How to Plan a Large Scale Virtual Event

If you’re an event professional, you’re no stranger to live events.

You thrive on being around people and the energy in the room, and you've hosted more than one small event during your career. Now, you're wondering: how will that translate to virtual event planning on a grand scale? When it comes to a large virtual event, the bar is raised, and all eyes are on you without the luxury of stage lighting. You don't want to mess up.

The intimidation is natural, but planning a large event doesn't have to be. An amazing and memorable event awaits you when you follow these steps.

 

Set Goals

You've learned over the years never to go into a team meeting trying to wing it. If you do, you won't accomplish what you think you’ve set out to do, and you'll leave a large audience feeling inpatient while you try to figure things out. 

This is even more true in a large virtual event, so start here to plan an event people will remember for the right reasons.

To clarify your goals, ask yourself these questions:

    • Who are you inviting to your large virtual event?
    • Why are you hosting this event?
    • How does this even work into your broader business or marketing strategy?
    • How would you define success?
    • What type of environment do you need to create on a virtual event platform to achieve this?

 

Know What You're Spending Money On

Budgeting in event management is key to success, to ensure that you allocate the right resources to the event, and so you don't start spending only to run out of money before your event.

Take some time to consider everything that needs to happen to host a large event. Creating a budget limits how much you shell out for one event and fosters creativity from the start. That way, you inevitably spend smarter. As a result, your event budget goes further.

If this were a physical event, you'd have a venue, caterers, valet, security, grab bags, suppliers, staff costs, etc. A virtual event is much different, to an extent. But you certainly do have to account for advertising, web hosting, or virtual event platform license costs, sound, keynote speakers, staff, tech professionals to ensure up-time, and venue costs, in a hybrid event scenario.

 

Calculate Ticket Pricing for Your Large Virtual Event

Overpricing tickets and attendance will leave much to be desired. Underpricing tickets may create value perception issues that have a similar effect. It is important to find that sweet spot.

 

Tabulate Your Costs to Get to Your Break-Even Point

Start by calculating your costs for the event, as we discussed above. Don't forget to include the time any event organizers had to plan for the event if you're paying them. If several managers in your corporation have to meet weekly for three months leading up to the event, this is considered a cost, even if they're salaried. Adding all of this up shows you the absolute minimum you must do to break even.

We also recommend you divide expenses into fixed and adjustable. This provides you with some flexibility if you must adjust ticket pricing.

For additional information, see: How to Calculate Event Ticket Prices

 

Determine If Your Event Should Be a Ticketed Event

Refer back to the goal of the event. Is this an employee or marketing event? Then your event may be considered an investment in your business, so ticket revenues may not be the goal. However, you still need to consider whether you need to charge for tickets, knowing that people tend to perceive value when they have to pay for something.

 

Identify Your Desired ROI

Let's say you do plan to make money. Ask yourself what total "revenue - event cost" do you need to make to call it a success?

Now, divide that total revenue by the number of tickets you'll sell. You may refer to past data to evaluate your chances of selling out the virtual venue.

So far, what we have is (event cost + profit margin)/ticket sales quantity = basic ticket price. But don't skip the next step.

 

Compare Your Pricing to Competitors

Take a look at what competitors would charge for a similar ticket. This shows you how much your attendees will be willing to pay. If you find you're overpriced compared to competitors, you either need to reduce your profit margin or start cutting those adjustable expenses identified when you began to plan a large event.

 

Find the Right Virtual Event Platform 

This isn't a daily manager call. This is virtual event planning, so it's vital that you choose the right virtual event platform that can both meet your needs and provide an unforgettable experience for attendees. You want them to come back and tell others about the experience.

To find the right virtual event platform, ask yourself these questions:

    • Will the virtual venue technology actually deliver what the vendor promises? It's one thing to talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Check out online reviews, social media, forums, sign up for a demo, or try out the platform in advance for a smaller event.
    • Do they provide prompt support before and before, during, and after the event?
    • Is the virtual event platform scalable? Once you host a large virtual event with the right platform, you'll want to do this again and make it bigger. We promise!
    • Can you take a test drive? Try to take a demo of the virtual event platform.
    • How do they define success? Get their KPIs in writing and make sure you're on the same page.
    • Can they help you achieve a high ROI? A great virtual event platform provides you with advanced tools to plan an event, get the word out, communicate with attendees, and achieve success. Big events are complicated - it's worth it to have all these tools in one place.

 

Obtaining Sponsors

If someone sponsors the event, start early. Get it all in writing. And make sure the sponsors understand what they're sponsoring to avoid disputes down the road. 

For additional information, see: 3 Steps to Lock in Speakers for Your Virtual Event

 

Scheduling and Agenda

You can't plan a large event without knowing what's on the schedule. You'll always know what's on the agenda with these tips.

Schedule leadership events around the leaders. If you're inviting leaders, know that they are the busiest, so they need the most notice. Plan the event around their typical schedule to achieve the highest attendance among these busy professionals.

Alternate formats and presentations. You must keep the audience engaged throughout, especially if this is an all-day event. So alternate types of formats and speakers to keep it interesting and everyone tuned in.

Promote personal connection. While you may need silence during certain times in the program, be sure to include opportunities for people to talk, express ideas, engage each other, and get to know the group.

Have a backup plan. What if a speaker doesn't show?  Have a plan for that time slot that seems planned because it is.

 

Don't Forget the Swag Bags

Swag bags elevate your event, so don't plan an event without them. Skimping here can leave a bad taste in attendees' mouths. It's even worse than no swag bag at all. When it comes to in-person events, swag bags can be passed out once attendees enter the front doors. Other times, event coordinators can send bags to attendees’ houses. But, how do you build a swag bag when you plan a large virtual event?

At 6Connex, we have a virtual briefcase that can double as a virtual swag bag, which attendees can access easily right from their navigation bar. This briefcase can be designed however event organizers please, even as a goodie bag.

Your virtual goodie bag can include some of these items, depending on the group:

    • All materials attendees need for the event - virtual, organized, and easy to access.
    • Schedule or agenda
    • Event-specific games
    • Chances to win
    • eBooks
    • Gift cards
    • Creative digital assets related to the event
    • An industry report or whitepaper
    • Recipes
    • Special offers from sponsors or your company
    • Links to relevant content

 

Start Marketing Your Large Virtual Event

Get the word out!

You can begin marketing and event promotion with tools and techniques like:

    • Press releases
    • Emails to your regular subscribers as well as new signups from the event campaigns
    • Drip campaigns
    • Offer referral codes 
    • Early bird offers
    • VIP offers
    • "Back-stage access" to speakers or entertainers
    • Social media sharing using branded hashtags
    • Boosting social media posts
    • Remarketing
    • Inbound marketing
    • Interactive content
    • Contests
    • Pay-per-click advertising

 

Start Networking

Preparing for a large event may require smaller events to connect with your audience and generate buzz around the big event. We have some ideas for networking too!

Host virtual networking events for VIPs or select attendees that align with your big event, such as a virtual:

    • Dinner party
    • Event planning session
    • Pre-event chat
    • Post-event chat
    • Group workout
    • Group meditation
    • Meet and greet (the ultimate networking event!)
    • Costume party (everyone dresses up in a costume or their best suit. Yes, it's still fun in a virtual setting!)
    • Ice-breaking games
    • Exclusive access
    • Interactive lesson
    • Roundtables

 

Analyze Your Data

Learn from any mistakes and improve your future event performance. Delight attendees with your understanding of what they want out of events, and then deliver that experience. 

It all comes down to reviewing your event data once live-day has ended. But, before you host your event, be sure you understand the specific KPIs to measure event satisfaction, and how to track them efficiently. 

To properly analyze event data, you’ll want to know:

    • How many people registered?
    • How many attended?
    • The percentage of attendees to registrants?
    • How many "no-showed"?
    • How long did people attend?
    • How engaged were attendees  (unlike a webinar, where attendees are more or less watching/listening, virtual events can include many activities, rooms, exhibits, sessions, and offers to explore while they're there; you want to know the depth attendees traveled through these interactive digital options)?
    • How are attendees networking, and how much?
    • How many attended various sessions, exhibits, resources?
    • How much did the attendees interact with speakers/entertainers via social media, comments, etc.?
    • What are people saying after the event (attendee surveys)?

 

Ready to Plan a Large Event?

We can help you automate and simplify the event planning process with the online tools you need to plan and host the perfect event. Whether you're considering a more traditional webinar, all-day seminar, or a full-scale virtual trade show, it becomes possible with 6Connex. We're your all-in-one creator and manager of engaging virtual environments.

We make it simple with fully-integrated engagement tools, hybrid events, event security, and perhaps most importantly, useable analytics to demonstrate how your attendees interacted with your event. Customize your event to meet your needs. Our customers consistently praise our attentive customer service. And, yes, we're global, so we can be available whenever you are.

The possibilities are virtually endless. For more information, download our free e-book below, The 6Connex Playbook to Planning Your Virtual Event. Contact us to try it out for yourself today.

 

 E-Book: The Playbook to Planning Your Virtual Event


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