On first thought, the analogy of comparing virtual event planning to wedding planning may sound a bit far-fetched. However, relating the virtual event process to something more familiar may better help you understand the steps necessary in planning and executing a successful virtual event.
Select your wedding party
To plan a successful virtual event, you must make sure you have a reliable internal team who are committed to working hard to ensure the event’s success. The team can consist of as few or as many people as you wish, as long as each member’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. For example, an internal team can include a project manager (wedding planner), creative director (your friend who designs the invitations), content coordinator, and technical lead (your DJ).
Narrow down the date
When choosing a date, it is essential to consider both your timeline, and how to best accommodate your guests. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend a 90-day lead time when planning a virtual event, but this can vary by project scope. Make sure to consider other industry events that may be taking place, as well as your attendee base’s geographic location and time zones. Note: for your wedding, we recommend much more than 90 days!
Set the budget
Just like with weddings, virtual event budgets can range from a few thousand dollars to a few million! First, set your budget internally and obtain approval from your management team. Then, work with your virtual event platform provider on an overall solution that fits your budget. If you’re left with “leftover” budget dollars, be prepared with a plan to use it or save it. Note: at weddings, extra budget could be used to upgrade from Salisbury steak to prime rib.
Choose the venue
There are a variety of platforms that can host your event, so make sure that you choose the partner that best fits your needs and understands your objectives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, view demo environments, and contact references. Ask your potential platform vendor for their input on strategy and implementation and request a comprehensive plan of how their solution can achieve your virtual strategy. Note: for outdoor weddings, a veranda with a nice view also helps.
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Determine the guest list
To determine your guest list, you must first identify your target audience. Is your event only intended to be viewed by members of a certain company or organization? Is it open to the public, but geared towards a certain industry? Do you want as many people as possible to attend, regardless of their demographics and intentions? Answering these questions early on in the planning process will be extremely useful when planning your marketing strategy. Note: as with the Royal Wedding, a hybrid event can dramatically broaden the reach of your guest list.
Decide on the decor
Utilize your in-house creative folk or an external agency to put together logos, banners, and event images that will “wow” the audience. Ensure that all aspects of your virtual event, from registration to reporting, all have a cohesive look and feel that exemplifies your brand identity. As with a wedding, however, simple navigation rules. So be sure it’s intuitive to guests how to get from the coat check to the reception hall and back.
Provide the entertainment
Just like a choosing the perfect band or DJ can make or break a wedding reception, the content offered within your virtual event is a key component in determining attendee satisfaction. Whether utilizing presentations, sponsor spaces, or networking areas, ensure that your virtual content drives attendee engagement.
Send thank you notes
Just as any polite event host would, make sure to thank your audience for attending once your event is over. Thank you emails not only remind the audience that their attendance was appreciated, but are also your final chance to provide them with key information, such as how to contact you in the future, as well as reminding them of the event archive period. You can also include a follow-up survey to gather feedback on the attendee experience.
Your virtual event is like your wedding – if you plan well for the Big Day, you’ll generate a lifetime of memories. If you develop a great plan and execute against it, you and your guests will have a great time. Just don’t forget to say “I Do.”
Post contributed by Lauren Wolf