With the influx of virtual event popularity comes a growing industry of virtual event platform solutions. And not all hosting solutions are created equal. So, how can you, as a New York event planner, know which platform to choose? Are some more ideal for certain types of online events than others? What questions should you be asking before you make a decision? Here’s the roadmap you’ve been waiting to see. Consider these suggestions and best practices to know you’re choosing the right virtual event platform every time.
The All-In-One Platforms Are Great
When you’re hosting and managing any virtual event, you’ll want to look for a platform that presents an all-in-one approach, if possible. When you have to jump around to various digital tools, it can present opportunities for event hiccups, never mind the hassle of trying to manage multiple tools. If there is an option that offers a centralized menu of tools in one place, it will likely be a more seamless event hosting experience.
Know What Features You Need to Have
You can’t very well identify the all-in-one virtual event platform without first prioritizing the tools and features your event needs. Depending on the theme or client requests, you might be specifically looking for these online and virtual event capabilities in a software platform:
- Online Event Registration
- Q&A Platforms and Support
- Chatbot Availability
- Mid and Post-Event Polling
- Digital Breakout Spaces
- Online Prizes or Award
Knowing what tools you need will help you sort through the various virtual event platforms to find those that present the most all-in-one solutions.
Will the Platform Integrate with Tools You Already Use?
Be mindful of the digital tools you’ll need to use during the virtual event that may not be in-house options from a platform. Outside tools you’ll use to manage workflows and chaperone the event will need to be compatible with whatever virtual event platform you choose. Some basic examples might include payment channels like Stripe or PayPal integration. More complex programs, including any your clients might be using during the event, will also need to integrate well with the platform. If you’re not sure, ask the platform provider to demonstrate, so you can know exactly what to expect on event day.
Look for Event Tech That Allows Virtual Networking
Your virtual event will only be as engaging and successful as the attendee experience. And networking, even in a digital way, needs to be available. Look for hosting platforms that offer a wide variety of methods for guest interaction so you can craft the most engaging experience. Look specifically for “virtual networking options” before making your final platform decision. You don’t want your online guests to feel isolated in any way, especially if the theme calls for collaboration and learning.
What Additional Branding Options Are Available?
There’s no shame in looking for perks for your event planning business. Look for virtual platforms that have customization options where you can brand the digital assets. You can find some that allow you to get creative about changing elements of the online event, color schemes, incorporating your brand messaging, and more. Keep those aspects in line with your event planning business brand and reinforce your brand identity with everyone who attends. Keep in mind, the best virtual event platforms will offer such self-branding options. So, if there aren’t tools to customize, it’s probably best to keep searching.
What Kind of Data Can You Assemble from Online Guests?
Every opportunity you have to host a virtual event presents another opportunity for you to learn and improve. But you can’t evaluate the event without the data and analytics. Before you choose your virtual event platform, explore what data and metrics will be collected and available to you. Some valuable insights and tracking might include:
- How many attendees disconnected, and when?
- How many attendees joined using mobile devices versus computers?
- How many attendees participated in polls or surveys?
- How many attendees engaged in conversations?
- How many click-throughs did you get with various CTAs?
Ask for a Demonstration to Verify User Experience
The best virtual event platforms that bring all the bells and whistles won’t make for a great online event alone. You’ll need to also consider your attendee audience and predict their experience with the platform. The moment they connect, everything matters. And if they get stuck, can’t navigate, or experience issues with the tools you’re hoping they’ll use, it won’t be a pleasant user experience. Know your audience and sample demonstrations of the virtual platform before you decide. If there are any features or aspects of the platform that seem particularly changeling for you, they’ll be equally challenging to your guests, too.
Virtual Event Platforms to Explore
Armed with all the right questions to ask and prioritized features to look for, you’re empowered to begin vetting and browsing the available platforms out there. This list of platforms is by no means exhaustive, and new virtual event solutions seem to come on stage almost daily. But you can begin with some of these, as they’re the most popular among event planners, to help begin your search for the best-fit platform.
- BigMarker - $79/month entry-level package
- vFairs – Pricing upon request
- Tame – Pricing upon request
- Hopin – Free trial, $99/month entry-level package
- Weve - $299 per room, guest number-based
- GoToWebinar - $59/month entry-level package
- ClickMeeting – Free trial, $25/month for Live Package
- Hublio – Pricing upon request
- Livestorm – Free plans available or $99/month
Again, you'll want to do your research, including following up on reviews, before choosing a virtual event platform. Talk with your clients to see if they’ve had great or poor experiences, as well. Be diligent and thorough about the questions you ask, and take advantage of free trials when they’re available.
Tap into these suggestions the next time you have to select a virtual event platform. And share your experiences with colleagues when you attend The Event Planner Expo 2022! If you’re ready to showcase your event planning business as a virtual event master, you can learn more about becoming an Expo sponsor or exhibitor, too!