How to Choose the Right Virtual Platform
Evaluating People, Process and Technology
Choosing the right virtual platform is critical to the success of any event with a digital component. With so many platforms out there, how do you pick the right one?
Because we have hosted events of all shapes and sizes, we find that there three key elements to consider when choosing a platform provider.
The Right Technology
Choosing an event platform may be the single most important choice you when adding a virtual component to your show. Use the checklist below to evaluate a provider before making a final decision.
- Is the event platform easy to use?
If you need a developer to make changes you may need to rethink that platform. Often times changes need to be made on the fly, or the last minute. If navigating, editing, or updating the platform is difficult, you could be left with unfinished, poorly formatted, or flat out wrong information on your show site.
- How quickly can you set up the site?
If a platform’s go to market time is weeks rather than days you may want to pass. It is important to make sure your time is spent organizing the event and not setting up the virtual platform.
- What parts can you customize?
Events aren’t one size fits all and the event platform shouldn’t be either. Make sure you can customize the structure, layout, and experience to match your branding from top to bottom.
- Does the event platform offer integrations?
Many event planners use other technologies to support their speakers, register attendees, or onboard exhibitors. To save time and money, you’ll want to make sure the event platform is willing to integrate with other systems. Some capabilities may already be accessible.
- How does the platform engage attendees?
A virtual platform must have features and functionality designed to engage attendees. Endless webinars with no networking or gamification are boring and your audience will wander. Give attendees reasons to stay and view more on the site.
- Can the technology provide a strong ROI for exhibitors and sponsors?
Last but not least, the event platform needs to drive attendees to booths and convert those visitors into leads. After all, exhibitors are the biggest factor when it comes to revenue. The event platform you choose should be designed to maximize ROI and satisfy both the attendees and the sponsors.
The Right Process
After choosing an event platform, the next step is to decide what to do, and how to do it. Create a plan and proceed step by step to implement your vision of a virtual/hybrid show and establish clear deadlines.
Don’t start from scratch
Since the pandemic, many events have successfully executed successful, engaging virtual conferences, but many have been disappointed. There's no need to re-invent the wheel and come up with your own plan. Make sure your platform provider has a proven process to execute a successful event.
Just like with event platforms, one size does not fit all. There isn’t a blueprint that works for every event. Make sure the process you’re following was not just successful, but successful with an event that is similar to yours.
Utilize project management tools
Whether the platform is being managed by your team or the platform provider, you should be using a management tools to organize tasks and meet deadlines. Without a process to stay on target, planning and executing of any event can be very difficult.
The Right People
Finding an event platform is one thing, but finding one that gives you the tools you need to succeed, and a support team to assist you when you need support is another. Virtual and hybrid shows can be complex so make sure your provider doesn’t leave you stranded.
Is support easily accessible?
All platforms should offer a knowledgebase, or a robust help center designed to get you information you need right away. Beyond support articles, platforms that offer direct access to an account manager, someone that is familiar with your event, can be a lifesaver. Decide on the level of support you want or expect from your provider and whether you want to fill out a support ticket or “talk” to a machine or get a live person to help you.
Are they experienced?
It’s important that your platform provider has experience with events similar to yours. Sure, it’s great if they say they’ve executed 10,000 events, but how many of those events were successful and how many resembled the event you need to stage?
What is their level of customer service?
If you’re working with a platform provider that makes you feel like just another number, you might reconsider. Planning events is complex, you need the best possible customer service to make sure your needs are met quickly and effectively.
Are they invested in your success?
The event platform company should feel like your a partner not just another service you’ve purchased. Make sure they are willing to collaborate with you on your ideas and provide feedback based on their experience. Even more important if they give you valuable feedback, listen carefully before you discount it.
Finding an event platform is one thing, but finding one that gives you the tools and processes you need to be successful, along with support when you need it is another. Virtual and hybrid conferences, tradeshows and events can be complex. Make sure your provider doesn’t leave you stranded.