Selecting the right digital platform for a virtual event

The ever-expanding virtual event landscape is one of the few industries enjoying a boom under the pandemic, with dozens of platforms in the space offering distinct services and technologies. 

So how do you make a decision when you are already considered an industry leader in the events space and your reputation is based on creating virtual events which rival your traditional in person programs? 

That is the current challenge for Reed Exhibitions, the international event host and supplier, with over 500 events in 30 countries across 43 industry sectors. In August, Reed Exhibitions will be launching digital events on several different platforms with the aim of identifying the best long-term fit for the brand. 

Those platforms include ExpoPlatform, Jublia, On24, Patron and Sector. 

The performance and audience satisfaction with the platforms will dictate which provider will be the host for Reed Exhibitions’ madconNYC event in early December. madconNYC is an industry conference for all levels of marketers. 

“Over the coming weeks we will watch closely as our sister events launch their digital presence,” said Reed Exhibitions Marketing Director Katie Genovese. “We are down to a very short list of vendors that can meet all of our needs. With the event taking place in December, we have some time to be sure we are selecting the perfect platform to provide our attendees with an engaging and intuitive virtual experience. 

What makes the perfect platform for Reed Exhibitions? 

For Reed Exhibitions, the perfect platform for hosting its virtual events includes: 

  • Ability simultanenously to host several 30 to 45-minute learning sessions;
  • Breakout rooms for one-to-one Ask the Experts sessions;
  • Personalization through recommendations, educational presentations and networking opportunities; and
  • Concierge networking service during the event and up to a week after the event.

“Each of the vendors we are considering includes built-in or interfaced registration to ensure attendees take minimal steps on one platform in order to register and attend,” said Genovese. 

Genovese and her colleagues will be observing Reed Exhibitions’ virtual events such as the JCK Jewelers Showcase, the Crunchy Roll Anime Festival and New York Comic Con to identify best practices and features they would like to adopt long-term moving forward. 

Selecting for sponsors

With 38 fully staffed offices throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle Easts, Asia Pacific and Africa, sponsoring a Reed event can mean different things in different cultures. 

However, the perfect platform provider for Reed Exhibitions will also have built-in features for event sponsorships from San Diego to Singapore to Sydney and everywhere in between. 

“We are inviting vendors to share their goals with us so that we can develop custom sponsorship opportunities,” said Genovese, “such as a virtual lunch sponsor where goodie boxes would be mailed to attendees and they may sponsor the entertainment.” 

Reed Exhibitions is specifically looking for a virtual events platform that can support pre-designed sponsorship opportunities, including:

  • Education sessions;
  • Registration;
  • Email;
  • Social media; and
  • Web/retargeting sponsorships.

“We will make our final decision on our platform by mid-August,” said Genovese. “We are considering our host platform so carefully because it is crucial to us that our virtual events feature the same elements that make our live events so unique from other conferences. Yet we still want to entertain, enlighten and inspire in a digital format.” 

Virtual event tips from the NBA

Reed Exhibitions recently hosted a panel discussion on the good, bad and ugly of virtual experiences that featured Joey Graziano, VP of Events for the National Basketball Association. 

Graziano acknowledged the rush for companies and brands to replace live events with a digital version of the event. 

Tips from Graziano to produce the best virtual events possible:

  • Avoid uninspiring, drawn-out lectures or clunky technological experiences;
  • Consider what virtual experiences you can deliver that provide more value than other ongoing tasks or meetings;
  • Avoid mundane experiences like empty virtual meeting rooms.

What key elements are you looking for in virtual events platform. Let me know:

This story first appeared on Search Engine Land.

About The Author

Rodric J. Bradford is the Editor of MarTech Today and has worked in the marketing technology industry as both a journalist and corporate project manager. Prior to joining MarTech Today Bradford served as Convention and Technology Beat Reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Business Press publication and worked as Technology Reporter for Global Gaming Business, the world’s largest casino publication. In the corporate world Bradford has served as Technology Project Manager for CNA, Cigna, General Dynamics and Philip Morris. Bradford is an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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