Let’s rewind shall we—the year is 2020 and you are absolutely killing that at-home workout game, even if that means the only way anyone will ever actually see your killer progress is during your weekly Zoom happy hours. You can’t really remember the last time you had contact with someone in the outside world besides creepily waving to your mailman through your window.
Flash forward it’s 2021. The vaccine comes to town and things are looking up. You can finally enjoy a nice meal in public with friends and even attend in-person events at half capacity. Event planners are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then along comes Delta, no not the airline—the vile variant.
We hear ya, we’re all tired. Having made the switch from in-person events, to virtual, to hybrid, back to virtual, event planners just can’t seem to catch a break. Alas, here we are, (at least for now) and we’re all just doing our best to adapt to our “new normal”, whatever that might look like.
At this point, it’s only natural that we might be tempted to slap on a zoom link, send out a couple of emails, and call it an event. That being said, hosting your annual flagship conference on Zoom might seem great in theory, but probably won’t translate the same to your attendees.
Repeat after me.
Your streaming provider is not a virtual event tool
Meetings vs. Virtual Events
Let’s go back to the basics for a minute. What exactly is the difference between a meeting and an event?
When people attend a meeting there is usually a singular objective: discuss a topic that may require follow-up actions. The means of facilitating a meeting are simple—set up a Zoom room and send out an invite link. As long as you can see, hear, and communicate with your colleagues—well, that’s “good enough”.
An event, on the other hand, is a gathering of various people, ideas, and methodologies that allow for the growth and development of a product, service, or industry. During an event, there is much more going on than just one singular discussion or presentation.
An event needs interaction, an event needs engagement. So how can the same basic streaming provider you use during weekly team huddles magically transform your meeting into a full-scale event?
Simply put, it can’t.
Virtual events are not, and should not, be treated as just a meeting.
The streaming provider you use is simply the catalyst to connection, a means to get people to see, hear, and communicate with one another, and there are a ton of options out there to choose from.
The attendee experience, whether that attendee is a participant, sponsor, or content provider, should be actively engaged all the way from pre-event to post-event.
Here’s why you need a virtual event tool
Where a streaming provider creates a video connection or function, your virtual event tool handles everything that happens around the video stream—the experience.
Sure, you still need to stream content and all that jazz, but you also need to show off your sponsors and help your attendees feel connected with your event. As the event host, it is also important to understand how attendees interact with your event even after it’s over.
Your virtual event visitors should always have a place to hang out, and that’s where your virtual event hub comes in.
The event hub is the perfect home for all of your virtual events to live. This is the place where your attendees mull around before and after sessions; where they meet each other, sponsors, and speakers, and interact with your content. Your event hub is fully brandable and gives your attendees the ability to view sessions in real-time or on-demand. Simply integrate your streaming provider of choice with your new best bud and create a cohesive and interactive viewing experience for all attendees.
Woah, woah, woah. I know what you’re thinking … where is this so-called magical event hub and how can I get my hands on it? Well, we happen to know just the place.
Truth is, the experience and level of engagement of your attendees, speakers, and sponsors is the difference between a simple meeting and a content-rich event.
You need to focus on ensuring your brand is front and center throughout, from invitations and pre-event marketing campaigns to your day-of-event hub where attendees gather. Virtual sessions should be easy to navigate to and from, with accessibility and clear instructions at the forefront. And the follow-up after your virtual event should be thorough and filled with added value.
In the wise words of Regina George … stop trying to make your streaming provider double as a virtual event tool. It’s never going to happen.
All jokes aside, we’re not here to bash on our streaming providers, in fact, we love our streaming providers. They are a fundamental part of any successful event management platform.
While still incredibly important, your streaming provider should simply serve as the catalyst to the bigger picture, your event. In turn, your virtual event tool should work to provide added value to attendees throughout the entirety of the event lifecycle, creating an engaging, content-rich viewing experience all the way from pre-event to post-event.
So, let’s get to gettin’ and find you a suitable virtual event tool that fits your event tech needs (and hey, we happen to know just the one.)
Psstt … check out our blog highlighting 6 types of Event Management Platforms.