Are Your Eggs in One Basket?
August 2021 - Cloud Conventions CEO Carolyn Bradfield
The pivot to virtual in 2020 came as a shock to our system. We were unprepared and found them much more difficult than we realized. Event staff was trained to engage attendees on the show floor, sell a 10 X 10 booth, and run a live event, but found virtual perplexing.
Fast forward into 2021 and events came back as millions of people got the shot, ICU wards emptied out, and people got back in the air and on the road. Then it happened all over again. The Delta Variant came out of nowhere, more people resisted taking the shot and a contagious strain take hold forcing us back to mandated masking and indoor restrictions.
How Do You Set Up a Virtual Event as a Back Up Plan?
If event organizers believed they were finally off the hook and that all they had to do was to stage their event in the Convention Center, think again. Attendees are still nervous, speakers are opting out of traveling, and cities are taking a harder stance against indoor events. If the experience with virtual in 2020 demotivated you to add a virtual component to the live event, your eggs are now in a basket that may be at risk of tipping over.
It’s not too late to hedge your bet, get a virtual option in place and make sure that your event can stage no matter what.
1. Ask speakers to record their sessions in advance.
If speakers can’t make it to the venue or if the event must pivot to virtual or hybrid, session content can still be available to attendees in a virtual environment. Record sessions in advance and save the recording to an MP4 file so it can be embedded or uploaded into the virtual platform for on-demand viewing.
2. Create a sponsor package that includes both live and virtual.
Give sponsors more opportunities to engage with attendees by including virtual participation in their sponsor package. Companies already have digital assets, graphics and marketing materials. Be ready to help them bring those assets online in a virtual booth.
3. Be ready to onboard attendees into the virtual environment.
Connect with your event registration provider to make sure you can export the list of attendees into a .csv or Excel file. Make sure the attendee database in the virtual event technology has matching fields to accept the data. Then have a welcome email ready to explain to attendees what to expect in a virtual environment.
4. Have an agenda on standby that includes both virtual and live components.
Take an inventory of recorded sessions to determine an appropriate balance of live and on-demand content. Consider engaging a production company to help stream the live keynote or important sessions and make them available in a virtual environment.
5. Get a virtual exhibit strategy ready.
Sponsors are generally divided into silver, gold and platinum levels, so create booth templates that support each exhibit level. Determine how to display exhibitors in a virtual exhibitor hall or provide an exhibitor directory. Consider ad placement opportunities around the virtual platform and other opportunities for sponsors to support the virtual environment.
Have a plan to bring the virtual environment online quickly if attendance drops or there is a need to cancel the live event If you have a virtual platform on standby, have on-demand sessions available, and a plan to onboard exhibitors and attendees, then a virtual component can come online to complement or replace your live event.