As companies continue to understand the significance of virtual events in place of live events, it's increasingly important to adapt your expertise to include virtual event planning.
Be familiar with your industry's options related to virtual event management and be ready to make insightful recommendations for your clients as they navigate this new world. Virtual event ideas found on The Vendry take the guesswork out of designing a memorable event—its resources will set you apart in this ever-changing time.
Familiarize yourself with the basics and show confidence to your clients and colleagues when it's time to pitch a creative solution that meets these unique circumstances' demands.
The most important reason you should be focused on learning how to become a virtual event planner is that before we get back “to normal,” we—our clients, our companies, and customers—are adapting to a new normal. The new normal might be all-virtual for a while.
Then, the event industry itself could transition into a permanently hybrid system with in-person events and virtual event components. No matter what the future brings, making the most of your options will help you adapt and be successful in the event planning industry.
You may find ways to navigate small, in-person events based on local guidelines in your region. But it's simply good business for the immediate future to be knowledgeable about how to plan virtual events, whether they're big or small.
Getting your client face-to-face with their customers doesn't need to require a conference venue anymore—a virtual event is a practical solution to which many have adapted. When you're comfortable navigating virtual workflows, you'll open up a whole new world of possibility for yourself and your clients.
Among the full-time career opportunities stemming from the virtual event world:
Even after the pandemic subsides, you'll be happy to say that you thrived as a virtual event specialist. You'll have experience in everything from livestreaming to virtual fundraising, and managing virtual corporate events, or hosting an intimate virtual dinner party with influencers.
Though we're still unlocking the true potential with what we've learned in 2020, we already know that virtual events aren't going away. There'll be a high likelihood of your clients needing to incorporate virtual experiences into their event marketing strategies forever, whether as a sole means of promotion, or to complement an in-person event.
Being familiar with the options will position you as a leader in the industry. You'll be a knowledgeable event planner that your clients can rely on and would likely refer to others.
When you're looking to pitch and produce virtual events, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Know your Zoom from your WebEx, and be ready to talk about the pros and cons of each available event technology as it pertains to your clients' needs. Use the guide to virtual event platforms to leverage knowledge when it comes to understanding social plug-ins and other engagement tools.
When you understand how to best use each platform, you can better meet your goals and turn a good virtual event into a customer-driven ROI machine.
Familiarity with the technology doesn't end with your choice of software; being able to plan a virtual event requires knowledge of the equipment that actually gets the job done.
A skilled virtual event planner will be able to speak to lighting, videography equipment, physical staging, and the technical bandwidth that comes into play when you need to host dozens—or hundreds, or thousands—of guests.
If your virtual event needs to incorporate live presenters, be certain that you vet those participants. Presenters who are pre-recorded for your virtual event can be edited or given the opportunity to redo their part of the process, but live presenters must have a solid on-camera presence, good technical skills, and understand the goals you've outlined in the planning process.
Big or small, know what it takes to hold your customer's attention, and what aspects of an online event will hold value to them in place of having networking opportunities at an in-person event.
Consider organizing multiple sessions (not just a single webinar), coordinate speakers, social media components, keynote speeches, workshops, discussion areas or chat rooms, booths, and exhibit areas for vendors.
Like any in-person event, basic event planning skills come into play at a virtual event, too. Proactively design an environment that is flexible and creative, one in which participants are equally welcomed to listen and engage.
Understand the client's ROI expectations, and have a plan ahead of time to measure the event performance against their goals. Virtual event platforms make it easy to gather data on attendees (you can even obtain personal information) and track conversions linked to event registration. To be aligned with the platform's capabilities and set expectations on what your client considers to be a successful virtual event equates to success.
Post-event, follow-up with your client to recap the successes, and discuss any challenges. By working together to discuss feedback related to your shared virtual event experience, you can continue to build upon a robust event marketing plan and explore new and exciting opportunities for future events.
When it comes time to have in-person events, being knowledgeable of local, state, and national guidelines is key to your credibility. Understand the rules for masking, gathering sizes, and facility restrictions. Oblige and obtain permits as necessary, and guide your client to success.
Be confident in setting expectations for what a professionally produced virtual event entails. Clients might be under the expectation that a virtual event budget translates to savings (for example, and you might need to explain that their kitchen cabinet backdrop and pendant lighting ambiance probably aren't going to render well on-screen).
Be prepared to outline and help your clients understand why a virtual event has valid costs associated with its production, and help them remember that you're the expert and it's hard to pull off a well-produced virtual event without an experienced and knowledgeable virtual event planner.
Include fees for yourself and your virtual event team, whether it be by hourly rate, priced per project, or a percentage of sales or other measure of success. You might just find that the time you dedicated to coordinating a virtual event is very similar to what you would have charged for an in-person event, so use that as a baseline when you're scoping your fees.
No doubt, just as you would experience if you were coordinating an in-person event, you'll be organizing many virtual meetings with vendors, sponsors, and shareholders to plan the event.
Present other event costs similarly to how you would estimate any in-person event. While the event goals and objectives will determine the budget, itemizing the budget for any client can help them see why there are still production expenses associated, even if they aren't reserving a conference center or coordinating travel for attendees.
When it comes to setting expectations, Aja Bradley-Kemp, founder and chief experience officer of Conversate Collective estimated that eighty percent of what you do for your in-person event will translate to a virtual event environment, as she explained in our article, "How to Budget for a Virtual Event."
Every virtual event starts with a plan. Here's a simple guide:
During the COVID-19 era, every event planner should be familiarizing themselves with virtual opportunities, changes in technology, and new methods of organizing virtual events. They may even find that networking opportunities for event planners can offer a wealth of shared knowledge on this evolving industry. Those with virtual event planning experience might have a leg up on the competition when searching job postings.
For clients and event planners alike, one of the biggest opportunities to be knowledgeable and engaged with the virtual event industry is to dramatically expand your reach and work outside of your traditional geography.
Reach new clients, reach new customers, and find new ways to obtain measurable business growth and success during the pandemic.
Familiarity with virtual events also means that when things go back to "normal," you'll still be equipped with the know-how to incorporate virtual elements seamlessly into your traditional event plans.
Consider the opportunity you'll have when you understand how you can marry both virtual and in-person experiences as hybrid events to support your client's ROI.