October 1, 2020 by Lisa Block
The answer, based on my unscientific survey of a dozen association leaders, is a resounding no. Planners are wading through recommendations from colleagues, trusted vendors and online forums to find the best platform for their needs. And it’s a murky and often frustrating experience. While there are many excellent solutions out there, none are “perfect” and many are adding features and improvements on a regular basis. Since most solutions were created post-pandemic, conducting due diligence on how secure the platform is paramount. All the variables and potential add-on costs, makes it difficult to select the right partner.
Numerous association professionals have conducted demos with well over 20 providers! One leading planner I spoke with likened platform sourcing and demonstrations as similar to how some planners sourced hotels for their events. There should be no need for any organization to look at more than five providers in a compressed time period. Instead, investing the time to create an A list of providers allows more time to fully vet your alternatives.
Several association leaders talked about the internal due diligence required in clarifying needs, wish lists and priorities before soliciting demos or proposals. In our former reality, with facilities and vendors that we understood, the options were visible, we knew what questions to ask and had rubrics used to facilitate decision making. In the current environment platform selection can be more challenging; particularly if your team isn’t aligned on options, desired features or internal strategy.
The most interesting answers in my survey were in response to the question “If you could send a message to virtual event platform providers what would it be? What should they focus on going forward”? Here are some of the comments:
Conference professionals are often looking for that magic set of features that solve the networking and expo engagement challenges. From our experience, success in these areas is more dependent on designing for networking and embedding exhibitors/sponsors into the program design.
Many people told me that they ended up going with providers that they knew and trusted or that had been recommended by colleagues. With well over 100 solutions in the market it is difficult to accurately assess competence, viability and customer service. Working with an existing trusted partner on production aspects of the virtual event experience seems to be common for many of the folks I heard from.
Planners are continuing to work at warp speed to develop and deliver meaningful, just in time content and experience and many platform providers are rising to the occasion. We are platform agnostic at VCC but we believe strongly that associations must have a clear vision around their intention and strategy before plunging into platform sourcing.
Filed Under: Event Technology, Experience Design, Hybrid & Virtual
Great article. In my short time of working with vendors, trying to secure the right platform for such varying program agendas (5-day conventions, with so many elements), it’s clear that vendors are working to address needs and are learning and experimenting daily.
Thanks for your insight.
At Digitell, our platform and services may not be perfect, but combining experience and a 10 year seasoned platform together, we are delivering successful virtual events week after week. As we continue to grow our team, we look forward to having conversations with your organization like the ones planners are saying the industry lacks!
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