By Mahider Tadesse
The COVID-19 crisis has turned the event-planning industry on its head. But the pandemic’s grip on the world doesn’t change the reality that certain businesses will need to continue operating. We understand the event-planning industry’s need to find a way to plan important events in the safest possible manner.
That’s why we put together this short guide—to discuss the various solutions we’ve come across that we hope will help you with planning and hosting virtual events. We know you need to keep your events on track while ensuring the safety of you and your guests, and we want to extend a helping hand.
The Nuances of Digital Interpretation
Normally, we at Hallpax provide a variety of interpretation and translation services when our clients host a live event in Africa. There are many tools that we’ve used for these events for years, but finding virtual event-hosting platforms that utilized similar tools was a challenge.
The African Union Commission has six main languages: English, French, Arabic, Portugese, Spanish, and Kiswahili. This means that many of our events must support translation and interpretation services for all of these languages, and possibly more. Unfortunately, many virtual meeting platforms that are commonly used by businesses are not built with simultaneous interpretation in mind. To confront this challenge, we took a deep dive into various virtual event platforms to find the right ones for our clients.
We’ve been utilizing Kudo for many of our clients’ events; it lets you host a meeting in any language and is one of the best systems for virtual interpretation. One of the biggest challenges we’ve found using Kudo is that it has no options for simultaneous sessions and attendee interaction. The event occurs in one virtual event room and there is no way for attendees to interact outside of it. Also, there are no extra rooms to have multiple presentations occuring at once, which can be a dealbreaker for those looking to host large events. Another issue comes from the one time fee, which can be very expensive. There is a discounted price for subscription users who sign up for a whole year, but that simply isn’t worth the cost if you’re only going to use it once. Hallpax does maintain a subscription to Kudo that we maintain and use for our clients, passing on the savings to them.
Simulating the Feel of a Live Event
While many people understand that live events are simply not possible during the pandemic, it’s still difficult to maintain the same level of engagement in a virtual setting, especially for those who enjoy the face-to-face interaction of a live event. While this was a large hurdle for us to overcome as we began planning virtual events, we knew that it would be a crucial point to address.
The 6Connex virtual event platform is the closest you can get to the feel of a live event. The platform boasts several meeting rooms, networking lounges, and an exhibition floor and can be designed to look and feel like any destination in the world. 6Connex has Google Translate built into its chat feature, which makes networking among attendees a breeze. Attendees can send messages to each other to connect later once they’re offline. It can also host a VIP lounge for speakers or other attendees who may prefer to network privately. Exhibitors can upload as many videos or files as needed for their virtual booth or presentations. These files are loaded into a virtual “briefcase” to be retrieved at any time.
While the Google Translate chat is a great feature, 6Connex does not have a simultaneous interpretation feature that is very important for large events in a mult-lingual continent. It also has a high subscription cost that can be difficult for companies looking to host one event per year.
However, because of our experience with both Kudo and 6Connex, we’re able to integrate the best parts of both platforms together for our clients. That means we can use the simultaneous interpretation feature that Kudo has on our 6Connex platform, to take advantage of the multiple room and attendee messaging features. Hallpax holds a subscription for both 6Connex and Kudo to offer this integration to our clients.
As with Kudo, the main challenge for event hosts is 6Connex’s expensive subscription cost. Hallpax holds a subscription to 6Connex that we use for our clients’ events as needed.
Time Zones: Finding the Sweet Spot
For live events, planning around a time zone has never been an issue. Every attendee would be on location in Africa within the same time zone, making presentations and exhibitions simple and easy to plan. For virtual events, this instantly becomes much trickier.
The timing of your virtual events has to be carefully planned around the different time zones of your attendees. West Africa is +1 GMT and East Africa is +3 GMT. Based on our own experience with virtual events, the afternoon seems to be the ideal time to host an event in Africa. This allows those in North America time to wake up and get ready but also catches those in Europe and Asia well before sundown.
Finding the right time to host your virtual event depends on your attendees’ locations and the content of your event and should be carefully considered before finalizing your schedule.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected every industry around the globe. While in-person events may be stalled for a few more months, we know that not every event can wait. The goal of virtual events during the pandemic is to maintain some normalcy for your plans while protecting you and your attendees.
Our passion for events motivates us to provide the knowledge and experience you need to host an event with confidence. Contact us to learn more about the services we provide at Hallpax and to get started on your next virtual event.