From the moment that you first reach out to a platform’s sales representatives, you’re working toward the success of your virtual event. Every inquiry made in these initial conversations can help determine whether or not a platform is a good fit for you, and whether or not the experience it offers aligns with your goals. While this research may take some time, it’s important to do your due diligence upfront. Asking the right questions will help lead you to the right platform and ensure that you’re well prepared for every phase of production.
With over a decade of event experience, our team knows that event planners have a lot on their plates. And while some are versed in virtual experiences, others are relatively new to the format. That’s why posing the right questions to sales and implementation teams is particularly important. From pre-production to day-of logistics, and post-event services, there’s a lot of ground to cover in your consultation, including discussing technical capabilities and access to live support. But having this dialogue early on will also give the sales team a clear vision of everything you hope to achieve.
To help steer you in the right direction, our internal team weighed in on the ten questions they find most essential to your virtual event’s success. Spanning moments in all phases of production, these questions can serve as a quick checklist for your next consultation. Before you reach out, be sure to align with your company on the aims of your event. By defining your goals, establishing a projected ROI, prioritizing features and capabilities, and completing your agenda in full, you’ll be able to lead the most informed dialogue possible. “Start with the end in mind,” says Phoenix Ann Porcelli, Senior Director, Enterprise Strategy at Convene. Approaching sales teams with an outlined agenda and clear objective for your event will help them tailor the consultation to fit your needs and ensure that the experience they deliver aligns with your vision.
Whether you’re planning your first virtual event or your one-hundredth, the questions below will help you hone in on the most important elements of your production, and ultimately, enhance your event.
1. What features does your platform include?
From networking to broadcasting and engagement, platforms come equipped with an array of tools to boost your attendee’s experience. When you’re speaking to sales teams, it’s important to inquire about their platform’s special features and learn what sets their technology apart from others. “The top questions we receive are around functionality and confirming that our platform supports the functionality a client is looking for,” shares Porcelli.
But it’s also important to keep the goals of your event in focus. “Write down three things that are most important to you when it comes to features. When you participate in a demo, every platform will show you every single feature,” says Maggie Davis, Senior Director of Implementation at Convene. “It’s like going to a showroom: you’re going to see the most tricked-out version of the car. That can cause a lot of fatigue.”
It’s important to remember that the number of special features doesn’t equal the most seamless—or even most elevated—event experience. “Planners should figure out what they think the most important part of their event is. Is it virtual interaction between attendees? Or a stable live event stream (because a really important speaker will be speaking for an hour)? Or getting collateral to attendees after the event?” It’s much easier to prioritize features when you have goals to align them with.
2. Does your platform include registration features?
Event management features deserve their own question because they’ll make your job much easier. One thing to discuss in particular: registration. When you’re chatting with the platform’s reps, be sure to ask whether or not their platform includes a registration tool or integrations. This will help make your RSVP process—and ultimately your CRM—as seamless as possible.
If the platform confirms that their capabilities include registration, be sure to inquire further to ensure that their offering encompasses everything you need.If it doesn’t, you’ll want to find a backup plan, and potentially weigh whether or not the extra time and resources required could be better spent on another, all-inclusive platform.
3. Can I spotlight sponsors on your platform?
It’s essential to be able to highlight your sponsors, particularly for large productions with multiple stakeholders. Sponsor features can help drive brand awareness, and as many include contact information, can even yield direct leads. For that reason, they serve as a considerable draw for organizations interested in sponsoring your event. Plus, if you’re able to prove previous returns on a sponsor’s investment—attributed by these sponsor features—you’ll be able to acquire more sponsors, and hopefully bigger investments, in the future.
4. What are the opportunities for branding or customization?
Adding your company’s logo and graphics to your event landing page can give it that extra ounce of polish attendees love, while bringing your brand to life. When consulting with sales teams, you should ask about any opportunities for branding or customization.
5. Can I upload and schedule pre-recorded content to appear during my event?
There are many advantages to adding pre-recorded content to your event. For example, if you’re featuring many high-profile speakers, it’s likely that you won’t be able to get them in the same room—even if it’s virtual—at the same time. Speak with your platform’s reps about the possibility of uploading and scheduling pre-recording content in your event’s feed, and you’ll open up a host of new possibilities for your programming.
6. How will attendees access the event day-of?
Access is the #1 question reps receive during a platform demonstration, and for good reason. Planners want to know “what the attendee experience will be from start to finish,” says Caroline Foley, Director of Sales at Convene. Some platforms require downloading an app or widget—which creates an additional hurdle for viewers— while others offer a simple URL. If your goal is to make your attendee’s experience as seamless as possible, it’s important to ask each platform about their mode of access. And while you’re on this topic, you should also inquire about how presenters access the platform, particularly if your event will have several speakers joining in at once.
7. How is personal information processed?
Registering and attending an event requires inputting several forms of personal information. When weighing platforms, be sure to ask how personal information is processed, specifically how it is recorded and stored. If your organization deals in financial services or handles other sensitive information, their answer will be highly important.
8. What happens after my event is over?
“Post-event isn’t frequently asked about during the demo, but it should also be discussed,” adds Porcelli. That means inquiring about everything from the deliverables included (like analytics and video recordings) to whether or not attendees will be able to access content and networking features after the event wraps (and if so, for how long). It’s great to remember that the lifespan of your event doesn’t have to end when the presentation concludes. Ultimately, the more insight you get on your platform’s post-event offering, the more you’ll be able to offer your audience afterward.
9. What support is offered (before, during, and after the event) and what am I responsible for (before, during, and after the event)?
It’s imperative to ask the platform’s reps about the support they offer—during planning, on the day of your event, and after—and what is expected of you at every stage, too. What assets are you responsible for providing? What tasks will their team take on? The more informed you are about the roles and responsibilities for your production, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter along the way.
This conversation should cover things like assistance building an event microsite, hosting pre-event rehearsals and tech checks, as well as the logistical and technical support offered throughout your event day. Though a platform may boast best-in-class tools, if you encounter a technical glitch during your event you could be left to sort it out on your own without access to expert support. It’s important to remember that inquiring about human support for your production is really another way of asking: what happens if something goes wrong? Without any support, you’ll have to answer that question the hard way.
You should also ask about how the platform’s team members collaborate. For example, are you synched up with a dedicated production team that sits collectively in a Control Room while managing your event? Or are these team members dispersed in different locations? What you’re trying to discover is not only what support is offered—and to what extent you’re supported—but also how seamless your experience will be working with their team.
Regardless of how many flashy features a platform may include, “human support is always going to be what drives people to the right platform,” Foley says. “Planners really look to my team for guidance and expertise.”
10. What analytics does your platform include?
Just because your event is happening virtually doesn’t mean you won’t invest a lot into bringing it to life. From financial investments to time and labor, a lot of effort goes into each production. But if your platform can provide post-event analytics, you’ll be able to weigh those investments against your success. Plus, these analytics can also help refine your virtual event strategy going forward. For example, if certain audience engagement tools performed better than others, you can pivot your next agenda accordingly.
Many platforms are able to provide these analytics in post-event data packets that break down things like attendance and engagement in one simple document. This analysis can be shared with key stakeholders and can be kept on file for future planning.
At Convene, we know that successful events begin with thorough planning—and these essential questions are a crucial first step in that process. Finding the right platform and team to support your vision begins with asking the right questions and weighing the answers you receive accordingly. Though you’ll receive an influx of information, if you stay focused on your objective for the event, you’ll be able to guide toward those goals.
Want to elevate your next event? Connect with our team today to see if Convene Virtual Meetings fits the needs of your upcoming production.