day and live event day show technical support
What’s right for you?
A structure isn’t complete without the foundation and the necessary parts around it. You wouldn’t host an in-person event without a production partner or team, so why would you do the same with your virtual experience? A virtual event production partner can help you achieve an experience that’s as close to an in-person event as possible.
Many haven’t had the need to plan a virtual event, until now. With a production partner, you can build a customized structure that’s tailored to the experience you want to give. Plus, you’ll have access to specialists who are familiar with live-streaming technology as well as sound, lighting, and production quality.
If you’re looking for a holistic approach, please get in touch. We can be BOTH the foundation (virtual event platform) and the glue (virtual event production) for your user conference, sales meeting, awards ceremony, or whatever virtual event you can think of. We can also be your virtual event production partner to ensure your event goes off without a hitch on your own virtual event platform. Request a consultation, and together we’ll discover the best path forward for your brand.
OVATION is a live, virtual & hybrid event production company that helps brands drive revenue and energize their audience.
From ‘wow-worthy’ event design and production to anywhere, anytime, any device content design, development and distribution, we integrate your event content and strategy with your company’s overall strategic initiatives. Let us help you identify opportunities for strategically integrating all things virtual into your next event. Contact us today.