Fixed venue capacities? Nope. Sky high equipment costs? Not anymore. Colossal budgets? Forget about it. Going virtual comes with access to a worldwide audience, slashed costs, and the flexibility and power to use events as your growth lever. But you’d need this virtual event management blueprint to get started or plan for success next time.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to deliver world-class virtual events.
- What is virtual event management?
- How to manage virtual events?
- Step 1: Planning
- Step 2: Logistics
- Step 3: Promotion
- Step 4: Execution
- Step 5: Follow-up
- What are the best virtual event management tools and platforms?
Let’s get started!
What is virtual event management?
Virtual event management covers planning, creating, and maintaining online events like virtual conferences, networking sessions, and virtual trade shows. It includes everything from event ideation through on-the-day experiences to attendee follow-up.
Although in-person events and virtual event management are similar, they have several important differences, including technology, team roles, and reporting.
How to manage virtual events?
We’ve broken down the entire virtual event management journey into five steps: Planning, Logistics, Promotion, Execution, and Follow-up. It’s the same basic event planning process as in-person events, but with some important tweaks.)
Let’s take a look at how you bring a virtual event to life.
Step 1: Planning
Set goals and objectives
Effective goals flow from company objectives, so they vary depending on the types of online events you run.
Here are a few examples:
- Boost brand reach/awareness by Y%
- Generate X% more revenue than the previous year
- Establishing Thought Leadership
Here’s our five-step process to establish the right event goals and objectives for your next event.
Determine event budget
Before gathering quotes, take a high-level look at your budget and goals. Work out what you’re trying to achieve, and then calculate what you can afford to spend.
Here’s a quick formula to set your target value.
Once you have a figure to aim for, build an exhaustive budget. Here’s a roundup of your largest expenses:
- Virtual event platform: Find virtual event management software that aligns with the types of experience you want to deliver.
- Event Team: Account for all the internal staff you’ll need before, during, and after the event. Add in any external consultants and contractors, too.
- Marketing: What will it cost to promote your event to your target audience? Consider the design, advertising, press, and outreach costs.
- Speaker fees: Good speakers cost money. Ring fence some of your budget for one or more speakers.
- Participant benefits: Include all the swag you plan to give attendees like clothing, vouchers, and gifts.
- Miscellaneous: All events have surprises. Create a contingency budget for unexpected expenses.
For more detail, check out our guide on virtual event budgeting.
Recruit your event team
What roles you need will vary depending on the types of virtual events you run. For example, an intimate roundtable will need far fewer people than a worldwide multi-day conference.
While we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all team, here are a few essential roles:
- Event manager: Think of your manager as the conductor. They lead your online events, coordinate your team, and keep your virtual events running.
- Moderator: Your moderator is the one hosting virtual events, engaging with your audience, and acting as the face of the event.
- Attendee relations team: These are your folks on the ground. Their job’s to interact with attendees, encourage virtual event engagement, and solve attendee problems.
- Support team: They’re your behind-the-scenes team. They help attendees and speakers troubleshoot problems.
- Event producer/technologist: They install your event technology and keep everything operational.
Build your virtual event management checklist
Step 2: Logistics
Select the best virtual event management platform
Good technology elevates events. But event professionals often pick the wrong systems and end up fighting with complex, unintuitive virtual event platforms.
When you’re comparing your options, make sure it performs well in these four areas:
- Attendee engagement: Does your virtual event management software make every moment engaging, immersive, and unmissable? Can you host and manage fun activities like virtual photo booths?
- Event experiences: Can you create one-of-a-kind branded experiences to get attendees excited?
- Event management: Does it give your team the tools they need to plan, create, and host better experiences? Does virtual event platform allow you to execute unique virtual networking ideas?
- Analytics and insights: Can you tap into the right data and unleash the power of personalization?
Want platform recommendations? Jump down to our virtual event management platform comparison.
Event landing page
Create an event “home base” with a landing page. Use it to share important information like speakers, event tracks, and ticket availability.
Step 3: Promotion
Once you’ve designed your event and published its landing page, it’s time to build buzz.
Here are a few event promotion ideas to get you started:
- Direct mail: If you have a mailing list of ideal attendees, take your message to them with a direct mail campaign.
- Organic and paid social: Use previews and promos to engage your owned social audience. If you have the budget, consider promoting posts and content to reach new attendees.
- Paid search: Depending on keyword volumes, PPC campaigns can attract a lot of new traffic.
- Partnerships: Ask speakers to share your event with their audience. Make it as easy for them as possible by designing graphics and writing copy for emails and social media.
For some more promotion inspiration, check out 20 Ways to Market & Promote Your Virtual Event.
Step 4: Execution
It’s go-time! The day of your event is finally here. Open the (virtual) doors and welcome your attendees.
Different events have different event tracks, sessions, and workshops, so we can’t give you the perfect agenda to run. Instead, here are some high-level things to think about.
- Deliver outstanding event experiences: Attendees want memorable virtual event experiences. Use every feature in your virtual event management platform to deliver a superb experience.
- Support your speakers: Speakers are usually the main draw at virtual events. Look after them and support them wherever possible. That way, they can focus on delivering a killer performance.
- Engage attendees: Don’t leave attendees to look after themselves. Send out your relations team to engage with people. Generate discussions, guide attendees to event experiences, and solve problems before they snowball.
Step 5: Follow-Up
Post-event follow-ups and nurturing
Great events deliver value during and after the event. So when the curtain drops on your final session, what are you going to do?
The best practice is to design segmented follow-up campaigns. How you slice and dice your attendees is up to you, but some popular event ideas include:
- Nurture campaigns for attendees: Send people event highlights — pre-recorded sessions, talk summaries, session resources, and so on.
- High-touch sales sequences for prospects: Let sales take the lead on high-value prospects. Aim for a one-on-one meeting.
- Relationship-building emails for customers: Don’t neglect current customers. Offer session recordings, training sessions, and tailored advice.
Make use of event content wherever possible.
Measure event performance
Your virtual event management software should generate enough data to assess your performance against goals.
Broadly, you can track event impact using two measurable objectives:
- Brand awareness and engagement: Registrations, attendees, pre-event performance, in-event performance, and post-event performance.
- Pipeline and revenue: Sourced pipeline, influenced pipeline, accelerated pipeline, retention pipeline, and sponsorship revenue.
Also, you might want to consider the “WOW” factor. Think of this as attendee delight. While there’s no direct formula to calculate WOW, Kylie Davis, General Manager at events agency EMC3, has some great advice:
Learn more about performance management with our Return on Events (RoE) framework.
Collect attendee feedback
Quality virtual event software will generate a tons of data, but data needs context. Weave attendee surveys into your post-event follow-up to add nuance.
Ask a mix of open-ended questions for detailed feedback and closed questions for quantitative data.
Here are a few examples.
- How can we improve our next event?
- What did you like most about the event?
- What were your expectations before attending our event?
- Would you recommend this event to your peers?
- Did our event meet your expectations?
- Was it easy to register for our event?
Prove (and communicate) sponsor ROI
Most businesses sponsor events to support their sales and marketing goals. To keep your partners happy (and returning for future events), prove and communicate your sponsor ROI.
Consider reporting on headcount, influencer attendance/outreach, social media mentions, attendee survey data (based on satisfaction, pre/post awareness, etc.), new/old website visitors, revenues generated, donations, leads, and sales.
What is the best virtual event management software?
Trusted by top brands like Comcast and PwC, Airmeet is one of the best virtual event platforms on the market.
Backed by its event experience cloud, you can elevate every part of your virtual events. Here are a few things to look out for:
- AirStudio: Create one-of-a-kind branded experiences that stand out, and get attendees excited.
- AX360: Increase engagement from the beginning to the end of every experience, and watch your brand grow.
- AirControl: Leverage the tools to plan, create, and host better experiences of any size or type.
- AirIntel: Tap into all the right data points to curate the right content and the right communication for every attendee.
Airmeet’s got your back from event launch (hello, engaging networking opportunities) to amazing event execution (did someone say virtual booths and one-of-a-kind experiences?) and effective event follow-ups (trigger automatic emails with Zapier and share pre-recorded sessions).
vFairs is one of the oldest event platforms on the market. It supports virtual and hybrid events, including some innovative features like 3D virtual spaces and breakout sessions.
However, users on G2 have criticized its setup process and complained that its user interface could be more intuitive.
Additionally, those looking to deliver large-scale successful virtual events may struggle as vFair limits events to 10,000 people.
Webex Events (formerly Socio) is another option for marketers and event organizers. The platform is bound to improve under Webex’s ownership, but some users are unhappy with the tool’s interface and pricing.
Another popular platform, Hubilio prioritizes engagement and attendee experience (we like that). However, some users on G2 have complained about unintuitive dashboards and backend systems. For under-pressure events teams, this is the last thing you need.
Touted as the easiest virtual event platform, HeySummit is a great choice for small businesses, tiny teams, and solopreneurs. With pricing plans starting at $300 a year, it’s tough to find a cheaper option, too.
However, as a budget option, HeySummit does have some drawbacks. The biggest is that it doesn’t actually power your live video. Instead, it piggybacks on services like Toasty, Skype, and Airmeet.
Hopin was founded in 2019 and rose in popularity during the pandemic. Unlike some legacy event platforms that have been adapted for live and hybrid events, Hopin feels like a product built for digital natives. Supporting up to 100,000 attendees, it’s a solid choice for large events. Unfortunately, its quick development means some industry-standard features are missing. Although they’re shipping updates quickly, it lags behind other options.
What started out as a ticketing platform for backyard barbecues has evolved into a bona-fide enterprise event management platform. The biggest advantage of Eventbrite is reach. By running events on Eventbrite you can tap into the world’s largest event marketplace, reaching new potential attendees, partners, and customers.
Splash is all about scale and ease of use. They promise the ease of an SME product, but with Fortune 500 capabilities. It has everything you’d expect, including support for in-person, live, and hybrid events. However, some users have complained about inconsistent syncing. Others have said the event builder can feel complicated to non-designers.
What is virtual event planning?
Virtual event planning is the process of organizing and coordinating online events, conferences, or meetings that take place in a digital environment instead of a physical location. It involves tasks such as scheduling, content creation, technology setup, attendee engagement, and overall management of the event to ensure a seamless and engaging virtual experience for participants.
What are the jobs to do as a virtual event manager?
As a virtual event manager, your tasks include planning, technology setup, content creation & management, attendee management, event promotion & marketing, attendee support, engagement facilitation, event execution, analytics, and post-event follow-up.
How can I organize a virtual event?
To organize a virtual event, start by defining your event objectives and identifying your target audience. Choose a virtual event platform that suits your needs, considering factors like attendee capacity, features, and pricing. Plan your event schedule, determining the duration, session topics, and any interactive elements you want to include.
How to become a virtual event planner/manager?
To become a virtual event planner, focus on developing organizational and communication skills. Familiarize yourself with virtual event platforms and gain experience through volunteering or interning at virtual events. Build a portfolio to showcase your expertise, network with industry professionals, and join relevant associations. Market your services and offer virtual event planning solutions to clients. By following these steps, you can establish yourself as a skilled virtual event planner.
We’ve got you covered
Virtual events can cultivate connections, earn customer loyalty, and grow revenue. But great virtual events don’t happen by accident.
If you want your team to deliver engaging event experiences that differentiate your business from the competition, they need the best virtual event management platform.
And that means Airmeet.
Whether you’re delivering an intimate executive roundtable with a dozen high-profile guests or a worldwide in-person conference with 50,000 attendees, Airmeet will help you deliver an exceptional experience.
Try Airmeet for your next event.