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How to Pivot Back to Virtual: Tips from an Event Tech Provider

MeetingPlay

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Taking a live event virtual isn’t as daunting as it sounds – if you have the correct protocols and event tech partner in place! We’ve all been experiencing the evolution of the event world the past year and, now more than ever, need to know the best tips and tricks for when the tides change.

From timeframe to content to whether changing the medium will affect overall goals for the event, here are some of the ways your event tech provider should be helping you if you need to pivot.

Clients who are pivoting to a virtual environment fall into one of three “buckets”:

  1. You already work with an event tech provider for your onsite tech
  2. You already work with an event tech provider and have a virtual component for your onsite tech (you’re already creating a hybrid environment)
  3. You do not work with an event tech provider for your onsite tech and need to pivot fully virtual

 

How long will it take to pivot to virtual?

Long story short: Planning for virtual ahead of time will save you a headache!

If you haven’t created a hybrid environment (AKA not using a virtual platform) your lead time on the platform will be longer and your event will likely be using a less in-depth platform. There’s nothing wrong with a basic virtual platform, especially if it means you don’t have to completely cancel your event, but your event tech provider should always be upfront and clear about what they can and cannot accomplish.

“It's in their best interest that event planners consider hybrid as a part of their event plans for the next two to three years.” - Brianna, MeetingPlay

The bucket you, as an event professional, want to fall into is the 2nd one – you’re working with an event tech provider for both onsite and virtual needs: you’ve created a hybrid environment. We can’t speak for all providers, but at MeetingPlay, if you’ve already created a virtual environment and you need to pivot fully virtual, it can be done easily with the proper lead time. This, again, depends on your scope and what has already been planned for and built out into your virtual platform.

Unfortunately, if you don’t work with an event tech provider for your onsite event, it’s much harder and you run into more issues than we can count. Reaching out to a virtual event platform provider when your event is only a few days out, the likelihood of your event going off without a hitch and meeting your goals and deadlines is slim to none. If you find a virtual platform provider within twelve weeks of your pivot, you’re in much better shape!

Pro Tip: If you plan a hybrid event upfront and use an event tech provider for both onsite and virtual components, pivoting to fully virtual will not be a problem.

 

What level of virtual platform should you be using?

Going back to our buckets: if you’re already using a virtual platform, pivoting is easy. Adding in gamification and more in-depth break-out sessions would prove to be more difficult, but with proper lead time, this can likely be discussed and implemented!

For example: if you only have 250 virtual registrants and a simple virtual platform, as well as 1,000 registrants attending onsite, shifting your event over to a complex virtual platform would be more time-consuming. However, MeetingPlay’s developers can easily increase the platform capacity accordingly and run load testing to ensure that all attendees can be accommodated.  This is helpful for a pivot to fully virtual because we know ahead of time that the virtual platform would be able to accommodate the 1,000 onsite attendees switching to virtual.

Pro Tip: Lead time is important and it’s highly recommended that in the changing landscape of events, hybrid is already being considered. With a hybrid platform that mirrors the onsite event, the pivot to virtual is seamless, effective, and your attendees will have a great experience, every time.

 

Will the audience convert easily to the virtual platform?

Yes! However, communication will be key throughout the entire pivoting process. Proper messaging explaining why the event will be moving to virtual – including clarity that the event is not canceled, simply moved to a different medium – and how this virtual event will still offer attendees the same value is important.

For example: Attendees sign up for in-person events to network and chat with like-minded professionals about sessions. Having a platform that offers a product like Hallway Chatter, powered by MeetingPlay, provides value to your attendees who wanted that live experience. Now they have it, virtually.

Pro Tip: Creating a website for registrations, frequently asked questions, safety protocols, and messaging will build trust with your attendees. Keeping them informed throughout the process is pivotal to having a successful event, and is even more important in the case of re-structuring an onsite event to fully virtual.

 

What type of broadcasting works for your speakers? Should a live event continue to have live speakers during a pivot to virtual?

There are a number of factors to consider - what works best for you and the speakers, what your production company recommends or what broadcasting options your event tech provider has, and what your time frame is.
 
If you need to pivot from onsite to virtual with only a three-week lead time, this might not be enough time for your speakers to pre-record their sessions properly. Your speakers may choose to continue the “live” environment and broadcast live to the audience through the virtual platform, or they could choose simu-live, or to pre-record entirely, if they have the time.
 

Pro Tip: Give your speakers ample time to determine which form of broadcasting they’d prefer: live, pre-recorded, or simu-live. There is always a difference between twelve weeks, six weeks, and three weeks. Speak with your event tech provider to know their broadcast capabilities, as well.

 

Does pivoting ruin the goals of your original event?

Not at all! In fact, in speaking with our clients, our account managers have found that organizations love the virtual environment due to the ability to reach a larger pool of prospective attendees. The connections, gamification, networking options, Q&A features – they’re enjoyed the same, but from the comfort of their own home. Registrants have gone from 1,000 onsite attendees to over 10,000 attendees because of virtual – needless to say, the options are endless.

As always, it’s important to discuss your goals and vision for the hybrid and/or virtual event with your event tech provider. At MeetingPlay, our account managers and developers love creating environments that you and your attendees will keep talking about even after the last session ends.

Pro Tip: Having clear goals for your onsite event can be transferred seamlessly to virtual, and they can even be exceeded with the proper team and tech provider! Pivoting to virtual shouldn’t be a scary thing – your event ROI is top of mind with a partner like MeetingPlay.

 

What happens if you need to cancel completely?

In your best interest, you should always have a virtual backup plan. Through virtual platforms, like MeetingPlay, your online space holds on-demand content for 30 days post-launch. As we mentioned before, event planners should be thinking of keeping virtual in their event plans for the next two to three years. In the event you need to completely cancel your event, your virtual platform will still be online to provide value for your attendees.

Pro Tip: Adapt to the fact that virtual isn’t going away any time soon and create events that include virtual, no matter what. Even a simplistic virtual event platform will save you along the way.

Your live event can pivot to virtual, so there’s no need to panic! What will assist your onsite event in the pivoting process comes down to lead time, your event tech provider, and whether you’ve already built out the virtual aspect of the event. Say hello to hybrid; embrace both the onsite and digital aspects, and watch your event thrive – no matter what the world looks like. Book a demo now to speak with one of our trusted account managers who would love to help you through the planning process.

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