Bespoke venue or Premier Inn: understanding the value of event technology
Virtual events have provided a lifeline for thousands of companies during the pandemic, allowing them to stay connected to their audiences and keep vital sales and marketing efforts going. But at the same time, most organisations have struggled to deliver a positive, consistent audience experience due to connectivity issues, problems with event formats, or difficulties encouraging participation, averting desk-based distractions and preventing Zoom fatigue.
The underlying issue is that these events have largely been built upon tech platforms that were designed for a totally different purpose. Zoom, Teams, Google Hangouts and the like are all, first and foremost, video conferencing platforms, not events platforms.
And with events spending and ROI likely to be subject to greater scrutiny in the post-COVID corporate world, more organisations are now examining the need to upgrade to best-of-breed events technology if they’re to achieve their 2021 events programme goals.
So let’s take a look at some of the fundamental differences between video conferencing platforms and purpose-built event technology.
A venue to be proud of
Firstly, video conferencing providers offer standard online ‘spaces’. And they do it very well - it’s the virtual equivalent of the meeting room you’d expect to find in a co-working space or a modestly priced hotel. This is perfect for most day-to-day business meetings, and can generally support limited scope webinars. But you wouldn’t hold a major customer event at a Premier Inn, would you?
Let’s start by considering branding and the event visuals. You can’t own the look and feel of an event on the typical video conferencing platform. You can’t brand it or create a customised lobby or give it the same high quality production values that you would if you booked out Marriott Times Square or Hilton Metropole London. Company events planners need technology with the power to wow - and that’s what some event tech providers are now bringing to the table.
An even bigger challenge is that of audience engagement, and this is where event tech comes into its own. These platforms offer the tools you need to create a more immersive experience, breaking with the underwhelming, awkward process of screen sharing and allowing you to build engagement - from tests and quizzes to polls, games and social integration - directly into presentations.
The upshot of all of the above is that while yes, it’s technically possible to create and run an event using a video conferencing tool, it’s incredibly difficult to create an event that matters - an engaging and memorable experience that your audience won’t forget.
An integrated experience - for you and your attendees
You should also think about the other functions you need to create a seamless and memorable event experience. From registration and CRM integration to real-time translation of the content your speakers are delivering, you’re far more likely to find this type of feature with a dedicated event tech platform than with the tool you’re using to carry out your weekly team catch-ups.
Protecting attendee data and avoiding mishaps
In the early months of the pandemic there were huge numbers of stories about Zoom-bombing (unauthorised meeting attendees) and user data being shared far more widely than intended via these platforms.
While many video conferencing providers have since made investments in additional security measures, they don’t offer the cast-iron security or GDPR compliance guarantee that some of the ISO27001 certified event tech platforms provide.
Not only that, but the media is still awash with stories about video conferencing fails – from politicians accidentally showering on camera to lawyers turning themselves into on-screen cats. Hilarious stuff, but again, not necessarily what you want on display at your showcase corporate events.
Empowering better events
Your events should not be dictated by your technology but enabled and empowered by it. And right now we need to raise the bar for events because our attendees have more choice over where they invest their time and attention.
We need to use better technology that’s capable of delivering unique event experiences that strengthen relationships, boost brand awareness and create renewed affinity with customers, partners, investors and employees. That means embracing bespoke, feature-rich event technology, and restoring Zoom and its ilk to the domain of team meetings and informal catch-ups, where they belong.