While borders are reopening and live events are returning, it seems the future of events will remain hybrid. According to an article by Forbes (Scales, 2021), the virtual events industry was worth nearly $78 billion in 2019 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027. Therefore, designing engaging and meaningful experiences in virtual and hybrid events is a critical task for event organizers.
Hosting a virtual event can be significantly more challenging than hosting an in-person event due to the increased complications that may arise from several tech integrations and features involved. For the virtual component of the event (Paananen, 2020), you will need at least 3 basic features:
A Livestream Platform - To live broadcast your sessions
A Virtual Event Platform - To host your virtual event
An Event Networking Tool - To help attendees connect and interact virtually
To meet these requirements, many virtual event platforms have emerged over the past year. However, the rise of several virtual management platforms can sometimes overwhelm event organizers while attempting to find an adequate fit.
How to begin choosing the best platform for you?
Before you choose an event platform, the aims and objectives of your event must be established (Hardy, 2020). Most make the mistake of diving straight into the technical requirements when looking for a good virtual event platform. However, the first question to ask yourself is “What is the goal and objective of this event?”
Objectives first, then features.
Once you know the goals you want to achieve, you are able to quickly identify the features you require to achieve success in your event. On that note, it is also important to have the following features in your event's execution.
1. Engage Sponsors and Exhibitors
Monetizing your event is important. However, monetizing a virtual event can be challenging as it lacks the place and time for sponsors and exhibitors to meet attendees face-to-face. Hence, it is important to choose a platform that offers features and opportunities. At Deal Room, we offer personalized virtual booths that allow sponsors to build their own private and unique sessions with attendees.
2. Networking Features
To keep attendees engaged, good networking is a must-have in every event. Providing a virtual experience poses a challenge to creating meaningful connections, it is thus necessary to select a platform that offers comprehensive functions that promote the best networking experience.
3. Supports Live and On-Demand Content
Interaction is key to benefiting attendees, especially virtual participants. As pre-recorded sessions do not allow virtual participants to interact with speakers, make sure to choose a virtual event platform that allows you to stream live content.
4. Strong Support
A virtual event means the possibility of technical issues. As such, a good support team available is needed. Ensure that the virtual event platform chosen has strong support that is available and easily accessible to aid you in every step.
The virtual event platform chosen will be the main touchpoint for virtual participants. To make their event experience pleasant, the system must be simple and easy to use with a user-friendly interface. The last thing you want is for attendees to log out because it is difficult to navigate the platform.
The image of your company will be presented through the events you hold so your event must be customized in a way that with one look, participants can recognize your brand. Also, consider how the platform can help you customize the experience for your attendees. For example, enabling attendees to have personalized agendas.
7. Audience Engagement
With the challenges of distractions and screen fatigue, when choosing the best platform, it is vital to consider the tools offered to promote engagement with participants, especially virtual attendees. Some of these tools include Q&As, live discussions, and quizzes, etc (Hardy, 2020).
8. Data Analytics
Having key, insightful data analytics is essential as it helps determine the performance of the event and aids in future event decision-making. These data and insights about attendees will allow you to learn or confirm the needs and wants of your audiences, which continuously helps improve your customer experience.
Investing in a good virtual event platform is a vital decision. A good platform will make a big difference in the quality and experience of your events. With all the time, money, and resources involved in business events, it is important to take your time to choose the right and most suitable platform ensuring it complements your organization’s goals and objectives.
At Deal Room, we create custom-fit and engaging events. Our powerful attendee engagement tool, amongst others, offers comprehensive networking functionalities to connect participants of any type of event, promoting meaningful connections. Check out our platform and service to support your events or talk to our team to learn more.
Hardy, E. (2020, October 23). How to host a successful virtual event for your business if you've never done it before, according to online event planners. Business Insider. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-plan-host-successful-virtual-event-for-business-2020-10.
Paananen, J. (2020, April 17). Council post: How to hold a successful virtual event. Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/04/17/how-to-hold-a-successful-virtual-event/?sh=1ea1d1ff3c7c.
Scales, D. (2021, February 9). Council post: With virtual events likely here to stay, make them succeed for you. Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2021/02/10/with-virtual-events-likely-here-to-stay-make-them-succeed-for-you/?sh=10f0caa690d4.
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