Not only do the virtual event platforms do different things they look different too. The best way to choose which to use is to design your event first, so you have a wish list.
Many of the platforms have been developed by companies that previously offered event management software, so they offer you a one stop shop for delegate registration, event websites and the virtual event space. If you are looking for a complete solution then this is a good option, but if all you want is the virtual event space then you are paying for a lot that you don’t need. Different platforms suit different events; it may be that your delegate registration software’s solution is not right for you. There are many platforms that are stand alone and you can import your delegate lists from any registration software.
The Delegate Experience
The delegate experience can be very different on each platform. Most seem to have now opted for a simple Welcome Page. There are then the various tabs or links to the different parts of your conference. Each virtual event space allows for very different levels of branding, sponsor space and exhibition stands. Most do now provide a main stage, breakout sessions, exhibition booths and some method of “chat” for the delegates. There are some platforms that create a virtual exhibition hall or conference centre where each area is sign posted. These are very graphically intense and do require support to set up but look great. You need to think about your target audience and how tech savvy they are. Many virtual events now have a personal agenda for each delegate; this is populated when they register for certain sessions, or if they highlight a “wish list” of sessions from the main conference agenda. This is very easy for those that do not have all day to spend at your event and it means they can simply see when their next session is and click into it from their agenda page.
The Level of Support
The amount of support offered by the platform providers varies greatly and may cost a lot more. It is also vital that you know that the support staff are working in your time zone, just in case something happens on the day. Most companies at least offer you training when you take out a subscription. If you pick a platform that is complex it may be that you have to work with the provider to produce the conference, which will add to the cost. Most virtual events can be built by the event manager; it depends on how confident you feel in the virtual world.
Then of course the other major factor is cost. Platform pricing models vary greatly. Some charge per event, some per registration, some a monthly or annual fee and some a combination of all. Often you pay extra for exhibition stands, networking lounges and breakout rooms.
Some platforms require you to have your own subscriptions to Vimeo for livestreaming, Zoom for breakout rooms etc. This may add to the cost, or if you as a company already have a Zoom subscription or Vimeo account it may save you money. If you are pre-recording content or live streaming it is always best to professionally record/stream sessions. Many hotels and venues have set up temporary “recording studios” that allow for live or pre-recording of individual speakers or panellists. Or if you are running a hybrid event the cost of the live streaming equipment needs to be factored into the cost.
Reporting and Analysis
When thinking of running a virtual or hybrid conference it is vital to have your event goal in mind. You need to pick a platform that gives you the reports and analysis you need to prove your goal has been met. It maybe you just need to know who attended which session. Or you may need to know how many people viewed your exhibitors stands and downloaded content. This is all so important when looking at how successful your event was.
HotelRes have spent a lot of time evaluating different platforms and can help answer any questions you may have. We are happy to pass on any of the information and knowledge we have gained to help guide you in all things virtual and hybrid.
If you are new to virtual or hybrid events we can support you further, we have just joined with an extended team that are able to offer you full support. They provide the platform, picked because it is one of the most stable and reliable out there. Each event is charged separately depending on what you want to achieve but the price always includes:
- full use of the platform; that is optimised to be viewed on smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets
- full support from start to finish
- options for person to person networking and video chat
- live polling and Q & As
- a dedicated team to build your event and offer you advice and support
- events experts to help project manage your event
- 2 technicians to offer on the day support
- customisable registration
- no additional subscriptions or software required everything is hosted on the same platform
If you would like to have a demonstration of the events platform please do let us know or if you have an event in mind and would like a quote send us an email.