Virtual Event Tech alone, won't cut it.
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Around March 2020, virtual event technology became a ‘hot’ keyword search on Google and the ‘it’ word talked about in the events’ industry. The media companies certainly led the way in searching for alternative ways on how to deliver events and sustain their main revenue stream.
The pressure was on! Event managers at media companies and event agencies were immediately tasked with very tight deadlines in transforming in-person events to virtual ones. This meant countless demos with numerous virtual tech suppliers and long lists of questions in trying to identify which tech is the best choice for their projects. The pressure of finding a tech solution was very high and the businesses needed to pivot instantly if they wanted to have any chances of surviving in this new predicament. Pivot became another ‘it’ word in the last few months.
By April 2020, it was clear that the virtual tech available had indeed a breadth of possibilities, but they were only valuable to the event manager who had complete clarity of the event scope, structure and objectives. I became more of a project manager, leading format-defining conversations with the event stakeholders in mapping out the event almost from scratch. What producers and commercial teams had for granted until now had to be re-thought, re-developed and the event manager played an integral role in this process bridging the gap between tech suppliers and event teams since they hold a firm knowledge of the end-result.
Having worked at NS Media Group transforming existing events into virtual since March, it became extremely clear to me that the value of the content and speakers, the right structure, timings and audience engagement on a virtual platform is, undeniably, of make-or-break importance. The sponsors, on the other hand, need assurances that they will get ‘foot fall’ and networking they used to have and even more while paying less. I started compiling on-boarding protocols for speakers and sponsors to facilitate a smooth collaboration, and ensure their high-quality presence at the event. At the same time, I set up video calls to educate the commercial teams on how to pitch the virtual event and created manuals and set up calls with all sponsors to ‘educate’ them on best practises on audience engagement and networking on a virtual platform.
It was time to create and not copy-paste the good-old event formats.
All the event operations and content production processes had to change and I had to re-assess them according to the virtual tech we would be applying for each event format. New tasks and workflows were assigned and the event team and video production has now become an essential part of the event, best practices had to be established fast in collaboration with video & AV suppliers. My background in TV shows certainly proved highly effective here and it is this versatility event professionals can bring into the project.
Most valuable elements yet, data and event life-cycle.
Every step of the delegate on the platform during the event can be tracked and reported in several ways making the event data the new currency. Such tracking and reporting was possible in the past, but employed intricate and costly tech while now we can get quality services at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, the life-cycle of the event has now extended into 30 days or more with the audience and sponsors being able to still meet at the booths or access all sessions on-demand is a game-changer to the value of the event itself.
Virtual or Hybrid event tech is exciting, but it will not make up for a memorable and worthy experience on its own.
In these times of uncertainty and difficult decisions, you must stay flexible and adaptable, but most importantly, be relevant. You must ensure you are including the right stakeholders to achieve this and an experienced event professional will be able to guide through this challenging journey. The expectations from the sponsors were high and they were also very reluctant to join a virtual event, so commercial teams, producers, marketing, and event managers worked together to fight back the insecurities and assure their clients of the power of the virtual tech in the right hands.
Expertise and collaboration are now needed more than ever.
Written by Nelita Groppa
DXM can help you navigate the virtual/hybrid events ecosystem and deliver valuable event experiences.
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