Over the past three months, we have met with over 60 organisations that are considering the move to virtual meetings. Many organisers tell us they are really struggling to settle on the right platform/ approach for their events. In this short article we outline the challenges and the possible solutions:
1. When will I know what show I am running?
For those organisers who are holding events before the end of September, most are making firm plans to run their event virtually. While this may be an upheaval from previous events, at least only one medium is available. For those planning events October to June 2021, there may be more options, and therefore more indecision. The simplest solution, but the hardest work, is to plan three conferences - a pure virtual, a hybrid and a full face-to-face event…. but that does mean planning (and therefore paying for) three events. A halfway house many are choosing is to have the full plan for the hybrid/ studio event…this is the one that is relatively easy to re-imagine as a full virtual and to keep a watching brief on venue availability until things become clearer.
2. How do I choose the right virtual event platform for my needs?
Some of the planners we meet look like they have been on at least 10 recent virtual meeting platform demos and you can tell that they are suffering from 'demo-overload'. As platform providers, we are always going to want to show you our wares, but is that best for you? Here is what one client tried: write out a list of the twelve features that you think you need in a virtual meeting platform (but don’t put any priority order on them). Send the list to prospective vendors and ask them which 4 are particular strengths. Do a ranking exercise on the 12 features with your colleagues/ meeting organiser and then select your shortlist of platform providers based on how things match up.
3. Am I planning for a single event or am I re-imagining my whole events programme?
While the early focus has been on moving the next meeting online, pretty soon, organisers started to look at platforms which could support the whole event programme and this becomes very complex. Our expectation is that most organisations will have between 4 & 8 providers for different scenarios so the sooner you start to map out the full meeting/ event programme the sooner you can start to put providers in the right boxes. Some of the variations you will need to plan for are:
- Small (<20) vs Large (200) vs very large (2000)
- Self-service vs managed
- Screen share/basic meeting vs high production quality
- Internal vs External
- Dissemination vs discussion
If you want a no-obligation discussion to explore any of the themes in this article please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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