We’ve watched it play out consistently this year. As companies around the globe attempt to throw their annual conferences in the midst of a pandemic, most face-to-face or live coordinators have zero experience when it comes to bringing their events online. 2020 welcomes the rise of virtual events, virtual conferences, and with it, the Virtual Event Planner.
This past weekend I had the painful experience of watching a national organization within the medical field attempt to run a 3-day conference that was plagued with technical difficulties. Attendees couldn’t sign-on, were unable to create new passwords, and unable to acquire necessary codes to receive their continuing education credits. And in some cases, virtual event attendees couldn’t even see the presentation despite the room’s live chat still operating.
There is nothing quite like the horror of watching hundreds of messages rolling through your platform about a poor experience on event day.
What happened with this conference, however, isn’t from incompetence. This style of virtual event management is new to many of us. And despite all conferences having unforeseen obstacles on event day, there is one position that we should all take the time to respect and become familiar with: Virtual Event Planners
What is a Virtual Event Planner?
A virtual event planner is a professional who oversees the logistics, technology, and seamless execution of online events. Virtual events include such things as meetings, webinars, conferences, networking events, and virtual trade shows.
Virtual Event Planner Job Descriptions:
To get a better sense of what companies expect out of their planners, event managers, and coordinators, you only need to look at the most recent job openings.
Online Event Planner Jobs on Upwork:
“As the Part-Time Virtual Event Planner – Work from Home you will work up to 10 hours per week and be responsible for planning and managing virtual events for 20-50 attendees. The ideal candidate will have exceptional project management and communication skills, a heart for client support and satisfaction, and embrace our core values.
+Schedule virtual events that are exciting for members and attractive to prospects.
+Help plan and execute the events: brainstorm ideas, develop event plan, and timeline.
+Create digital content to generate interest, excitement, and registrations.
+Set up and host technical aspects of Livestream broadcasts/webinars and moderate comments
+Stay up-to-date on company promotions, products, and events
+Uphold a strict level of confidentiality and discretion
+Additional administrative projects as needed
+Weekly calls with the lead point of contact to debrief key accomplishment and concerns”
Virtual Event Manager Position for Bloomberg:
“Bloomberg is looking for a virtual event manager to join the Global Event Team. In this position, the candidate will be responsible for managing the successful planning, strategy, execution, and measurement of Bloomberg’s virtual events program. The role will work closely with event planners and marketing managers to ensure successful delivery of both live and on-demand webinars, as well as hybrid in-person/virtual events.
We will trust you to:
+Manage and execute Bloomberg’s global virtual event portfolio, including ownership of event production, platform training and reporting.
+Be proficient in the virtual event landscape, aware of current trends, vendors and best practices for delivering virtual events.
+Provide live event support (in conjunction with vendor-provided support) during events as a Bloomberg virtual events subject matter expert.
+Collaborate with cross-functional stakeholders such as A/V, Facilities, Information Systems, Design team, etc.
+Ensure compliance to budget, expenses and reconciliation in coordination with accounts payable.
+Implement and maintain training schedules for the global event team, marketing managers and business stakeholders.
+Design and document virtual event technical/operational training guides for platform, support and execution protocols.
+Quickly troubleshoot and resolve platform issues before, during and after an event, including the maintenance of a platform incident log.
+Maintain list of platform features/enhancements for future consideration and implementation.
+Recommend and institute operational changes to increase efficiency and quality and/or decrease costs.”
Virtual Event Contractor with Ivalua:
“As our Events Manager, you will lead digital events planning and execution to drive sales pipeline for the Americas region. You’ll have solid, hands-on experience hosting or managing 3rd-party virtual and in-person Enterprise SaaS events.
You’re a force of proposition and skilled at crafting creative event experiences to support business needs. You are a communicative and highly collaborative individual with a strong work ethic. You are business- and results-oriented
Role & Responsibilities
+As the Virtual Events Manager, Americas, you will:
+Lead our world-class virtual yearly customer and brand flagship event (1,000 attendees, May 2020), in close collaboration with the Sales and Marketing teams
+Manage the 3rd-party events planning and execution (virtual or in-person events when/if they resume)
+Support the regional Sales teams with hosting creative, targeted, regional or industry-specific virtual events
+Collaborate with the global demand gen team for the lead handling process, ensuring appropriate lead qualification and follow up by the Sales team
+Timing: 6-month contract, Nov 2020-April 2021”
5 Key Responsibilities of a Virtual Event Planner and Manager
Whether they call themselves a manager, coordinator, or planner, the person or team overseeing the virtual event is responsible for the following:
Responsibility #1) Online Event Platform Education
They are responsible for the education of your company and attendees on how to use your virtual conference platform or web application. Presenters, vendors, and virtual event attendees should know how to use the platform to solve their problems. This includes instructions on how to use various devices with the platform.
Responsibility #2) Virtual Event Technology and Equipment
The virtual planner is technologically savvy. A skilled virtual event coordinator can troubleshoot the backend of the virtual event platform, software and app hiccups, as well as internet troubles.
Responsibility #3) Managing Virtual Event Logistics and Scheduling
Responsibility #3 is about managing your online event’s logistics. That means knowing exactly what parts of a conference are happening at what time. Planners need to know when and who to check-in with prior to their presentations, and assure that attendees have directions and links to get to their destination.
In combination with Responsibility #2, knowing both the logistics and the technological components of a virtual event allows for the event planner to troubleshoot the flow of your online conference. For example, if a speaker happens to lose internet connection before going live, a virtual event planner will likely have a backup plan in place. This means tapping another presenter in, notifying attendees and keeping your event moving smoothly.
Responsibility #4) Managing and Delivering Event Details at Each Step
Your online event manager is in charge of organizing and distributing the event details. This includes welcome series emails, reminders, the sign-up process, properly formatting and inputting each presentation’s description. And it means that after the event, everyone is thanked for their time and reviews are collected for improving next year’s event.
Responsibility #5) Planning and Managing an Event That Encourages Sales Leads
Let’s face it, a large number of events are not just about being educated by world-class speakers. Your virtual event is about connecting people, solving your customers problems, building trust and authority within your industry. And at the end of the day, it’s about a return on your investment via qualified sales and marketing leads. And your event planner’s execution is a big part of that success.
Virtual Event Planning Services
Let’s suppose you’re convinced that utilizing a virtual event manager for your next conference is important. You’re probably wondering how you find these online event professionals.
(Recommended) Utilize a Virtual Event Platform that Offers Event Management Services as Part of Your Package
Finding the right virtual event planner is oftentimes best via a Virtual Events Platform. Event managers that work for your virtual platform of choice make great coordinators for several reasons:
- They already know how the virtual platform or app works, including its capabilities and limitations.
- Have access to their own software engineers and their in-house network should they encounter any technical difficulties or customization requests on your behalf.
- They have a vested interest in your event being managed well as your experience impacts the entire company.
3 Virtual Events Platform Companies that Offer Event Planning:
- Event Manager
- Filling out and setting up Event registration
- Attendee management and coordination
- Agenda management
- Speaker management and orientation
- Logistics & information pages set up in the platform
- Attendance tracking and data reporting
- Live Video Production
- Complete Campaign Build and Design (includes web platform and mobile app design, content management, content personalization and targeting, emails and in-app notifications
Event management features include:
- Event Manager
- Operations Management
- Online Marketing
- Live Event Support
- Post-Event Processing
- Design strategic plan (including KPIs)
- Development of event environment
- Event logistics
- Data measurement
- Support services also include live event support, virtual trainings, 24/7 support
To see more information related to event platforms, check out an in-depth virtual event platform comparison.
Search Out Freelancers
If you’re in the market for virtual event planners, you’ve probably noticed the increasing number of job ads for these professionals. Just typing in the keyword, “virtual event planner” brings up jobs from Indeed, LinkedIn, Upwork, and more.
Advantages of hiring a freelance virtual event planner:
- Freelancers, depending on their experience level, can come with less overhead cost to you and your event.
- Freelancers often work flexible hours, allowing you to readily request their assistance at any time.
- The flexibility you get with hiring freelance event planners allows you to easily test out the quality of their work without hiring a full-time employee..
If you’re in the market to hire a freelancer, here are some spaces to find them:
- Upwork Virtual Event Planners
- Social Media Platforms
Be Your Own Virtual Event Planner: An Online Event Planning Template/Checklist To Keep You Organized
If you or your staff has the capacity and the talent, you might consider planning your virtual event yourself. Front-loading the planning and management process will ultimately make the event day and the post event to-do list a better experience. A lot of companies that move forward in planning their own events break up the process into three parts:
Prior to your online event be sure to have the following in place:
- Develop a timeline/calendar for the assembly of your event
- Select the technology, tools, platforms, and apps to be used for your event
- Identify speakers, volunteers, and sponsors for your event
- Develop a plan for recording and distributing recording after the event
- Find engaging and knowledgeable speakers
- Develop materials for presenters (timelines, responsibilities, surveys, how-to guides for the platform, contact and troubleshooting information)
- Develop materials for attendees (timelines, rooms, engagement instructions, surveys, resources, how-to guides, contact and troubleshooting information)
- Event promotion (develop marketing materials and share via both organic and paid channels)
- Set up important email drips for reminders and instructions
- Develop a registration/sign-up process for your virtual event
- Establish the cost and tiers of attendance
- Double and triple check that all technology that you can control is ready prior to the event running
- Contingency plan in place for any unforeseen illnesses or technology issues
- Create codes of conduct
During the event:
- Keep tabs on speakers, attendees, and the function of the technology
- Final email reminders sent out to attendees
- Be responsive and monitor all questions/comments coming in on the day of your event
- Remind speakers to wait a moment for attendees to join their sessions
- Be sure to check-in and network with the people that are making your event possible (vendors, speakers, your tech crew)
- Gather quote snippets, photos, and videos to assist in next year’s promotion
- Make sure everyone has the live contact information
- Have a way to remind attendees of each event about other resources, gamifications, and vendors regularly
- Survey your attendees and your speakers for their experiences and how the event could be improved
- Be thankful – send out thank you notes and emails to everyone who was a part of the event
- Be sure to connect with people who were unable to attend
- Distribute recordings
Are you ready to host and plan your next online event?
Hopefully this post filled you in on this ever-growing position and industry. We might be a little biased but we do sincerely recommend utilizing a virtual event planner in conjunction with a virtual event platform or app. This is especially true if you’re planning for large-scale events.
Your attendees will appreciate their user experience and the ability to maneuver through your event the same way they used to during in-person events. And you’ll appreciate the intuitive design and setup process, as well as the customer service you experience during your event.
SpotMe Review from a Senior Manager at Indeed: