Plenty of things about planning a virtual event cause stress and confusion. But perhaps none other brings as many questions as the infamous choice of platform. In a matter of months, this particular industry segment witnessed an extraordinary boom. And as virtual events kept evolving, planners were bombarded with dozens of features and opportunities from platforms swearing they were the next big thing. Considering the circumstances, it’s no wonder so many event profs become exasperated and downright overwhelmed.
But the question remains: in face of so many virtual event platform features, how are you supposed to make a choice? What should you prioritize? Well, here at Endless, we’ve done a lot of homework. Not only do we help each organization make the right choice for their perfect event, but we’ve also undergone the necessary training. So we decided to give you some precious insight into the world of virtual event platform features. Let’s make this process as easy as possible!
It All Starts With The Why
If you’re a veteran Endless reader, then you already know what to start with. Yep, that’s right: goals and objectives! One of the worst things you can do is rush into your choice of platform. Sure, it’s very easy to go with the shiny new toy that promises you heaven and earth. But if you are basing your choice solely on how cool and feature jam-packed a platform is, then you’re not doing your event justice. When it comes to planning, your goals should be the compass guiding your every decision.
Take a second to consider what you want to accomplish with this experience. Is it all about the amazing content and educational value? Then maybe you should invest more in features that support that goal and less in shiny customization. Of course, there are key virtual event platform features we believe every experience should include. However, the question you should consistently ask yourself when evaluating potential platforms is “how do these features support and drive the goals of my event?”.
Moving On To The How
Drawing from the previous thought, once you’ve solidified your goals and objectives, you can start evaluating virtual event platform features with a more critical eye. Looking at all the stages of your event – before, during, and after – what capabilities are absolutely necessary? For instance, let’s say you want to achieve a higher level of brand awareness. In this case, it’s important that a platform allows you to fully customize rooms, booths, content, and more.
Maybe you want this particular event to be all about the content and evergreen lead generation. In that case, you’ll want to give priority to the quality of the live stream, as well as the possibility of recording, editing, and making the sessions available post-event in an on-demand fashion.
Once you establish this, you can start crossing out the options that don’t offer this possibility. From there on out, and as you prioritize the features that matter most, it all comes down to a process of elimination. Eventually, you’ll find the perfect platform that meets the top needs of your virtual event! Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to make small concessions in the name of honoring the goals you’ve established. Because as of right now, a one size fits all solution doesn’t yet exist.
Key Virtual Event Platform Features
All of this being said, there is definitely a handful of virtual event platform features that every event should have. Thankfully, most providers got with the program soon enough and do provide at least some of these elements. However, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for capabilities that will both make your virtual event successful and your life as easy as possible.
This will always depend on how tech-savvy your audience is. However, the world of virtual events is as new to attendees as it is to planners. So why not make the experience as easy breezy and seamless as possible from the get-go? Remember that, due to pandemic-adjacent circumstances, the virtual event market is quite saturated. And this means that attendees will have no problem leaving your event and opting for one that offers a no-frills approach. So make sure that the platform you choose doesn’t require a three-day-long course to be understood by those seeing and using it for the first time.
Registration & Ticketing
Staying true to the trend of making the experience as harmonious as can be for your attendees, let’s talk registration. You’ll want access to your event to be easy, a one and done kind of thing. Platforms that offer an integrated feature of ticketing and registration go a long way in removing the barriers to entry to your event. From the audience’s standpoint, it will always be preferable to register directly on the platform. It’s not a make it or break it situation, but in the COVID era, it might be the difference between attracting or discouraging attendance.
Networking & Engagement
The chance to network is one of the main reasons people attend events. And that hasn’t changed with the advent of virtual experiences! Even if attendee engagement and networking aren’t a priority for you, we still encourage you to keep an eye out for platforms that offer your audience the option to connect. The good thing about this particular feature is that it can be achieved in many different ways. From chat rooms to breakout sessions, there are plenty of directions you can take. Which means pretty much every platform out there – even the most basic ones – will somehow include a variation of this feature.
There are many ways to measure the success of your event. But none is as spot-on and relevant as real-time and post-event analytics. Data is like oxygen for most industries, and ours is no exception. The ability to monitor the actions of your attendees will provide key insights into what went well, what could have gone better, and whether or not the goals of the event were ultimately achieved. Not to mention what an asset these assets will represent when planning a future virtual event! So yes, we strongly recommend you pay attention to reporting when looking at virtual event platform features.
Is A Platform Enough?
We’ve spoken at length about how choosing the right platform isn’t enough. Even if you have all the tools necessary to adopt the solution that will better serve you, a good platform alone won’t cut it. Our experts here at Endless strongly advise that you always go to a production team, who not only knows the ropes of the virtual event world, but can also offer consistent support behind the scenes, both before, during, and after your event.
In a time where there is so much choice available, audiences are becoming increasingly more demanding. Quality production needs to go hand in hand with excellent content. So if you have any questions and are still unsure, reach out to us. Our team is always here to help and offer the best insights into the virtual-sphere!