If you are an event planner in 2020, then you probably are familiar with either of the following scenarios. Scenario 1 - you have looked at various virtual event technology solutions available out there but can’t seem to make a decision, as none of them fit your needs. Or, scenario 2, you had to quickly pivot your events program to virtual, so you ended up choosing your virtual event technology in haste and now are re-evaluating that choice and looking for a more advanced alternative.
Irrespective of whichever category you may fall in, you are not alone. There are many event professionals out there who are also wracked with indecision over picking the right virtual event tech.
This is where we can help. At Cvent, we have been hard at work trying to resolve the challenges faced by our community of 300,000+ users as they made their switch to virtual events. Based on their experiences and feedback on using our latest virtual event technology offering, we have managed to compile a checklist for buying the ideal event tech solution for virtual events.
Why Virtual Events?
But before we talk about virtual event technology, let’s first understand the value of virtual events.
For most of you, virtual events probably only began to exist after the global health crisis. But you will be surprised to know that many corporations have been using Cvent for their virtual events program for more than a decade. In fact, Cvent has always recognised the potential of virtual events. So much so, that our salespeople would often be asked by prospects and customers as to, ‘why does Cvent promote online meetings (over WebEx, Adobe Connect, Zoom). Why can’t you fly over to our city for the meeting?’. While there is no denying the power of face-to-face meetings (they are much more effective in building valuable connections), virtual meetings and events also have the potential to add value to your events program, if done right.
Imagine if you were doing an event that required you to call 100 attendees to a 5-star venue, block 2 nights on single occupancy, and make arrangements for meals, flights, sight-seeing, conference rooms, production, registration, and all the works. That event alone sets you back by more than $100,000 (Source: experience). So if you were doing 10 such events in a year, in total, you end up spending over $1 million annually on physical events, which would be expected to bring in a 3x to 5x return. (Source 1, Source 2). Now consider increasing that annual event budget by 10% so that you could include virtual events in your strategy. So this means with just an additional 10% budget, you can run more than 100 virtual events and meetings in a year, each with an attendance of 100 pax. That’s 1/100th of the cost of your physical events. And considering the 3x to 5x return from these virtual events, you have managed to add half a million to your organisation! That’s not all — by adding virtual events to your plan, you also make your events and meetings program global. That’s the value of virtual events!
How to pick your virtual event tech
Now that your understand the significance of virtual events, it’s time to talk about event tech. Keep in mind that around 75% of your virtual event budget would probably go towards technology spend. That means technology becomes the thing that can make or break your virtual event program. With so many choices available, and the success of your events at stake, it’s critical to know what to look for. So you need to make a list of all the critical capabilities you require in your virtual event tech platform. Don’t worry – finding the ideal platform isn’t that hard. (Spoiler alert: a one-stop solution is all you need.)
Here are some questions you need to ask to distinguish your ideal virtual event tech provider from others:
- Does the technology support both pre-recorded and live sessions?
- Can the technology help collect registrations based on event requirements?
- What about integrating the virtual event technology with your CRM/MarTech systems? How long does it take? Can you run a test first?
- Does the technology support attendee tracking? If yes, to what extent? For e.g. You may want to know what sessions Mr. X attended, along with what questions he asked, what time did he login, what was the most viewed content by him and most importantly, what did he rate the event, so that your sales team is aware of what conversations to have with Mr. X. Can your system provide such a customised report?
- What kind of post-sales support will you get from the technology provider?
- Are there any professional services provided by the technology provider? (like customising the graphics/layout needed for the virtual sessions)
Once you have answers to these basic questions, you will have a starting point to continue and build the requirements for your technology provider. But wait, what about event marketing (event website, email invites)? What about data security? What about the attendee experience? You will need to consider these factors as well, as they are crucial elements in your virtual events strategy. The technology you need will depend on the type of virtual events you’ll be hosting. To pick the right solution, you will need to first understand what’s available and what will fit your needs.
Just like an in-person event, virtual events benefit from the use of an entire event technology platform that helps you promote, execute and manage your event. Pick a complete solution that ticks all the boxes and enables you to reliably and securely produce engaging, measurable virtual events.
In conclusion, executing impactful virtual events requires the right plan and the right technology. A one-stop-shop solution that covers everything from registration to reporting is your best bet if you want to deliver a sound virtual experience while keeping attendees engaged.