June 13, 2021
How To Choose A Virtual Event Platform: 5 Key Questions To Ask
BY Tom Mahon
June 13th, 2021
What’s the best virtual event platform?
Here are 5 questions to help you find the perfect fit for your next online event.
Virtual events are here to stay. As vaccination rolls out and the pandemic’s grip on the events industry begins to loosen, their physical counterparts will doubtless soon return. But whether in the form of hybrid events or standalone productions, virtual events are set to form a newly significant part of the landscape.
Restrictions on gathering slammed the breaks onto traditional conferences at the start of 2020, but the industry has shown remarkable resilience and ingenuity, pivoting to leverage the full range of technologies we’re lucky enough to have at our disposal.
While some events organisers previously shied away from AR and VR, their use has been accelerated by the pandemic, with some very positive results. The increase in adoption of these event-enhancing technologies has been a real silver lining.
The last year taught us all a lot – and London Filmed is no different. We spent a large portion of the last year thoroughly researching the range of virtual event platforms on the market, building relationships with the better platforms, and in some instances even helping them to develop new features.
Over Christmas, our team conducted research into 90+ virtual event platforms. While the platforms have a number of similarities, they all differ in their specialism and suitability.
Looking to find the best virtual event platform for your own event? Based on our experience and research, here are five questions we think you should be asking.
1. How will pricing for my virtual event be structured?
Just as with the venues we were all so used to working with pre-pandemic, all virtual event platforms have a different structure of pricing. It’s important to ask plenty of questions regarding the way that they price their services in advance of signing on the dotted line, to guard against any unexpected surprises that might impact your budget further down the line, especially as your requirements evolve.
Some of the factors that you’ll want to consider will include the number of attendees you can host for the price agreed, and which specific features of the platform will be available to you at the price point you’re working within.
You’ll also need to make sure that the price you’ve agreed includes the functionality your event will require, for example the need to run concurrent webinars. The length of your event will be another factor that might impact price, so shop around to find the best pricing structure for the way that you’ve built out and balanced your event schedule.
Finally, remember to ask about the levels of customisation you’ll be able to apply to alter the look and feel of your event’s visual presentation. You’ll also want to get total clarity on the amount of technical support you can expect to receive on the day.
2. How can my branding be applied across the virtual event platform?
Branding has always been a core element of great event production; the look and feel of your event is what gives it atmosphere, personality and soul. If branding was important at our in-person events, it’s absolutely essential in the virtual event space.
Faced with the challenge of creating a memorable experience and connection with a remote audience, when it comes to choosing a virtual events platform, top-notch, fully customisable branding capabilities should form a non-negotiable element of your research.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of likely partners, dedicate some time to discuss branding opportunities in all elements of your virtual event, and do some careful comparison. The way that your event is visually presented counts for so much when you’re restricted from some of the theatre and spectacle that a live event can lean on – make sure it forms a large part of your decision-making processes.
3. What kind of support package can I expect, and how will timezones impact this?
Typical when signing up to your platform of choice they will provide a support package or team as part of your agreement. These are not all created equal, and so we strongly recommend a thorough discussion to outline expectations in advance.
Think about what kind of support you might require. This will depend on a range of factors specific to your event, including its complexity and the level of experience (or anxiety!) you might have with regard to the technicalities involved.
The virtual nature of these events means that you could select software created and run by teams anywhere in the world. Keep in mind how this might affect the support you receive, especially with regard to time zone differences. This is an important factor not just for event day, but also in the run-up and planning stages.
If you think you’ll need fast answers and are keen on having help on hand instantly, be sure to work with a team that can provide support within your timezone, or that offers 24/7 live support.
4. What specialist sector experience does the virtual event platform have?
In the days before Coronavirus hit, you probably wouldn’t have booked a large sports stadium for a small poetry reading. The same logic applies to your choice of virtual event platforms. Each platform has been developed and refined over time, adapting its features to benefit the type of customers who most commonly make use of it.
When choosing your own virtual event platform, take a look at the portfolio of clients that they’ve handled in the past, and look for sector or vertical alignment. Not only will their technology be better suited to the specific needs of your event, their support staff and account managers will be more experienced in the requests, problems, and solutions that you might require as a direct result of the industry you’re representing.
It can also pay to look at the format of events they’re used to hosting. Whether you’re looking for a high-energy award ceremony, inspirational AGM or productive board meeting, chances are you’ll get the best results from working with a platform that’s well used to handling events of the same nature.
5. What governing law will my contract be subject to?
When using a virtual event platform it’s important to understand that you are entering into a legal agreement. For some clients this won’t matter at all. For others it won’t matter until something goes wrong!
By entering into an agreement with your virtual event platform of choice, you will be legally bound by the T&C’s of that contract, unless otherwise stated or agreed. Because of this, you need to ensure you know exactly how the contract is governed. That is to say, under which country’s law.
If litigation arises, will legal proceedings be able to be brought in your country’s own courts, or is the platform operating under another governing law, for example, India or the United States?
This is, of course, something we’d hope you’d never have to act upon, but if you’re delivering an event for a client, or working within a larger organisation, thanks to the border-spanning abilities of modern software, it’s well worth digging into this and checking compliance with any internal legal personnel.