A virtual event planner?

Yes! Virtual event planners are now a thing! A new job proficiency has formed during COVID-19. If you want to have an experience that comes really close to a live event, you will need to work together with professionals.
Meetingbox has been working with event agencies for over 20 years, and now that we are hosting virtual events on our platform we needed to ask some important questions.

The key to any great event is planning to ensure it goes off smoothly. Below is a checklist of everything you need to consider, when planning a virtual event and how you can make that virtual event perfect with the Meetingbox platform.

Before the event

Determine your event type
- What are your goals? 
- Who is your target audience? 
- Determine your attendees

The first question to ask is what type of event you want. Then you’ll need to ask: What do you want the results to be of this event? Once you’ve defined the type of event and what you want to achieve, now you know who you’ll want to target. Who are you targeting and why? Now that you know your audience, you can figure out who to invite. 

Develop a virtual event concept
- Invite team members
- Set account roles

First, participate in some creative brainstorming to think about what your concept will be. Then do market research. Find out what other people with similar goals did for similar events they held. Once you’ve brainstormed and done your due diligence, it’s time to create a theme. Finally, as a way to visualize your event and bring it to fruition, create a vision board.

Create the virtual event budget
- Determine income
- Track expenses
- Have an emergency fund
- Compare estimated vs. actual expenses
- Stay up to date

Track your virtual event’s income and expenses. In case of any unexpected disruptions that arise, you’ll also want to have an emergency fund.  As you estimate your expenses for the event and you start spending money, it also helps to compare your estimates expenses to your actual expenses. The Meetingbox Cash Flow feature gives you the ability to do this. Once you’ve determined all these figures, ensure you stay up to date on your spending and income. 

Follow a plan
- Plan your content
- Set up registration
- Create a timeline
- Set expectations

Set up an event plan and put it into action. The first element is to plan your content for the event.  Then plan your online registration format.  After that, you can turn to build your event planning team. This will include event planners, meeting facilitators, and IT specialists to assist in setting up the meeting itself.
Once you have your team it’s time to create a timeline of all event-related tasks, prioritized appropriately, with accompanying deadlines. With your timeline set up, you can now assign roles with expectations for your team members.

Consider the logistics and format of your event
- Pick a date/time
- Set up your webinar
- Live stream
- Webchat
- Panels and Forums

Pick a date and time that will work for the majority of your attendees.  Set up your webinar. A webinar is the best format for a virtual event — your attendees can simply tune in from their computers and listen using a speaker. Also, consider how you plan to livestream the event. 
Who will monitor your web chat during the event to log attendee questions? How do you plan to have any presenters or panellists interact with attendees? 

Create the events’ look and feel
- Brand your event
- Custom branded Homescreen
- Branded Logos and colours
- Briefing on custom designs, if needed

Take into consideration how you want your virtual event to look. By using Meetingbox, you can combine your webinar, live stream, chats and panels into one platform. You can also create a virtual event 3D animated environment, linked with our event management features for a one-of-a-kind, streamlined event experience.

Determine A/V, technology and production needs
- Eventregistration
- Eventwebsite
- Do you want a custom domain for the website and event?
- Mobile optimization
- Multi-langue content
- Create embed forms & reports
- Set onboarding phase for your team
Define needed integrations
- Consider your attendees’ needs
- Remember security concerns
- Focus on features

Most Events require an attendee registration, make sure this is on point and the event website covers all your needs. You might need multi-language content and have to set up embed forms and reports.
You should set an onboarding phase into your planning to give your production team time to learn and test the tools, for example how to enable chats, how to host a meeting, etc.  Make sure that the event manager and the production manager are in contact and communicating regularly on both of their needs. Additionally, check if Meetingbox has all the integrations you need. If not the Meetingbox development team can work with you on options. Consider the IT needs of your attendees and make the experience as easy as possible from a usability standpoint. Remember to take security into account — concerns such as GDPR and enterprise security are a must for you to consider. Focus on providing the best features for your attendees, as you can make your virtual event as engaging as a live one. Give your attendees a chat feature to encourage dialogue between attendees, presenters, and meeting organizers. 

Create your virtual venue
- Custom styles
- Pick room designs from templates or get a custom design
- Icon positions
- Actions, menu, animations
- Open iframe
- Or open in new tab

Creating your virtual venue is great fun, together with your team you can either pick designs from our template library or get custom designs made. Define where actions should be set, by choosing the position of the icons. Actions, such as videos or webinars can either be opened in the venue via iframe, or open externally in a new tab.

Analytics and reporting
- Enable analytics integration
- Set reporting and analytics
- Define custom reporting
- Chose website traffic analytics

Track registration data, such as the number of people who registered or checked in to the event. Get data on your event performance like event registrations, check-ins, app downloads and more. Create custom reports on your event activities, and use the data for further actions. Get reports on lead generation from exhibitor booths, visits, downloads or from sharing session interactions.

Be proactive about content and development
- Select the right speakers
- Check their credentials 
- Find the right entertainment
- Connect all content contributors with the production team

It’s important to be proactive in your content planning and development. Select topics, speakers, and presentations that align with your attendees’ needs and will provide maximum value for them. Do market research on what your competitors and others in your industry are doing in this area — who is speaking at other events? Have you heard positive reviews of speakers you can then book for yours? Check your speakers’ credentials. You should also find the right entertainment for your event. Find an act that matches your audience and the theme of the event.

Find sponsors
- Sell your virtual event
- Research sponsors
- Make a list 
- Create sponsorship packages

Sponsors an important part of your event, so you should put a special focus on them. Also, make sure to do research to find the right sponsors who are appropriate for your industry. Once you’ve done this research, create a list of viable sponsors. You can then create a sponsorship package for each sponsor extolling the benefits of sponsorship before reaching out to them. 

- Make an event slogan
- Make an online presence
- Create a mailing list, schedule the dispatch
- Enable email tracking

Create a marketing plan to determine how you’ll conduct outreach for attendees. Then create your event name. Your event name should be short, catchy, and descriptive. Finally, create an online presence for your event. This includes a website landing page, registration site, and social media accounts if necessary.

Two months before the event

Create your agenda
- Set up the sessions
- Format your content
- Create gamification, live polls and Q&As

Within two months of the event, you should have your agenda fully mapped out and the floorplan of the various rooms should be set.  You’ll also want to have your event content in the right format, ready to present. You’ll also need to promote your event using the online channels you’ve built up. Send out invitations to your target audience. Look for promotional opportunities (guest blog posts, social media content, email newsletters) to see where you can create interest in your event.
Create interesting and engaging features such as live polls, quizzes, online games etc.

- Integrated ticketing through Eventbrite
- Use Stripe API
- Connect sessions

Sell tickets to the event, process payments, and issue tickets from within the platform.
Create a mobile app
- Single app or
- Multi event app
- QR Code and Scan
- Multi language
- Custom app
- Offline mode
- Choose features
- App store

When creating a mobile event app you can choose between single app, which is available for one event or a multi event app, which means you have one app with subcategories according to each event. Access the app by entering the unique event code on the login screen or scanning the generated event QR code. Enter the event information in all languages. Currently we offer German and English as standard languages. Custom apps need a custom account at the app stores and let you upload a personal app Icon. The offline mode enables attendees to access content from the app without an internet connection.

One month before the event

- Confirm date and times
- Request payments
- Virtual command center
- Digitally distribute materials
- Establish a dress code
- Set up a virtual communication system
- Plan a run through

One month from the event date, reach out to all attendees, sponsors, and vendors with a meeting reminder to confirm the event date and times. Make sure that any pre-event payments are made — you don’t want any last-minute surprises. Handle all your bookkeeping prior to the event so you can focus on execution rather than financial issues. Establish a virtual command center — get your entire staff using the same mobile event app as a communication tool to keep everyone organized. Digitally distribute all event information to all involved parties. Ensure you establish a dress code and communicate that to presenters.

Establish a virtual communication system that allows your entire team to connect throughout the event on a consistent basis. Once you’ve accomplished all the above tasks, plan a final run-through to test your team. Hold a test event to train the staff. 

One to two weeks before the event

- Review final details
- Address expectations

One to two weeks before the event, schedule a final run-through with your staff to review all final details. This should include a review of everyone’s roles and responsibilities as well as how to get in touch with everyone. You’ll also want to address expectations for the event. Make sure everyone understands the overarching goals of the event as well as their own personal goals. 

The day before the event

- Run final tests
- Confirm all agenda times
- Create a final task matrix of all event-related tasks

The day before is the time to run final tests on all IT systems and event functions. You should also reach out to all participants to confirm all agenda times. Make sure everyone understands when they’ll be due to participate. You can then use these final tests to create a final task matrix that includes all event-related tasks. This will serve as a handy reference guide or “cheat sheet” for event staff during the event. 

During the event

- Have fun
- Start the recording(s)
- Be comfortable
- Know your team
- Check-in with attendees
- Conduct live polls
- Gather event feedback

Once the event is running, remember to have fun. When the presentations have begun, don’t forget to start recording at the appropriate times, so you can make the event highlights available to those who couldn’t attend. For the event itself, make sure you have a comfortable seat you won’t mind sitting in for an extended period of time. Also, have all your communication tools at hand in case any of your team members reaches out. You can consult with attendees to make sure all of them made it “inside” the event. Finally, once the presentations wrap up you can gather attendee feedback on their experience.

After the event

- Close your event, so people cannot access it anymore
- Export your event as JSON file (entire event / granular options)
- Go through the Meetingbox reporting and analysis
- Review the connections you made
- Review your feedback
- Send follow up emails and thank you notes
- Be organized
- Update your cash flow
- Follow up with sponsors
- Check your progress on your goals
- Debrief your entire staff

Once the event has ended, go through the reporting and analysis provided by Meetingbox. This can tell you many valuable insights such as who was active during the event as well as who was inactive. Review the connections you made and follow up with them. Review attendee feedback to tease out potential improvements as well as to see what your major successes were. Don’t forget to thank your presenters and attendees with follow-up emails and thank you notes expressing your gratitude for their participation. Be organized as you gather all event data. Carefully store all reporting and analysis so you’ll have it to generate reports later or review for future events. Update your budget once all numbers on income and expenses are in.
Use this time to settle any unpaid bills from the event — you don’t want these clogging your books going forward. You should reach out to your sponsors not only to thank them but to share your data from the event.

The final word on planning a virtual event

By following the steps listed above, you’ll be sure to have a winning event that brings value to your audience while helping you get closer to your goals. Meetingbox provides you with a platform that can address all your meeting planning needs. From the time you have the idea for the meeting up until the time you’ve pulled it off, Meetingbox can give you the expertise and resources you need to make it a success. For more on how our platform can help, contact us today!