Engaging Virtual Attendees
to expert tips on connecting with an audience that isn't in the room.
Event-management software supplier Aventri announced the company has been beta-testing its Aventri Virtual Event Platform with a number of large clients, and is readying the new solution for a general release in time for the fall event season. The native digital- and hybrid-meeting tool has been developed in-house based on client needs and feedback.
The new platform incorporates streaming and webcasting functionality, explained Aventri chief technology officer Shane Edmonds, similar to popular marketplace tools such as Zoom. "But the most exciting part is the fact that we have it fully integrated into our platform," he added. "This is going to allow our customers to leverage all of the same sort of pre-event management and marketing tools that they have been using for their live events, and seamlessly transition to virtual events. And then, post-COVID, they'll continue to use the same tools for their in-person events and hybrid events -- which we think is a huge opportunity."
Aventri is specifically targeting an aspect of the digital-meetings market that is currently underserved, explained Edmonds: The mid-sized events that fall between the teleconference video calls and the complex, virtual trade-show gatherings. "Nobody is serving the middle," he said.
Aventri's goal was to create a straightforward, easy-to-use digital meeting platform that pulls data from the company's other tools to pivot to a digital format at the flick of a switch.
"It's literally that simple," said Edmonds. "We have a check box that says 'enable virtual event,' which takes all of the data for your existing event and basically delivers it in a virtual platform for the attendee. So all of your sessions that you've set up, all of the speakers, all of your marketing lists that have been set up -- all of that still applies. So you don't have to lift a finger to change any of that, which is really powerful."
Aventri breaks down some of the Virtual Event Platform's primary features as follows:
• Multiple event formats. The platform can accommodate single-session, multitrack or multiday event programs, and can host either a live stream, prerecorded videos or a combination of both. Sessions can be recorded and made available for on-demand viewing as well.
• Customizable features. Planners can use the technology to create personalized welcome messages, incorporate slide annotations, distribute handout documents, manage Q&A sessions and establish both public and private chats during the event. In addition, planners can allow attendees to enable their own video.
• Real-time insights. Aventri can produce real-time reports on session popularity, based on session dwell time and engagement. Reports on registration data, session attendance, marketing data and more can also be created, depending on the other Aventri platform tools being used by the client.
• Security. The platform was developed with security in mind, particularly in response to high-profile issues with platforms such as Zoom. The tool is completely browser-based and doesn't require attendees to download any software. As part of the Aventri platform, it has the same infrastructure and security standards already in place on the company's core events platform -- including the use of regional data centers, full TLS encryption for attendees and more.
The company expects interest in hybrid events to continue even after it is safe to gather in large numbers again. Aventri surveyed 150 of its largest enterprise customers, Edmonds explained, and conducted in-depth focus groups with many of them. "We found that pre-pandemic, 28 percent of our customers were using some kind of virtual-event software," he said, "which in many cases was Zoom. But because a lot of people got caught on their heels and had to cancel events when the pandemic hit, we found that a full 91 percent of our customers plan to use some kind of virtual platform after the pandemic ends. If something happens and you can't meet in person, you want to have the virtual ready to roll."
Additional features, such as the ability to hold one-to-one video meetings within large conferences, will be a top priority to add, Edmonds said, based on customer feedback. Aventri hopes to make the one-to-one functionality available before the end of the year.
The new platform does not detract from the partnerships Aventri announced earlier this year with the virtual-event providers Digitell, Intrado and Evia, Edmonds said. "If anything, it enhances them a little bit because of the extra capabilities we've built into the platform to integrate them better," he said.