By Christina Bauders, CMP, Event Services Executive, The Core Management Company
To say that 2020 has been challenging would be a tremendous understatement, especially for meeting, event, and hospitality professionals. Over the last several months, there has been no choice but to change course and pivot (that dreaded word) to virtual events. As we have had to reimagine a key component of our industry, I’ve discovered new learnings that have dramatically improved the virtual event experience for attendees and association management teams.
While planning a virtual event is like planning an in-person event, there are a lot of key differences. The most obvious is using a virtual event platform versus a physical location. It is incredibly important to build your event first, and then find a platform that works for your need, as opposed to selecting the platform first. There are so many options available in all price points, you will find something that will work.
When determining the price to attend the event, do not underrate it. There are several benefits to participating in a virtual conference that attendees would not receive if they were to attend an in-person event. Not only will they save on travel costs, they will save on time too. Virtual events allow attendees to build their conference experience around their own schedule. In addition, attendees will not have to select one session from a handful of concurrent ones. Instead, they have the ability to participate in every session they choose.
Customer service must be a priority and should be staffed accordingly. During in-person events, if there is a technical issue, attendees can see that everyone else is also experiencing the same issue. However, when attendees are attending a virtual event, they are logging in to a portal and will typically be by themselves. If a technical issue occurs, attendees are not aware of who else might be experiencing the same issue and may worry that they are the only ones missing out. Having staff on hand to answer questions and notify attendees of issues is incredibly important. If your staff is not tech savvy, hiring an IT team to resolve issues quickly would be the most ideal.
Virtual events are a great way to remain connected and provide opportunities for education and engagement. While planning virtual events may seem overwhelming at first, they can be quite beneficial to your company and attendees. Selecting a platform that works for your program, appropriately setting your event pricing and providing top notch customer service are three ways you can ensure that your virtual event is successful.