The COVID Series: What could possibly go wrong?

Malcolm Wallace Virtual Conferences

What could possibly go wrong?

We had a team meeting with our event managers yesterday and I happened to ask whether there were some recurring themes around the challenges our customers have switching to virtual events and hybrid events.

Our EMs jumped on this with alacrity as it seems to have been a big topic with them. I figured that if these issues are so prevalent with our customers it must also be true for a wider audience. Do you identify with any of the challenges below?

  • Fear of tech failure. The platform not coping or issues with delegates accessing the platform (old browsers, only using mobile devices, not used to it etc etc., you’ve heard it all before, no doubt!)
  • Not being able to replicate networking or the social aspects of an in-person event (Apparently no-one is going to join a Zoom call with others to have a glass of wine, although I admit to being very guilty of this, albeit with friends not work contacts!)
  • Audience won’t engage. Many think their target audience are dinosaurs.
  • Not understanding how to translate an established in-person event to virtual. How do you turn a 3-day physical event into a 5-day programme with shorter days?
  • A lack of understanding of how content can be delivered (webcast, webinar, roundtable. Who’s on camera, who’s not and what the audience can or can’t do)
  • Thinking everything should be like Zoom where everyone can be on camera and not understanding why it is not always appropriate.

The majority of these issues are rooted in the fear of the unknown and can easily be solved by good planning and rehearsals. Our event managers are very used to solving problems, and these are just the tip of the iceberg, so if you want a life without stress, give us a call.

The COVID Series: Top Ten Tips for Virtual Events

Top Tips for Virtual Events

If you are an organisation used to generating income or gaining customers, motivating your team or salesforce or just communicating in a live event and you’re not using virtual events then you are missing out.

That’s a confident statement but, for the moment, unrestricted live events are dead and buried and if you relied on these for any of the above you need a viable replacement and that is where virtual steps in.

Not another Zoom call, I hear you groan. No! The world has moved on from the limitations of Zoom or Teams. That is not to say they do not have their place; they are brilliant tools for the right purpose but in terms of supplying fresh and interesting engagement, monetising and communicating, virtual and hybrid are where you need to be.

The choice of platforms seems to be growing exponentially, each one offering a confusing range of benefits and features. To make the most of these platforms you need to know how to use them properly, we have been invited to so many poorly run virtual events which could have been so much better.

It is a lot to learn and that is where good, solid experience kicks in, so I have asked our lovely virtual events team to come up with their top ten thoughts on how not to qualify for the ‘poorly run’ title.

1. Preparation is key, and this is no different to a live event. Establish your key objectives and make sure all stakeholders are aligned to those objectives. Think about your audience; what do you want them to experience and what are they expecting to gain from experience.

2. Rehearsal time. Don’t underestimate the value of this, presenting virtually is not the same as presenting live. Rehearse the whole event, this approach will help identify the glitches in your planned event.

3. Keep messaging simple. Repeat one creative theme across all the communication mediums including registration pages, landing page, speaker backgrounds, presentations etc.Use a good facilitator.

4. Use a good facilitator. Using a facilitator will massively enable audience engagement, particularly if you are using a platform that enables members of the audience to be invited to speak and includes Q&A with the audience.

5. Live or not? For keynote speakers our advice is to pre-record taking the risk element out of the presentation but have the speaker available for answering questions during and after the presentation.

6. Define success metrics. Again, the same as for a live event, you still need to be able to measure whether the event was a success, whatever that looks like to you. It could be numbers attending, survey results, income generated or a host of other possible measurements.

7. Don’t over egg the pudding! We believe that audience engagement is not so resilient on a virtual platform, so try and keep presentations short. Aim for the 20-30 minute sweet spot, unless the presenter has a very compelling reason to extend this.

8. Entertainment. Our team is divided on this one. In essence though, it has to serve a definable objective. It may facilitate networking or encourage movement to a certain area of the platform or designate a coffee break (with a chat function running alongside for networking). Gamification can help to drive footfall to exhibitors and sponsors.

9. The technical side of things. The main thing, of course, is to choose an appropriate platform out of the hundreds available. Start with a list of your requirements; plenary for x hundreds, collaboration areas, round tables, exhibition spaces etc. This will help you to reduce the number of available platforms to a manageable level. Then you can look at the detail of their offering to ensure it meets your expectation.

10. Support. Here at Dynamic we partner with a range of suppliers enabling us to match your requirements with a tried and tested platform. We provide support from planning to fulfilment and technical support over the life of the event. For a lot of people virtual events are new and can be intimidating, like anything new it takes us out of our comfort zone. As a professional partner, we will make it comfortable for you.

That’s 10 tips offered by our virtual events team, however, they have plenty more and we would love to have an opportunity to share our knowledge. Email [email protected], or better still, connect with me on www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmkwallace and we can arrange a demo on a platform best suited to your needs.

Until next time,

Malcolm

Malcolm Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd

Coronavirus – Reducing the Financial Risk

The UK events industry is worth £39.1bn per annum*

The Coronavirus has hit the event industry hard. Many events which were in planning for 2-3 years have been cancelled following the government’s decision to prohibit mass participation events from taking place to contain the outbreak. We are now on lockdown, meaning we have no real way of knowing when events can be postponed or which events in the future can still go ahead.

The larger the event, the bigger and wider the impact has on the whole global economy.

In the last few weeks our spring season of events have taken a huge hit; most have either been cancelled or postponed until 2021, Autumn events are being pushed back not specifically due to the virus itself, but it’s correlated financial impact on all industries and businesses.

As an event management company our goal is to be an extension of our clients. We become part of their team and our primary focus now is to reduce and mitigate the financial impact this will have on their bottom line.

Although we cannot stop the events from being postponed or even cancelled, we can reduce the impact to our clients financially and take away the stress involved in contacting delegates, venues and suppliers.

Here are some of the steps we have already taken as a team;

  • Communication – Over the past few months we have kept our client’s continuously and consistently updated on the current situation and the impact this has on their event.
  • Budget – Creating emergency budgets to show what the impact means financially if attendance was reduced by 20% or even 40%. Looking closely at the budget, analysing extras that would not affect the running of the main conference (decor, entertainment, venue and program changes) to cut costs without lowering value.
  • Contracts – Reviewing contracts with suppliers and venues, specifically cancellation and postponement policies, whilst working on instigating Force Majeure.
  • Inform – Communicating all information to our clients allowing allows them to make informed decisions about their event and the financial impact of any decision they make.
  • Innovation – Providing a solution for live events by presenting a virtual conference platform. We are calling this the “Dynamic virtual world”, an interactive, cost-effective, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative. See our Dynamic virtual world blog post here.

As a team, we collectively have over 100 years of experience in event management. With that comes a wealth of knowledge that puts Dynamic Events in a unique position. Our longstanding relationships, buying power, and mutual respect with suppliers, gives us an advantage to minimise the risk in a situation like this.

Therefore, we have limited and even escaped the financial implications to our clients by re-negotiations and postponement of events to 2021.

“Our long-term partnership with Dynamic Events team is based on mutual trust and a shared vision, and it is a collaboration that achieves excellence for our attendees. Postponing our conferences this year was not an easy decision since they create vital networking opportunities for our member firms. For obvious reasons, our two conferences scheduled to take place in Beijing had to be postponed to 2021. Thanks to the Dynamic Events team’s knowledge of worldwide destination and their contacts, they were not only able to postpone our conferences without any negative financial implications but were also immediately able to suggest alternative locations and programmes.” Paul Ginman, COO and Global Head of Quality – Nexia International, March 2020

The policies and procedures we have in place are purely to protect our clients. Through implementing rigorous contingency plans, this enables, and has enabled, us to react quickly to this current crisis. Whether the client wishes to go ahead with the event, cancel or postpone, we are well equipped to handle any decision they make.

We work with local and national public health authorities, as well as receiving regular updates by the World Health Organisation and continually updating risk assessments. This keeps our clients informed should the situation change, and the event is no longer safe to proceed.

During the event we have an emergency hotline available 24/7 for all delegates, identified isolation zones with venues and contingency plans to organise travel for delegates.

The key to our management is TRUST – our clients trust us as an agency and trust that we shall keep them informed and enable them to react to any situation. Often companies question the expense of having an event management company rather than employing a person inhouse, but our clients will be the first to tell you – we save them time and money. Not just from negotiating more favourable rates with suppliers but should things happen that are out of our human control, like covid-19, our contracts and terms with suppliers protect our clients. 

With our member firms located in more than 146 territories, our regional conferences provide a great platform to build relationships, learn about our strengthening network and portfolio of services and engage in collaborative conversations. When we had to take the decision to cancel this year’s regional conferences, the Dynamic Team kept calm and carried on doing what they do the best. They have managed to renegotiate all local supplier contracts to secure new dates in 2021 with the existing rates and have successfully negotiated for any deposits already paid to be credited against future events. Their quick action and the concise information they provided enabled us to make informed decisions which has been very much appreciated in these extraordinary and uncertain times.Adam Grainger, Chief Information Officer – Baker Tilly, March 2020

Solutions – Virtual conference platforms

We can offer our clients an alternative to having a physical event by creating a virtual conference platform.  The virtual conference will allow delegates to be actively involved in a secure online environment from anywhere in the world – 24/7.

Our platforms are totally accessible, fully interactive and customizable so that your brand is visual throughout the experience.  We can pre-record sessions, have live Q&A’s, hold group chats, share links, hold spaces for sponsors, and have virtual shops to promote merchandise.

Virtual conferences have huge benefits and are available at a fraction of the cost of a live conference

Our virtual conferences offer an enriching event experience with delegates, making them able to interact, debate and participate in online forums, chat rooms, as well as having on demand ‘pre-recorded’ seminars available.

Top benefits

  • AccessibilityMulti language, on demand, mobile platforms, available 24 hours.
  • InteractiveIndividual or group chats, voice, text, video links, search function.
  • SustainableReduced travel – CO2 consumption – reducing your companies carbon footprint; Paper, plastic and organic matter waste generated at real events will be removed.
  • CostThis platform is far more cost-effective than a live event and allows people to attend that may not ordinarily be able to.

If you wish to learn more about our virtual conference platforms or are planning an event in the future, contact my team on 01797223626 we would love to hear from you.

Welcome to a ‘Dynamic’ virtual world..

Virtual Networking Lounge, Group chat
Virtual Networking lounge, group chats

The current global situation that we all find ourselves immersed in doesn’t need explaining – these are truly exceptional times, and no-one can predict how this extraordinary time in history will continue.

However, at Dynamic Events, we believe that extraordinary times provide the opportunity and challenge to reflect on what is truly important and create positive solutions to enable our clients to continue their global conversations.

We all know that live events will return and can never be completely replaced, but until that time, we are looking to harness all the amazing technology that continues to connect us and allow enriching engagement, even when we can not be together.

The virtual event creates an environment that can bring teams and wider networks together – whether through delivering powerful presentations, facilitating group discussions, providing a platform for face-to-face interaction or engaging participants in an array of social, wellbeing or team building activities.

The team at Dynamic Events are spending time with each client to devise an immersive and experiential platform to provide real solutions to replace live events.

The possibilities to engage are only restricted by our creativity and imagination. At Dynamic we have been doing this in the live event space for 20 years – the Dynamic virtual world is an extension of our teams’ desire and passion to innovate and deliver.

We would love to talk to you about how we can support you.

Find out more out our virtual conference solutions here

Call our team now on +44 (0)1797 223 626 or email [email protected]