Updated: Aug 4, 2020
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has significantly affected businesses and most of the world’s events have been canceled, postponed, or shifted online with mixed results.
The South China Morning Post has started to roll out virtual events in Hong Kong. In this article, I am going to have a closer look at how the SCMP team manages its virtual video conferences and live streams.
Invitations to join the event online
No matter if it is an online or in-person event, invitations should be personal and the registration process should be as easy as possible to increase RSVP rates. This can be done by sending out personal emails to each guest with the option to register by clicking a button that links to personalized RSVP form.
SCMP chose to invite their guests through emails as well, and guests could request an invitation by registering a simple online form.
Here is the link to their landing page: “Covid-19 And The Economy“
There are many ways to embed a registration form into an event website. You can use a simple survey tool, form editor, or a more sophisticated guest management solution to collect data. A simple form like SurveyMonkey, Typeform and Google forms is relatively easy to set-up and cost-effective, while a guest management solution can utilize more features, such as event email campaign management, check-in and other guest management features.
SCMP chose to use Google forms. While it does the job of collecting data, it definitely lacks further guest management features for event planners in the backend. I was a bit surprised to be confronted with Google forms, especially since a lot of effort has been put into landing page branding and invitation email. Once I filled the Google form, SCMP reviewed my application before sending me the confirmation email. This most likely is a manual process for the event team. The confirmation email included a link for guests to join the virtual event through the online meeting tool Webex.
From the participant point of view, the registration process was straightforward and fast. However, the Google form definitely felt like a design break of the registration flow and more like a backup solution to collect data. Interactive data collection tools like Typeform or customized Zkipster RSVP forms could improve the experience, the latter would also automate the review and confirmation email workflow for event planners.
The Virtual Meeting solution
Webex has been around for a long-time and provides all basic features that most virtual meeting solutions provide, including Webinar software providers such as Webinarjam and to some extend Zoom. The interface of Webex is quite simple without too many options to customize or add one’s own branding, however, it did run stable and has most things an event organizer needs to launch a virtual conference. It has features such as:
- Private / public events
- Q&A features
- Live polling
- Guests chat room
- File sharing
- Join anonymous
One thing I particularly like about Webex is that it has a mobile application for guests to join virtual events through smartphones and tablets. It is very convenient for office workers to multi-task while attending the online conference.
If you want to learn more about other webinar tools, we have introduced 5 most popular webinar solutions in our previous article “5 Webinar Software Solutions For Virtual Events”, hopefully, you could find one that is suitable for your next virtual event.
Professional camera set up
I believe quite a few event organizers are still new to the concept of a virtual conference and it often comes down to a professional camera set-up including lighting and high-quality audio. SCMP picked a professional camera crew and used multiple cameras to capture different angles of the speakers. This also included switching the screen to show event intros and event banners, while the overall backdrop was kept relatively simple.
The set-up of a panel discussion with a professional multi-camera set-up definitely has benefits for event planners and helps to keep its main focus on the speakers.
Another feature of Webex that I think was quite convenient for the event organizer, is the feedback form feature. After the event was finished, a feedback form opened automatically. This significantly improves the response rate since guests are still in front of the computer or their mobile phones and can fill it out instantly instead of getting an email reminder.
Recorded video and reports
Last but not least, SCMP launched its to-date largest virtual China Conference earlier on 14-15 May 2020 and they claimed it had over 2000 participants. I did not attend that conference, but I received their email to purchase the report incl. the full recording. They offered a discount for new guests which I think is a clever idea. A virtual event already reduces production cost, yet, the event report and recorded sessions can generate additional revenue and allows guests to watch later if they did not have time earlier. This monetization strategy is worth considering if the content provided keeps staying relevant. If it does not generate sales, organizers could consider offering it for free in exchange for contact details to build up their lead database and audience.
Virtual Event Services for your next event
Contact us if you are planning a virtual event, which requires event invitations & registration forms, professional cameras, video production on-site and live streams as well as Webinar software or Q&A and live polling solutions.