If you have years of experience in the event management industry as we do, you know how complicated it can be. Throughout the challenges of COVID-19, you have been surviving with virtual events. Now you can foresee and celebrate the day when live events will come roaring back. But will they come back entirely in person? […]
It’s no secret that digital (formally virtual) events have recently taken over from many traditional in-person events. Hosting a successful virtual event takes a different kind of planning. One question on the top of the event manager’s mind is, “How can I keep my virtual attendees engaged?”
It’s certainly more manageable when you have a large group of people in the same place. Networking happens organically. Plus, people are drawn to music or laughter and find entertainment opportunities easily.
If you want to sponsor a successful virtual event, increasing engagement is a must. Use these nine tips to ensure that your virtual event is the one people will remember.
Conduct a Pre-Event Poll
You can start getting attendees involved even before your event formally starts. Conduct a pre-event poll to understand how they heard about the event. Also, be sure to include some questions that will help you create an even better experience for attendees. You may find unique digital event ideas to address their feedback. You can ask things such as:
- Which social platforms do you use most often? Your analytics will let you know where to promote your event.
- How interested are you in . . .? Ask the attendees to rank different factors such as the topics covered in the sessions, networking, and talking to vendors. You could gauge their interest in the issues you’re discussing to give you some insight into which sessions might have the high numbers of attendees.
- How easy was it to access information about the event? If there is an opportunity to respond to this type of feedback before the event, it can be constructive. Easy access to events and information is crucial because people don’t want to spend personal time digging through useless information. The easier the accessibility, the happier the attendee.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to respond to the feedback you receive.
Encourage Presenters to Prepare for the Virtual Sessions
Speakers accustomed to presenting to a room full of people need to change their presentation approach to keep attendees at a digital event engaged. Here are some of the issues you’ll want them to consider:
- Lighting and camera placement. The presenter’s face should be well lit to avoid having them look like the allusion of an apparition. A camera set at eye level will help the audience make virtual eye contact.
- Background. Minimize background distractions to help the virtual audience maintain focus on the presenter.
- Body language. It’s challenging to pay attention to a talking head. While the camera should be at eye level, an angle that lets the presenter use their hands, as this audience will find this to be a more natural and inviting look.
- Use visuals to good effect. Encourage presenters not to read from a set of slides but encourage them to use graphics to expand or go more in-depth on their topic.
- Look at the camera, not the monitor. Eye contact is still critical, even in a virtual setting. Presenters shouldn’t look at their monitor but focus on their camera.
Consider Shortening Session Length
It’s far more challenging to hold the audience’s attention when they aren’t seeing the presenter in person. The hour-long presentation that makes sense in a face-to-face event may seem unusually long for a virtual attendee. Besides that, the presenter must maintain a good level of enthusiasm that wanes without in-person feedback. Consider reducing the length of the sessions at your event by 15 to 30 minutes. Keeping a session short is always better than losing attendees who will leave if it goes too long. And plan to include pauses in the session to make sure the audience is engaged and understands the material.
Encourage Questions Throughout Sessions
Some presenters traditionally ask their audience to hold their questions until the end of the formal presentation. Waiting until the end of the session can have some merit, but it’s easier for the attendees to lose concentration in a virtual environment. Setting up a moderated chat other than the speaker can keep the audience more motivated. The moderator can ask the presenter questions if they come in a natural place in the presentation. For example, if a question comes in after the presenter has changed topics, the moderator can hold the question until the end.
Schedule Live Q&As
Nothing will keep your attendees engaged more than the chance to participate and get their questions answered. Some presenters like to have a live Q&A session at the end of their presentations. But, sometimes, attendees don’t have questions until they’ve had a chance to think about what they’ve heard. It may not be reasonable to have a separate Q&A for every session, but scheduling one on a broader topic that covers several sessions is an excellent way to let people participate.
Consider Priming and Synthesis Sessions
Providing context for event attendees is always a good idea. But, again, the concept of priming and synthesis sessions can help. At the start of each day, schedule a short session hosted by a knowledgeable organizer or expert to point out the relationship between the day’s sessions and the event’s theme. Next, schedule a challenge session where you encourage attendees to share their experiences and how they plan to take action based on the day’s information.
Use Mobile Apps
Attendees aren’t always sitting in front of a computer; they’re on their cell phones or tablets. Creating a mobile app for attendees will keep them involved because they can view interactive floor plans, search for exhibitors, take notes, participate in games, and more.
Take Advantage of Chat Rooms
Chat rooms promote engagement. You can set up chat rooms on specific hot topics while having a moderator or subject matter expert manage the interaction. You can also use chat rooms to help vendors talk in more depth to interested prospects.
Use a Tool that Drives Engagement at Virtual Events
An all-inclusive virtual event management tool like VEM™ from eShow will let you manage the entire event experience. It’s a tool that drives engagement by offering virtual exhibits, video chats, interactive polls, chat tools that promote two-way communication among attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors, and much more.
How Can You Increase Engagement at Virtual Events?
It is possible to promote engagement at a virtual event! As technology evolves to adapt to these new landscapes, it is becoming easier to achieve your goal for any virtual event. eShow applies its 25 years of collective experience in the event industry to continuously developed professional solutions and web-based tools to help you manage any size event from start to finish.
eShow’s Virtual Event Management platform gives you the tools you need to increase engagement and to manage your virtual event in one place, regardless of its size.
Selling more sponsorships for an event can seem like a daunting task. Suppose you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to manage everything effectively and efficiently. In that case, the following guide can teach you how to find unique ways to reach your audience and improve the guest experience at your event. It can also teach you how to measure success the right way, select the right key performance indicators (KPI) and build better sponsor relationships.
But before you do any of that, you’ll need to figure out the objective of each sponsor so that you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to approach them (change, need a diff. word) and, in turn, increasing your business chances of success.
Figure Out the Objective Before You Start Selling
Before you start selling any sponsorships for the event in question, it helps to know the sponsor’s objective. Don’t just send over the standard media kit or price list. Instead, take the alternative route and ask your sponsors,
“What’s your goal for the event?”
Listen to them carefully so that you can determine their main hopes and goals. Then try your best to emulate that into your event. They are your audience, and by understanding their needs, you can cater specifically to them with a well-formulated plan, executed efficiently.
Figure Out Which Companies to Reach Out to
You’ll likely have many options when it comes to companies that might be able to sponsor your event, but that doesn’t mean every company would be a great sponsor. Look for sponsors whose audience matches yours in both demographics and interests to narrow it down a little.
It would help if you also made sure that the companies you’re thinking of reaching out to understand the value of event marketing. You don’t want to have to try too hard to convince companies that this would be a good idea for both of you—you want companies that can already see the inherent value.
Finally, you’ll also want sponsors who will focus on the ROI of the event. You don’t wish for vanity speakers. You want the sponsors who are looking to get a little more out of the partnership. One’s best bet? Focus on companies that are looking for not only a collaboration but also understand that this is not a one-way street. Demonstrate your value and eagerness to gain their trust while also building a new relationship and possible sponsorship.
Find Unique Ways to Reach Your Audience and Improve the Guest ExperienceImproving the guest experience means finding ways to help the sponsors reach their audience while keeping guests thoroughly entertained.
You might try offering something guests could take home to their families or planning a fun activity during the event.
Some ideas you could use to spice up your event and get people involved (and the sponsors more exposure) include the following:
- Silent auctions
- Sponsored bar
- A red carpet
- Casino night
- Carnival theme
- Charity photo booth
- Fashion show
- Roaming competitions
- Mindfulness workshops
- Dessert signage
- Segmented escape rooms
You can also come up with some of your ideas. Remember always to utilize ideas that make the most sense for the atmosphere you are trying to foster and make the most sense for the sponsors.
Measure Success the Right Way
If you want to determine how successful your event was, you’ll need to know how to measure your success correctly. And your sponsors are going to want to know, too. After all, these sponsors are spending their hard-earned money. They want to know that their dollars are utilized not only efficiently but effectively. The proof is in the event pudding!
It is necessary to create key performance indicators (KPI) to help you measure the success of your event was and have something to show your sponsors.
KPIs for Your Event Below is a list of key performance indicators that we believe, when incorporated successfully, are timeless:
- Total registrations
- Customers acquired
- Event check-ins
- Registration by ticket type
- Cost per customer acquisition
- Speaker engagement
- Accounts influenced (ABM)
- Gross revenue
- Live polling response rate
- Number of active community members
- Social media mentions
- Cost to revenue ratio
- Number of qualified sales leads
- Session analytics
- Sponsorship satisfaction
- Pipeline generated
- Number of messages sent within the event community
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Number of returning attendees
- Revenue by promo code
Make a Great Pitch and Build Better Sponsor Relationships
Suppose you genuinely want to sell more sponsorships for your events. In that case, one needs to learn how to deliver a great pitch to Sponsors while also learning how to build even more significant relationships with these future companies and build and create significant sponsor relationships. That means slow down and take your time to understand and pay attention to the small details; they are what matter..
For example, look for the best times to call sponsors. Call Human Resources and ask when the best time to call would be. Then, you’ll want to make sure you get into contact with the right person at the company. Depending on the organization’s size, you might be speaking to the owner or the sponsorship department (if you are dealing with a larger company).
Reaching out months in advance is always the best practice. You want to give sponsors as much time as possible to be considerate and to ensure that they’ll be able to sponsor your event.
What to Do When Reaching Out to Potential Sponsors
Before reaching out to potential sponsors, check their sponsorship guidelines. You’ll also want to:
- Prepare a list of your previous sponsors along with some key attributes
- Be concise (you only really need 20 seconds to introduce your conference, mission, audience, and any press that will be there)
- Know your ideal market (so you can convince potential sponsors that your event is the best event for them to get involved with)
- Attempt an emotional connection (tell a story that helps them connect emotionally with your event and your company)
- Tell them your mission and why it’s important to you and your organization. Show them that you share their values.
The Path to More Event Sponsorships
Selling more sponsorships for your event means using every resource at your disposal. eShow offers registration management, housing, and travel management, a virtual event management platform, lead retrieval, banquet seating and direction, and network and appointment management, and more.
As you present more of your events online, you may need to reinvent your approach. While you can use the latest technology to help you craft a stunning virtual event and potentially reach far more people than ever before, you still need to ensure that your attendees are engaged. Here are eight ways to keep those eyes glued to the screen so that they absorb your content and stay on track.
1. Virtual Networking | Attendee Chat
There is nothing like a live event when it comes to building camaraderie and enhancing the shared experience. It may be hard to replicate some of that “magic” for virtual events, but that does not mean that attendees need to feel isolated or somehow distant.
You can make sure that they interact with each other by setting up ways to connect. For example, you can open topic-specific chat rooms if your events cover many different areas. In addition, you could post a list of attendees in each chat room to spur others to join.
Make this part of your mobile event app’s functionality, ensure that this asset has the messaging capability, and look at the many solutions from eShow to help get you started. Interact with attendees before, during, and after the event to plant comfortable seeds with conversation starters in each chat room if necessary. It gives it not only a personal touch but shows you care by being in the chat as well. That should get the ball rolling!”
2. Getting Their Input | Live Surveys and Polls
For best effect, you should constantly interact with your attendees in the run-up to the event. This effort will help build interest and engagement, and this process will be even more potent if you celebrate their perspective. Continue this interaction through your virtual events by running live polls or surveys. It could be helpful to look back on these as a case study or reference point when planning and implementing new ideas for your next major event, as they can help you improve the structure or content for next time.
You do not need to make all your polls or surveys serious, either. Instead, throw in some fun questions to break the ice, and prompt further interaction.
3. Introducing the Fun | Gamify Your Event
Everyone likes a challenge, and you can engage your attendees by throwing in a game or two during the event. You will need to be creative, though. Draw up competition and allocate each attendee a score depending on their performance. Perhaps you can make this challenge last throughout the event and use a pop-up screen to post the ever-changing leaderboard. Motivate your attendees to score by giving away interim prizes and offer a lovely award for whoever scores the highest points. Put the icing on the cake by presenting these awards in a virtual ceremony.
Combine the ceremony with a significant announcement of some kind, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats and encourage them to stay until the end. Do not be afraid to weave Social Media into your games! It can help spread the word even further and make it even more worthwhile for your attendees.
4. It’s All in Presentation | Focusing on Your Platform
When you run a live event, you often have the luxury of working with the design team (both in-house and at the venue) to ensure that everything looks spectacular for your attendees. When you stage a virtual event, it may be difficult to replicate that type of “wow” factor, but you certainly need to focus on your platform to encourage engagement.
A well-designed portal will impress your attendees. If you can demonstrate the ease and simplicity of navigating your portal, you can worry less about your audience getting on and focus on the topic at hand by keeping them engaged. You will want to avoid confusion at any stage, or it may discourage your attendees, and they may surf elsewhere in the background. Only use the most effective platform for your virtual event if you want to keep people glued to your content. Have a look at the Virtual Event Management (VEM™) Platform from eShow for inspiration.
5. Content | Remains King in the Virtual Landscape
While it may be more challenging to design your online portal than your live event, you certainly need to make sure that your content is as powerful as possible. You may want to take an entirely different approach. For example, focus more on visual aids or interactive devices instead of a talking head to garner attention. Remember that your attendee may encounter distractions on the other end of “the line,” and you may need to exert some additional effort to control their attention.
Keep those sessions short for best effect. While a live attendee may nod off briefly if a session goes on too long, a virtual attendee may disappear altogether in that case.
6. Push it | Getting Instant Engagement
Everyone walks around with a smartphone today, so use this as a tool in capturing your audience’s attention. Thank your attendees for their competition entry or congratulate them as you push out the results. Warn them that a keynote will start soon, so they get any other distractions out of the way first.
7. Provide the Answers | Handling Those Questions
Ensure that you have all the collateral at hand so that attendees can get answers to their frequently asked questions as painlessly as possible. Put a clear link at the top of the event portal but make sure that you do not encourage them to go down a rabbit hole when accessing this information. In other words, please do not include any other links on your FAQ page but give them one option that will take them back to the portal. Alternatively, make the FAQ a pop-up instead, and think about using video as a medium to answer those questions more succinctly instead.
8. Cameras on – and Ready!
Finally, add the element of surprise. In the beginning, advise your attendees that they should always keep their cameras on during the event. Then, tell them that you will call a few of them out by name during the session. This threat should keep them awake and engaged and ready to hold up their virtual hand if called upon to do so!
Maintaining their Attention
We put the “E” in engaged! There are many ways to bolster engagement whenever you run a digital event and some great tools to help make your job a lot easier.
Check out the solutions or products from eShow. Many of these tools work together seamlessly or are purchased separately to help make your event a success. For example, look at the event website offering – a customized website with no reason to worry about code. Or investigate the Virtual Event Management (VEM™) Platform that converts all the traditional offline event elements into a highly customizable virtual world.
Let’s say this louder for those in the back of the (virtual) room. COVID-19 has changed how many, if not most, companies and sectors conduct their business.
This has especially been true for the event-planning industry.
During the past year, conferences and meetings have moved from physical spaces and face-to-face occurrences to online platforms. Isolation and virtual means have helped support social distancing while avoiding coronavirus spread.
As things have relaxed somewhat, many events are moving from 100% virtual to a hybrid format. On paper, hybrid formats could be considered a “win-win” for most meeting planners. They can bring some participants together in manageable amounts while continuing to maintain the above-mentioned social-distancing protocols. Furthermore, the hybrid platform means speakers and panelists can reach a broader swath of virtual attendees.
However, the hybrid format doesn’t just happen. It requires the right technology, skills, and equipment for success. Failure to plan could mean a conference, event, or meeting that doesn’t achieve its mission.
Defining the Hybrid Event
Part of the difficulty in planning for a hybrid meeting or conference is that it has many permutations.
According to Meeting Planners International, a hybrid event consists of at least one face-to-face group. This group digitally connects with other participants in one or more off-site locations. MPI pointed out that effective hybrid events combine the positives of real-life meetings with virtual interactions.
The issue, however, is that those virtual interactions encompass a variety of formats. They can be a “pod” scenario, in which participants meet in small groups in different locations. Or, they can consist of all virtual participants. Or they might involve technology streaming to other specific meeting locations or offices. Basically, the hybrid format is as flexible as it sounds. This offers benefits and challenges.
The Future of Hybrid Events
Though it might seem unlikely at this time, COVID-19 will eventually dwindle in its severity. People will gather in large groups, once again. But this won’t necessarily be the end to the hybrid meeting format.
For example, In a poll taken throughout the industry shows 62% of event planners believe the hybrid model is here to stay. There are good reasons for this optimism. When conducted properly, hybrid events combine flexibility, efficiency, diversity, and technological growth. They can also offer very busy people the opportunity to attend conferences and meetings, a definite issue, even before the coronavirus pandemic.
But a hybrid event is only as successful as the tools used to produce it.
What Could Go Wrong?
Planning a hybrid event involves more than simply booking time on a virtual meeting account, hiring speakers and panelists, sending out many emails, and then flipping a switch.
In fact, thinking hybrid events magically coming together could lead to the following mistakes:
- Wasted time and poor content delivery due to a lack of A/V, mobile, and web testing
- Uncertain presentation due to untrained speakers and panelists.
- Ignoring the needs of virtual attendees, who might make up the bulk of participants
- “Drop-outs” and “cut-off,” due to low-quality technology
Choosing the wrong technology platform can pose another potential issue. While virtual meeting sites might work well for smaller, one-off gatherings, conferences don’t fit that bill. As every event planner knows, physical, face-to-face events have a lot of moving parts. This is just as true when it comes to hybrid events.
Ensuring A Professional Solution
The above isn’t meant to criticize video conference tools or meeting sites. Most work quite well. Their deficiency likes in that they focus on one thing: The meeting, or gathering, itself. But let’s take a look at what is included with just about any major event:
- Registration (including cancelations and last-minute “walk-ins”)
- Exhibitor space and booths
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Merchandise stores
- Meeting discounts
- Networking spaces
- Formal and informal discussions and chats
- Handouts and brochures
None of the above includes the actual event. Activities involved could consist of keynote speeches, round tables and panel discussions, breakout sessions, and one-on-one “town hall” meetings. Once again, moving parts. And, once again, standard virtual meeting tools might not be effective in these situations.
Successful hybrid events require the proper technology and solutions. For instance, eShow’s Virtual Event Management (VEMTM) technology offers the following:
- Secure payment processes for attendees
- Customization options for exhibitor booths
- Set-ups for unique sponsorship opportunities
- Higher at-conference engagement through networking “space” and chat tools
- An ideal online environment for presentations, seminars, speeches, and more
- Post-data event analysis
As each event and conference is unique, the necessary required tools are as well. You might not need an entire VEMTM package for your particular situation. But your hybrid event will involve more than speakers. As such, having those tools available could mean the difference between a superior conference and one that is just mediocre.
When you spearhead real-time events, you likely put a great deal of thought into all the components. Even seemingly small details, such as signage and table set-ups, are carefully considered. The same holds true with hybrid events. No, you likely won’t require registration tables or wayfinding signs to the restroom in your digital (formally virtual) event. But, these conferences require just as much forethought and analysis, well before the first save-the-date message goes out to your audience.
Part of your pre-meeting analysis should also include the tools you need for your hybrid happening. It’s important to figure out what you need, understand your requirements, and source the proper tools. Putting those means into place, and ensuring their accessibility, can lead to a talked-about, outstanding event. It can mean satisfied participants, happy exhibitors, elated sponsors, and delighted speakers. It can also reduce your stress and allow you to focus on other aspects of your job.
Turn to eShow for all facets of meeting and conference planning. Whether your needs involve housing and travel management, meeting logistics, lead retrieval, or more, eShow’s products and services can help in all areas of meeting and event planning.
As an event manager, it’s important to know if your hard work planning the event paid off. Therefore, you need to collect and analyze relevant data to measure the success of your event, whether it’s in person, virtual or hybrid. Attendance is frequently used to gauge event success; however, this metric alone can’t provide you with enough information to ascertain the event’s true success. For example, the number of attendees isn’t enough data for measuring engagement or satisfaction — metrics that’ll prove useful in securing sponsors for future events.
Before you can measure your event’s success, you need to define its goals clearly. For example, do you want to increase brand awareness? Increase traffic to the company website? Although event goals will vary from one company to the next, there are nine types of data you should collect before, during, and after your event to measure its overall success. This data will show you what went right and what you can improve in future events.
1. Ticket Sales, Registrations, and Check-Ins
The number of tickets sold (or registrations for free events) is an important metric in determining an event’s success. This number shows the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. The number of check-ins is another metric to consider, as it’s not uncommon for people to buy tickets or register for an event and not show up. If check-ins are substantially lower than registrations, you likely need to interact more with attendees between registration and the event date.
2. Mobile App Downloads
Mobile event apps can provide event managers with data points for measuring event success. For example, calculating the number of app downloads, return app visits, and level of engagement will give you valuable insight into an event’s success. This will allow you to implement strategies for future events relevant to those interacting within the app.
3. Repeat Event Attendance
Returning attendees are an indicator of your ability to provide enough value to keep people coming back for more. In addition, returning attendees are likely to be brand evangelists and prone to not only convert but to spread the word about your brand.
4. Visits to Event and Company Websites
To measure the level of interest in your event, keep track of all event and company website traffic (unique visitors, page views, and conversion rates) for up to a month following the event. If your event was successful, you should see a rise in direct traffic numbers. This indicates that people are either seeking additional content or looking to buy your product/service.
5. Social Media Engagement
In today’s digital environment, monitoring the social media activity of event attendees will give you an indication of your event’s success. Before and after the event, ask attendees to use a specific event hashtag when posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This will allow you to measure audience growth and track the number of times the hashtag is shared across these platforms.
As a qualitative means of assessing event success, review attendees’ social media posts for positive or negative feedback. For example, which sessions, speakers, or exhibitors garnered the most interest? Did attendees have pain points that you failed to cover?
6. Post-Event Surveys
Send post-event surveys to attendees to measure experience and gauge satisfaction. You can increase the number of responses by keeping your surveys short — asking only the most pertinent questions. Your survey can be as simple as:
- Is there anything you feel we need to improve for future events?
- How likely are you to attend another [company name] event?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend attending [name of event] to a friend or associate?
An online resource such as Survey Monkey makes it easy to create and distribute your post-event surveys and calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS). This metric will give you an idea of how many attendees were satisfied with your event enough to attend future events and encourage others to participate.
7. Cost to Revenue Ratio
If you’re organizing a corporate event, you’ll likely want to generate revenue in addition to building brand awareness and sustaining customer loyalty. Ideally, the costs (money, time) of carrying out your event will be less than the revenue generated (ticket sales, sponsorships, exhibitor fees, etc.).
The cost to revenue ratio is expressed as cost/revenue. Thus, a favorable ratio will be less than 1, and the lower it is, the better. To calculate this metric, you’ll need to measure:
- Forecasted cost; forecasted revenue
- Actual cost; actual revenue
- If your cost to revenue ratio is higher than anticipated, your event wasn’t necessarily a flop. For example, did you obtain a substantial number of newsletter signups? That’s one way to reach potential customers who could give you repeat business for years to come.
To encourage sales and keep track of revenue resulting from an event, give attendees a promo code to purchase your products or services.
8. Sponsor | Exhibitor ROI
Providing sponsors and exhibitors with favorable Return On Investment (ROI) data will encourage them to participate in future events. Track visits and conversions on sponsors’ websites. The more data you can provide, the better.
9. Marketing ROI
Depending on your audience, email marketing is still a viable method of reaching prospective event attendees. If you market events via emailed newsletters, measure the open rate to gain insight into the event topics attendees are interested in.
When evaluating success metrics for your event, compare your most recent event to previous events to see where you’ve hit the mark and where you need to step up your game.
According to a study by event research firm Freeman, collecting and analyzing event data is a major pain point for event managers, with 46% of respondents reporting a lack of effective data analysis. In addition, 37% reported significant challenges in accessing comprehensive event data.
With our robust yet flexible solutions, eShow can help you cost-effectively collect the data needed to accurately measure your event’s success. Select a singular product or bundle products to meet your data needs. Think of eShow as your one-stop shop for all of your event management needs. We give you everything you need to fly solo, but we’re always here if you need us.
Once you’ve determined the purpose, audience, and budget for your event, you’ll need to select vendors to help carry out your vision. Even if you’re a top-notch event manager, you can’t go at it alone. If you envision a wildly successful event, you’ll need to choose exceptional vendors. Employing vendors that are anything less than exceptional could result in a less than optimal experience for attendees.
Depending on the nature of your event, your roster of vendors might include the following:
- Caterer | Bartender – Food, beverages
- Decorator – Venue decoration
- Florist – Provide centerpieces, etc.
- Graphic Artist – Design event signage, invitations
- Photographer | Videographer – document the event
- Performers – Provide entertainment
- Transportation | Parking services – Drive and park vehicles
As you’re searching for vendors, solicit referrals from colleagues and make a shortlist of those that come highly recommended. When contacting those vendors, obtain and record the following information (at least).
- Vendor name and contact information
- Service | Product
- Prices | Discounts
- Lead times required
- Payment | Refund policy
- Licenses | Permits | Insurance (where applicable)
If and when you decide to move forward with a particular vendor, this information will become part of your vendor management system.
Your vendor management system can save you a great deal of time when planning future events because you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. The more information you can obtain from the vendor, the better. Letters of reference, samples, portfolios, and observations from the vendor’s work at another event can give you more confidence in who you ultimately hire.
Once you’ve assembled your team of ace vendors, effective and efficient vendor management is essential to ensure that they meet your expectations and those of your attendees. The following tips will help you stay on top of the vendor management aspect of planning your event.
1. Write Down Your Expectations
Even if you provide verbal instructions to your vendors, it’s also important to provide written documentation with clear expectations. The documentation doesn’t have to be complicated; a simple list of services/products to be provided will suffice. If you prefer more detail, you can create a spec sheet with explicit descriptions of everything the vendor has agreed to provide.
2. Have a Contract for Each Vendor
Your written documentation for each vendor can live in the form of a contract that outlines the terms of the agreement. The contract is a legally binding work order with specifics about what you expect from the vendor and what recourse you’ll take if they don’t deliver on the contract. By signing and dating the contract, you and the vendor agree to the terms that lie within. Those terms should include the following:
- A clear description of services, equipment, and products to be provided
- Costs and payment terms
- Delivery date and time
- Proof of insurance, licensing, bonding (where applicable)
- Vendor requirements (access to water, electricity, etc.)
3. Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Staying in close contact with your vendors is an important aspect of effective vendor management. During the hiring process, establish a method of communication that will be used to relay progress updates or changes.
While exceptional vendors shouldn’t need to be reminded to deliver as promised, having a strong communication strategy in place will give you peace of mind. Vendor management software, such as eShow, can help you efficiently manage and streamline communication with your vendors.
4. Reiterate Delivery Times Throughout Planning Stage
Timing is essential to an event’s success. Exact delivery dates and times should be established at the beginning of your vendor arrangement. It’s also helpful to ask vendors to re-commit to those times throughout the event planning stage to ensure they know when you expect delivery. You won’t want to leave that to chance.
5. Check Delivered Items for Accuracy
Whether your vendor hand-delivers items or uses a courier service, check each order for accuracy and quality. You don’t want to find out that your order is incomplete or damaged after they’ve left. Instead, carefully inspect (or designate someone to inspect) all items in the order. Notify the vendor immediately if the delivered order deviates from what’s stated in the contract.
6. Be Good to Your Vendors
The adage “good help is hard to find” can apply to vendor selection. If you have vendors that are performing at or above your expectations, treat them well. Vendors expect a bit of negotiation, but don’t ask them for freebies or discounts to the point where they can’t make a decent profit. Doing so might cause them to turn down your future service requests.
Vendor Management Made Easy With eShow.
Effective and efficient vendor management can take your events from so-so to legendary. To streamline this function, follow the lead of event managers who take advantage of technology to optimize your outcome. In Bizzabo’s 2020 Event Marketing Report (close to 500 mid-to-senior level marketers from high-caliber organizations like Forbes, SAP, and Gartner were surveyed), marketers were found to be overwhelmingly in favor of event software:
- 92% of marketers feel event software makes it easier to achieve desired outcomes.
- 80% of marketers who currently use event software have no trouble proving return on investment (ROI).
- 89% of marketers who use event software feel that they save time when planning events — roughly 200 hours per year. Additionally, 20% of marketers reported saving 360 or more hours per year with event technology.
Armed with eShow’s tools and web-based solutions, you, too, can easily and efficiently handle vendor management tasks. Our tools can be customized to your needs and budget, help you communicate with vendors, maintain a vendor database, and stay on budget.
eShow goes beyond vendor management and provides solutions for all aspects of your event, from the planning stage to the actual event date. We can provide everything you need for a successful event, whether it’s in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
From a complete industry shutdown to the rush into the virtual world, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly kept event professionals on their toes. As more and more people get vaccinated, the interest in in-person events has returned. However, this has created new challenges.
Many event managers are unsure of what the future holds. In a world where the COVID-19 virus remains relevant, how do you balance the desire for human contact with the need to ensure safety and comfort? As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” you can expect to see a host of new trends arising.
For event managers, it’s essential to prepare for what’s coming next and lead the way. So here’s a closer look at some of the most crucial industry shifts happening right now.
As things slowly begin to open back up, hybrid events are positioned to be this year’s hottest trend. While this isn’t a new concept, the value has become highly apparent in today’s contemporary world. Offering both in-person and virtual event options allows your guests to choose the level of engagement that makes them feel most comfortable. In addition, since more people can attend without the expense and hassle of travel, offering a virtual option also makes your event accessible to a far larger audience.
Hybrid events offer many benefits. However, planning them creates some challenges. It’s critical to set up these events in a way that makes both in-person and virtual delegates feel welcome and engaged. Providing the best possible attendee experience also requires a significant amount of planning and preparation.
Forward-thinking event planners and managers are already procuring the tools and skills they need to create and execute stellar hybrid events. So not only is this format not going away any time soon, but it’s also likely to become standard practice rather than an exception to the norm.
One potential drawback of a hybrid event is the challenge of keeping your attendees’ attention. While it’s easy to pack a three-day, in-person event with fun and exciting activities, recreating this experience online is a bit more complicated. Your virtual attendees may not be thrilled about spending an entire day staring at a screen and are even less likely to want to commit to a multiple-day event.
Shortening your event is a great option. However, it still may not be enough. When planning a hybrid event, it’s important to keep engaging by adding plenty of interactive activities. This may include question and answer sessions, tutorials for hands-on projects, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.
Investing in a virtual event management platform is one of the best ways to ensure your off-site guests enjoy a fully interactive event experience. This will also allow exhibitors to promote their products, provide sponsorship value, and enable two-way communication between remote attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors.
You may also consider providing perks for your virtual attendees to make the experience as close to the “real thing” as possible. For example, you may consider providing vouchers for food delivery services, like Grub Hub or Uber Eats, or having physical swag bags delivered right to the attendee’s front door.
Focus on Safety and Sanitation
Despite the increase in vaccinations, it’s still critical for event planners to stay vigilant regarding safety and sanitation. In addition, for the time being, the need for social distancing remains. This makes event design more complex and requires additional planning. For example, you’ll need to stay conscious of the layout of open spaces and consider using a seating management program to maintain proper separation during seated portions of your events.
It’s also critical to ensure your venue has cleaning protocols in place and communicate them clearly with your event attendees. Other accommodations, such as mobile app technology to limit physical contact between attendees and staff, will also remain the norm for the foreseeable future.
Smaller Regional Events
For now, mega-events will likely remain on hold. Instead of national conventions and tradeshows, companies are more likely to host separate regional events. As more people get comfortable, you may see a shift back towards more significant events. However, this possibly won’t occur until 2023 or later.
In the meantime, you may see events slowly getting more prominent. So, for example, while a company may host four to five events across the country this year, they may cut it down to separate east-cost and west-coast affairs next year.
Data-Led Decision Making
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Old assumptions are no longer valid, making data-driven decision-making even more critical. Not only do event planners and organizers need to analyze new information coming in, but you’ll need to do it with far greater attention to detail.
Studying your data will help you clearly understand what’s going on in your regional area, across the nation, and around the globe. This will allow you to stay ahead of changes and prepare you to adjust your approach when the need arises proactively.
Continued Need for Flexibility
If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we need to expect the unexpected. Whether it’s a resurgence of COVID-19 or another serious issue, there’s always the chance that something could throw a wrench in your best-laid plans.
Now, more than ever, event planners and managers need a way to clearly and efficiently communicate changes with event hosts, sponsors, and attendees.
Using a meeting logistics manager will help you orchestrate all the details of your event and serve as a single point of communication. Not only will this allow you to keep all the details you need at your fingertips, but it will also help you quickly make adjustments as needed.
The Next Generation of Event Planning
As the world continues moving forward, it’s critical to make sure you’re prepared for the next era of events. Whether you’re hosting in-person, full digital/virtual, or hybrid events, eShow offers various products and services that will help ensure they’re both engaging and effective. Contact us today to request a full demo!
The future of live events is starting to look brighter! While the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost all events into the digital world in 2020, vaccine rollouts have allowed us to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
In fact, small-scale gatherings are popping up all over the country. Families and friends embrace the opportunity to start spending time together again, and organizations are looking for ways to meet the growing demand for in-person gatherings.
While we’re all ready to get back into the swing of things, it’s also important to consider some of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a look at a few of the things you’ll need to consider.
While the vaccine rollout has created some exuberance, it’s critical to remember that the COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated. In fact, new variants and a rise in cases among unvaccinated individuals have created a new wave of concerns.
People are excited to start gathering again; however, many still feel apprehensive about the safety of going out into large crowds. Event planners and managers are now tasked with taking extra safety precautions and doing everything they can to ensure attendees feel comfortable during their events.
For now, in-person events will likely remain scaled back. While they won’t have the size and grandeur of the past, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring! The best event planners are now doubling down on creativity to ensure their events are still exciting and well worth attending.
At the same time, things like limiting capacity, offering contactless registration, and creating set-ups that allow for social distancing are now at the top of every event manager’s priority list. Hand sanitizing stations and other precautions are also likely to remain the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. In addition, event organizers must now seriously consider the pros and cons of mandating COVID-19 tests and/or vaccines. Planners must also figure out how to seamlessly execute any mandates put in place, including explaining the protocol to attendees and handling any push-back.
Event planners and managers need to ensure safety protocols are in place and followed. However, it’s also equally important to communicate with event attendees. Making them aware of the steps you’re taking to keep them safe will help ease any remaining anxiety, allowing them to enjoy your event truly.
From explaining protocols by email before leveraging your social media platforms, the ultimate goal is to make every attendee feel as comfortable as possible. Your messaging should clearly and repeatedly communicate a “safety-first” attitude. Do this correctly, and you’ll be able to shift attendees’ thinking from “Am I going to be safe?” to “I wonder what they’re serving for dinner?” This is the sweet spot where they can finally relax and become truly engaged.
At the same time, you’ll need to manage your attendees’ expectations. Ensuring they know that the event will be scaled back can help ensure that no one will be disappointed. In fact, if they’re aware that they should expect less, you’ll have a greater chance to impress them with the incredible experience you’re able to create despite any current restrictions.
COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines have not only influenced the structure of all events, but they’ve completely changed them. This has made flexibility more important than ever.
While there’s a lot of optimism and excitement about the steady return of in-person events, it’s also important to be ready for unexpected setbacks. Additional outbreaks, the return of mask mandates, and even new restrictions on gatherings are all still possible. For this reason, it’s critical to have backup plans in place. Having a system for efficiently communicating any changes to your vendors, speakers, venue, and attendees will save time when it matters most and help ensure your event goes off without a hitch.
Innovation has been in overdrive as event planners, and other professionals find ways to adapt to the new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there’s a clear demand for in-person events, it’s also important to understand that virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay, at least for the next few years.
Some people aren’t ready to deal with crowds, while others appreciate the ease and convenience of attending events from home. In addition, continued capacity limitations will lower the number of in-person tickets you can sell. Combining these factors makes it important for event planners to continue finding ways to make both hybrid and in-person events appealing to attendees.
Keeping up with COVID-19 compliance and successfully managing hybrid event production is certainly intimidating, particularly if you’re trying to do it yourself. The good news is, partnering with a professional team of advisors and having the right technology in place can make all the difference!
As you continue to navigate these uncertain times, it’s important to remember that events are no longer just about dates, rates, and space. Today, the focus has turned to health, safety, efficiency, and transparency. Having the right partners in place will allow you to plan the in-person and hybrid events attendees crave while remaining nimble enough to adapt as things change quickly.
eShow offers a full suite of event management solutions under a single umbrella. Our web-based solutions communicate with each other, allowing you to customize and scale your experience completely. In addition, if an unexpected change occurs, our system will allow you to make a change in one central location instead of losing valuable time contacting multiple vendors.
To learn more, contact us today! eShow’s innovative products can help you not only survive but thrive in this continually changing environment. We would love to walk you through our suite of solutions and show you how we can provide you with the peace of mind you need for your next event.
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