This is a small selection of some of the online tools you might want to consider using to support the delivery of your event, including ways to register your attendees and ticket your event, platforms to deliver your event on, and different ways to evaluate your event via online surveys. These examples are to give insight into some of the regularly used tools within the heritage sector to help you explore what’s available as a starting point, but should not be seen as endorsements or recommendations.
There are a variety of different online event platforms on the market, which all suit different styles and formats of events. Here are a few of the options that have been used a lot across the heritage, arts, and cultural sectors. There are a selection of different price points to suit different budgets.
This platform is low cost, familiar to lots of people, and good for events that include audience participation or discussion. Zoom Meetings can also be used to split people into smaller breakout groups for discussions, although conversations in breakout groups can’t be recorded. There’s a chat box where people can type questions and comments, and audience members can also opt to switch on their cameras and microphones to speak. Zoom Meetings would be good for AGMs, networking events, discussions, school assemblies, and community meetings: https://zoom.us/pricing
This platform is similar to Zoom Meetings, but designed for more of a one-way communication to an audience. On Zoom Webinar, only the hosts and speakers are shown on screen, and the audience are viewers instead of active participants. However, there is the option to have a chat box for conversation, and a separate Q&A box so it’s easy for a host or speaker to see the questions from the audience instead of them being mixed in with the general conversation. As audience members are more passive participants on Zoom Webinar, breakout groups aren’t an option. Zoom Webinar would be good for talks, presentations, briefings, and conferences with single-track sessions: https://zoom.us/pricing
This platform aims to offer an online equivalent of an in-person event or conference by having a number of different areas for your audience to engage with. There is a Main Stage area for keynote talks, a Sessions area where multiple sessions can be held at a time, a Networking area where audience members are randomly paired up to have one-to-one conversations, and an Expo area for virtual exhibitions or resources. Attendees can ‘hop in’ and out of these areas as often as they’d like and even between sessions that are running simultaneously. Hopin offers customisation across all its different pricing plans as well as integrations with a wide variety of tools and apps. Hopin would be good for conferences that feature concurrent sessions and a space for partners or sponsors to exhibit: https://hopin.com/pricing
This platform is similar to Hopin in that it is designed to support events with multiple sessions at a time, and has options to support with sponsor or exhibitor activity. Airmeet has one-to-one networking alongside a Lounge area where people can gather on virtual tables to network in small groups. One feature that Airmeet has that Hopin does not is that every session has a ‘backstage’ area for speakers to prepare in before the sessions begin. Airmeet would be good for conferences that feature concurrent sessions and for networking events that require both one-to-one and group discussions. https://www.airmeet.com/hub/pricing/
Webex is an online platform similar to Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinar. Webex Meetings has functionality to run events with a speaker who can upload their PowerPoints into Webex to give a presentation, and the audience can participate through features such as chat, Q&A, polling, and by turning their microphones and cameras on to interactive with others. It can also be used for conversations without presentations. There are also breakout rooms available so that the audience can split into smaller groups for discussions. Webex Events hosts the webinar function where you can hold a presentation but participants can only communicate with the trainer through a chat box or Q&A function, as with Zoom Webinar. Webex would be good for training sessions, meetings, and talks. https://www.webex.com/pricing/index.html
Some heritage organisations may already have ticketing systems or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in place that can be used for people to book a ticket to an event. If you don’t have a system in place already, then here are some simple options available to you so that you can collect data from people signing up to an event.
Eventbrite is a simple to use website that allows you to create an event page with all the details attendees would need to know, as well as housing a registration form/checkout in the same place. You can also embed the checkout onto your own website so that your audience remain on your site instead of being directed to an external page. Eventbrite also offers a variety of reports, marketing functionality and some basic analytics. Eventbrite has several different plans available but is always free to use if your event is also free. If you are selling paid tickets, you can either absorb the fees and pay them out of your ticketing revenue, or pass them along to your ticket buyers. You can find out more about the different plans and the pricing at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/organizer/pricing/
If your event is free or you’re not looking to charge anything at the point of sign-up, then something simple like Google Forms could be a good option for you to use to collect data on. Google Forms collates all your data into a Google Sheet so you can access it all in one place once people start to sign up for your event. https://www.google.co.uk/forms/about/
Some event platforms, such as Zoom, Hopin, and Airmeet, all offer registration options within their pricing plans, so if you opt to use one of these online platforms to host your event on, you also have the option of collecting with event sign-ups directly via the platform too.
Once you’ve delivered an online event, it’s useful to gather feedback from your audience so that you can find out what worked well for them and what could be improved, so that you can think about those things for future events. Here are a few options for online tools that can support you in putting together surveys or feedback forms and storing that data for future use.
SurveyMonkey is an online website that supports you to design surveys and collect data. It offers simple to use templates and multiple question formats to enable you to build surveys easily. SurveyMonkey can display your data in charts and graphs for simple analysis and offers lots of different features for customisation and filtering. SurveyMonkey is a paid-for tool, with a few different pricing plans available: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/pricing/
As well as being used for event registration, Google Forms could also be used to gather feedback following an event. The analytics and question formats on offer aren’t as sophisticated as something like SurveyMonkey, but it could be a low cost solution for gathering event insight from your audiences if you are just starting out with online events or have a simple survey format that doesn’t need a lot of additional features to support it. https://www.google.co.uk/forms/about/
Some event platforms also have their own analytics and reports available, which can give you an idea of what your audience engaged with the most during your event, and how they rated the experience overall. These can be useful to gather data about the event specifically but often aren’t customisable and tend to be included only in the highest-cost pricing plans.
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Please attribute as: "Tools to support your online event (2022) by Danielle Patrick supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0