Here are tips from one successful organizer
BY YOLANDA WEBB
For most of us, virtual events used to be something we only heard about. Never did we expect that this type of technology would be upon us now! Event organizers, like my team and me for the recent Medicare Summit, have now been forced to organize remote events. I think virtual events are here to stay in the insurance industry, but they will never completely replace a live event. At the end of the day, human interaction will always get better results. That said, here are some tips I gleaned on how to get the most from the virtual event planning experience.
We Must not ignore the fact that we can never replace in-person human interaction
Since we were pioneers working in the unknown with having to plan one of the industry’s first remote Medicare gatherings, we needed to familiarize ourselves with the basics of virtual events. First up was deciding on the company we’d choose to help us execute the virtual events.
First up was deciding on the company we’d choose to help us execute the virtual event.
VIRTUAL EVENT VENDOR
When deciding on the event vendor, there were several items we considered. Namely, cost, value and the company’s ability to help us achieve the goals.
Next we looked at the technology. Was it user friendly or was it complicated? If I needed a degree just to be an attendee, that was a deal breaker. Of course, we also considered the kinds of hands-on support the company offered.
When picking a virtual company promises must be fulfilled from the very beginning to the very end — with no hidden charges.
My biggest take away was the vendor must assign a full-time hands-on support person or project manager. This is non-negotiable. Without the vendors sustained and dedicated support, a virtual event can be incredibly challenging. The best advice is to interview several vendors and ask for references
To be honest, the list of questions for your vendor can go on and on. If you take your knowledge of past successful events and apply it to a virtual event, it will steer you toward the questions you need to ask the vendor. In fact, you should lean heavily on your past event experience.
Good virtual events lean on earned experience with live events
My own experience for the past nine years has been very fruitful in carrying out live events. Because of that, the recent Medicare Summit team knew what it needed to do to be successful.
There were several items that were clear and not to be ignored. The revenue would be less, given the fact that in a virtual event some physical activities could not be carried out. Creativity was the order of the day, but not just the fun activities. Speakers, certifications and CE courses needed to be considered, without becoming a nightmare.
When looking at all our options we had to consider this: can this event convince attendees to buy, join or plan for something they do not do now? Is the content going to be good enough to keep everyone interested? Are the sessions relevant to attendees’ business? And, will they want to learn more?
VIRTUAL IS HERE TO STAY
Do I believe that our future in virtual technology is here to stay? Of course — and moving at such a fast pace can only bring more improvements. One thing is certain: virtual technology is not going away and we all will get better at making these types of events successful and necessary.
However, we must not ignore the fact that we can never replace in-person human interaction. As friends and colleagues, we all appreciate virtual events, but I have a feeling we will appreciate live events even more when we can be together face-to-face.
YOLANDA WEBB, CHRS, serves on the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) Medicare Advisory Council, NAHU Vision 2025 Task Force and as Inland Empire (IEAHU) Awards Chair and Senior Summit, Founder & Co-Chair. She is the former California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) Corporate Affairs Director. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.