Platforms for change

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Platforms for change

The Conference Director’s Michelle Fanus gives an overview of some of the virtual event software platforms on offer.

With the lockdown ban on live events, virtual events have been a God-send – saving the bacon of many organisers over the past few months.

However, now that many are moving out of survival mode, how can virtual events really drive value and what should planners be looking for when selecting a delivery platform?

I’d like to share some tips for creating more value from your virtual events and compare and contrast here online event software platforms in my comparison grid (below).

Meeting and event organisers should be looking for a software platform that:

  1. Creates a delightful experience for all attendees
  2. Ticks as many boxes as possible to meet the criteria set and, if not, can be integrated seamlessly with other software platforms e.g. registration or live streaming solutions
  3. Is good value for money and can translate into a hybrid platform when we return to live events
  4. Is the best platform for the specific event concept in question – avoiding the one size fits all approach
  5. Offers customisable digital spaces for branding and sponsorship packages
  6. Has in-built reporting and analytics
  7. Offers event set up and management support

Generating value from virtual events

The biggest obstacle on the road to virtual event success for most conference organisers is that it’s difficult to replicate certain event formats in the virtual model. You just can’t make a virtual event personal enough to match the live experience.

So what’s the value that live events bring and how do you unlock that potential virtually?

1. Content is King

Knowing what content to deliver to your audience is an obvious place to start. Create value with compelling content and people will flock. We’ve seen impressive delegate registration numbers reported. A 500 in-person conference could easily swell to a 2,000-person virtual conference. Content is now delivered globally, delivering previously hard to reach speakers online, giving extra insight.

Also, using gamification can create delightful unexpected experiences for your delegates and can significantly boost audience engagement.

2. Create irresistible sponsorship opportunities

Lead generation is the same whether  it’s online or offline. This is where platforms that offer sales funnel or lead capture and tracking will be invaluable. In fact, we could argue that digital lead capture is a lot easier than in-person lead capture! This feature unlocks huge sponsorship potential with the creation of more digital assets, driving more sponsor exposure, which of course boosts sponsorship and exhibition revenues.

What’s not to love?

3. Choose the right virtual event platform that suits your needs – both in terms of content and in terms of concept and delivery ROI

Virtual Event Platforms

With the whole world on Zoom, there is a huge lack of awareness of just what else is out there.

I remember more than 10 years ago dabbling with online event software and loathing it, but it’s been a life saver for a lot of us. Video conferencing has been with us for decades but much more nifty and clever technology has also arrived.

What platform you choose really depends on four main factors:

  1. Event format and style of content
  2. Desired aims and objectives for the
    event
  3. Size of budget
  4. Size of delegate audience

Standard video conference platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Lifesize, Microsoft Teams, Skype and Jitsi fit the bill for a straightforward Town Hall, one to many (000s) style presentation. Lifesize in particular offers HD quality video. These platforms are also fine for breakouts of 25-50 people with Q&A, depending on the platform. All have freemium to paid options with additional features.

Virtual event platforms such as Workcast, Glisser, Blue Jeans, All in the Loop and Hopin offer the ideal solution for content-led and sponsorship-led concepts. Being able to deliver breakouts, streams and peer-to-peer networking brings us closer to the live experience with a huge sigh of relief.

Audience engagement features such as polls, surveys; real time feedback and Q&A invite interaction from attendees. Glisser is particularly geared up for audience engagement with leader boards, most engaged attendees and lottery pickers to boost audience interaction with gamification. You can really drive value to sponsors and exhibitors with the virtual exhibitions using private video chat, content download features and branded lobbies and podiums. As mentioned above, these platforms really come into their own with the powerful reporting and analytics functions. Testing content by seeing the most popular or engaged speaker or sponsor can transform audience insight and the value delivered to sponsor partners.

A step further into the virtual experience with platforms such as vFairs and INEXPO offers audience avatars and personas bringing the personal touch to your exhibition networking. Multi-lingual content, immersive video and other cool features are also available.

To enhance your next virtual event experience consider also items like dedicated studio space for broadcast quality presentations, digital backdrops and the creation of holograms to name just a few. Festivals have been using holograms for some time now.

If you want to learn more about the platforms, contact Michelle Fanus at: info@theconferencedirector.com and visit: www.theconferencedirector.com 

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.

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