Nth Degree Trade Show and Event Marketing Blog

10 Technical Considerations for Virtual Events

Posted by Hayley Lam, Technical Implementation Specialist on Jun 24, 2020 1:36:45 PM

Virtual events are currently becoming the way of the world during the challenging times of COVID-19. The information overload created by the quick shift to virtual can make the process challenging. How do you find the right provider to fit your needs and deliver a seamless experience?

Here are 10 technical considerations that will help you cut through the information clutter and help you understand the technical components of delivering a virtual event:

  1. Dive deep into the business value propositions and/or requirements before heading into supplier demos: With the current circumstances, event managers are getting daily sales pitches from prospective partners and technology platforms. It doesn’t make sense to head into technology platform demos without having a clear idea of what you want your event to accomplish and what you want it to look like.

    Heading into those conversations with some preliminary event requirements will help you navigate the conversation and drill down to the minimum viable product (MVP) you need to satisfy your requirements. This approach will ensure you won’t get distracted by other features that a technology platform provides that you don't need to accomplish your event goals.

  2. Virtual platform providers are high in demand: As demand is increasing for virtual platforms, these virtual technology providers are overwhelmed with requests for both demos and implementation services. We suggest building a relationship with your prospective virtual platform providers now. 

    When participating in demo calls, be sure to ask them what their current capacity looks like to best understand whether or not they will be able to confidently support your event. As capacity issues arise, you'll want to plan accordingly to ensure your virtual provider can meet your event timeline.

  3. White-label provider considerations: What we've seen in the marketplace is that companies are currently white-labeling different technologies and solutions to deliver a virtual event. It’s important in the process of evaluation to categorize the prospective vendors into “native solutions” versus “white-label solutions” and to do a comparison chart of features and benefits to help in your decision-making process. There are time and cost implications with custom buildouts and there could be technical issues if the provider isn’t fluent in the partner software.

  1. Established technology partnerships matter: In a world where everyone is currently trying to pivot to virtual, it’s important to understand what your event management platform provider and your virtual platform provider can and can’t do.

    While many providers are willing to integrate your event management platform, it does mean a custom net-new integration. 

How this will impact your event?

      • There may be more friction in the implementation process to help the new virtual platform provider to understand the APIs.

      • You will need to plan buffering time accordingly to ensure the integrations are working as expected as the new solution is developed.

      • Detailed quality assurance testing will be needed to ensure that each phase, from login to session data, is clear and user-friendly for the attendee.

      • You will need to invest the time to ensure everyone understands how the data will be flowing between the different platforms so no areas get missed, especially with your first virtual event.

  1. Privacy & Security: As a part of your discovery process, you’ll need to include privacy and security as a point of discussion. It’s important to understand how your virtual platforms will be housing the data, and how might they impact your current policies including Terms of Use, Privacy, Data, and Code of Conduct.

    Your IT security team should have a standard list of questionnaires that will need to be evaluated when onboarding new vendors. For example, they will want to know how long the platform will hold attendee-specific data. The earlier you get this out to the platform providers and begin the security process, the easier it will be to satisfy the necessary security requirements.

  2. Don’t try to force-fit a solution: There are many different platforms available; you don’t need to force a solution that doesn’t have what you need. Many solutions integrate into others, so if a single provider does not provide everything your event needs, you can find the missing piece and integrate it.

    For example, some of the existing virtual providers may not supply the robust Q&A, polling, or attendee networking features needed. In those cases, you can turn to providers like:

  • do

  • Braindate

  • io

  • Remo

  • Jublia

  • JiffleNow 

  1. Ensure your solution requires one sign-on credential: If you’re looking to integrate multiple platforms, you must ensure that the combined solution only requires one set of sign-on credentials for your audience. There is nothing more confusing for attendees than to have to utilize multiple credentials for a single event. Ensure your platform providers can provide SSO (single sign-on) from one platform to another, and even better if you can move between platforms without having to log in again.

  2. Ask the right questions for all elements of your program: During the vendor evaluation process, ask questions about:

    • Branding: Is your virtual platform able to brand to the specifications your event requires? What branding opportunities do you provide?

    • Registration: Is your virtual platform able to handle multiple registration paths/attendee types or just one? Can you handle payment processing?

    • Speaker Management: Does your virtual platform have a speaker resource center? Can you support live conversations between speakers and attendees? How do you guide speakers to record sessions and troubleshoot technical issues?

    • Content Management: Does your virtual platform provide schedule and content management? Can you provide gated access to specific sessions? Do you offer polling, Q&A, and fireside chat functionality? Can you handle live stream, simulive, and pre-recorded events?

    • Exhibitor Management: How do you curate exhibitor resources and information? Do you have virtual expo functionality? Can you support chat and/or video call functionality and demos between attendee-to-exhibitor? How do you provide lead generation data from the expo component?

    • Multilingual capabilities: Does your platform have the ability to deliver local languages? What levels of translations can you support?

    • Attendee Networking: Does your virtual platform handle 1:1 Meetings? Do you have chat functionality for both group and individual calls?

    • Marketing: Does your virtual platform integrate with other marketing or lead-generation tools like Salesforce, Hubspot, Marketo, etc? How does this work?

    • Gamification: Do you have gamification or trivia opportunities for attendees to engage with? Do you have a point system or a leaderboard?

    • Support: What support do you provide to deliver the event? Explain your “help desk” process to help attendees resolve technical issues.

  3. Centralize your data: While a virtual event may be a one-off delivery for 2020 given the circumstances, you shouldn't forget the big picture of your data. Your data is critical to understanding your audience, so you’ll want to understand where your data will be stored and for how long.

    Things to consider:

  • If you're looking at integrating your event management platform with your virtual event platform, discuss the integration points of data, and understand where each data point will be housed in which platform. If you can have the virtual event platform sync data back to your event management platform, then you'll have a comprehensive picture of your event's narrative over the years.

  • If you’re looking to do a content 365 approach, discuss whether your virtual event platform provides exports of videos so you can host them on your site(s) for easy access.

  • If you are planning to do your virtual event as a one-off, discuss how you might migrate that data over to your existing platforms.

  1. 2021 and beyond: As you are evaluating virtual event providers, you may want to keep in mind that this may not be a single virtual event delivery. Looking ahead to 2021, you will probably need to consider a hybrid event model. What will be the best platform to combine the physical and virtual environments for those attendees who may not be able to travel? How might your hybrid event differ from a fully virtual event? How can these run concurrently?

Technical due diligence is critical when selecting a virtual event platform. Taking the time to discover, research, and select the right vendor for your technology stack will pay off in the form of seamless virtual and hybrid event programs.