In the wake of 2020's virtual events boom, event management and programming likely became a much larger part of your work life. Since it looks like virtual events will stay in the limelight for the foreseeable future, is it time to partner with a professional virtual event management, webinar programming, and technical support company? Where's the tipping point?
There are several factors that come into play when deciding on your virtual events programming and strategy. At what point is it more efficient and cost effective to outsource your event services? Are you spending more time on event management than content creation and event marketing and promotion? Let's narrow down the questions and considerations to keep in mind when making such an important decision.
What's Involved in Producing a Virtual Event?
More than you may realize! Here's a short breakdown of typical tasks involved with virtual event production:
✔ Building Registration pages (including registration questions that gather the registrant data you would like)
✔ Invitations and email communications (such as registration confirmation, event reminders, post-event survey invitations, etc.)
✔ Reporting - both pre-event and post-event, customized for your specifics
✔ Attendee engagement strategies and planning
✔ Accessibility considerations (closed captioning, optimization for screen readers)
✔ Multiple language resources
✔ Technical rehearsal/run-through
✔ Speaker training/preparation
✔ Day-of preparation and pre-event conference with presenters
✔ Live event technical support
✔ Professional moderation during your events
✔ Sufficient trained staffing to produce, moderate, and support
✔ Post-event attendee survey provisioning
✔ Post-event archive management
✔ Cloud storage for event recordings
This list doesn't include content development, speaker procurement, or marketing, which are the core elements of your event in the first place! To decide whether it's time to hire an outside vendor for virtual event services instead of coordinating in house, take some time to assess your current situation and weigh the pros and cons. Ask:
Do You Have Enough People on Your Team?
They say it takes a village. Is your village looking more like a ghost town? Necessary event roles include:
• Organizer — Event host, coordinator, curator, and event team lead
• Producer — Live event manager; including stream control, content queue, back channel chat lead
• Moderator — Event facilitator, including tasks such as lobby monitoring, Q & A, and timekeeping
• Presenter — Delivers content and commentary
A virtual summit or conference with multiple sessions running simultaneously will require more personnel. If your virtual events have a "peak" season, additional event staff and training will also be part of your plan. Don't forget to account for unexpected absences as part of your event staffing plan as well.
While some roles mentioned above can be combined, e.g., an event organizer can also serve as a producer, juggling multiple event roles while still maintaining focus on content, promotion, and ensuring your events run smoothly is challenging.
Some good questions to ask yourself as you are deciding:
Does Your Event Software Do What You Need?
After identifying your target audience, deciding on the attendee data you wish to collect, and deciding how the event staff hiring and training timeline will go, consider whether your current event software is capable of delivering. Is there sufficient security and privacy compliance? How about in-event engagement tools such as polls? How complicated is the program to use in real time, and do you have the expertise in-house to maximize its use? Consider:
• Registration -The ability to collect data at the time of attendee registration is a key element to understanding the effectiveness of your event marketing and the entry point for lead generation. Does your event software provide the tools you need to accomplish this?
• Analytics -Does your software platform help you gather audience intelligence for the entire lifecycle of your event? Pre-event, during, and post?
• Reporting -Are you able to present and interpret the data collected in a way that supports your efforts at event success?
• Security and Privacy - Does your current platform leave your organization vulnerable if you are hosting attendees from outside your company?
• Features -Does the software do what you want and need it to do? Is it easy to navigate for both you and your attendees?
• Growth -Will it scale to meet your growing needs?
Are you hosting a big, giant event with many moving parts? Complex events involve multiple access links for sessions and breakouts, monetization/payment processing, extra layers of security, additional staffing/moderation needs for events that run simultaneously, as well as data gathering and reporting. Or, do you have an on-going event program?
Designing your events for accessibility is an important, but often overlooked piece of event programming. Planning for access with closed captioning, ensuring multiple language availability, formatting content for screen readers, adding post-event transcripts and WebVTT files, and even building in appropriate breaks when planning and moderating should be included in your accessibility plan.
What to Look For
Some essential elements a professional virtual event management company should be able to service for you:
Flexibility -Are they able to help you with both one-time event management and ongoing virtual event program management?
Experienced Event Staffing -re they able to ramp up and be ready to help quickly?
Knowledgeable - Do they have experience in the areas you need the most assistance? Event production, moderation, technical assistance, accessibility, etc.
Accountability -Will they own up to any mistakes and work with you to make it right?
Expertise -How long have they been in the virtual event management industry? Who are some of their customers?
Professionalism - How do interactions with you and your team go? Do they present themselves appropriately, reply to you quickly, and stay in contact with you? How do they respond to feedback?
Phew! The details can feel overwhelming. When preparing to decide, gather the data you have on past events, assess cost-benefit, and take advantage of visualization tools to clarify the decision you are making.
The Whole Package
Did you know EventBuilder has been in the virtual events space for decades? We provide the highest level of professional event management and services possible, and we want to be a part of your growth in the virtual events space. We're nice, too. Contact us for a consultation today!