In March 2020, Robin Robin’s 13th Annual IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp–one of the IT industry’s largest events, was shut down.
Just three weeks before opening night, amid rising fears of the coronavirus, cities across the country were being ordered to shut down.
Closely monitoring the situation, Robins saw events cancel all over the world. The day sports teams canceled; Robins knew she could not do her event in a live setting.
Robins and her Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT) team quickly switched gears, turning her live event into a virtual one.
But with that came a multitude of problems.
While Robins has been doing events for over 15 years, including hosting hundreds of virtual events, she’d never done one of this magnitude. Among the problems the team needed to solve was finding software to run the event. Their requirements included the ability to have:
- Thousands of attendees log in at the same time.
- Live streaming to go off without a hitch.
- Interactive functionality and customizable exhibitor booths for their vendors and sponsors to maximize attendee experience.
- A fully immersive platform, customizable with their brand so that people would feel energized, stay tuned in, and create raving fans who wanted to come back for more.
- A way for attendees to interact and communicate with each other throughout that enhanced the event rather than detract from it.
- Multiple breakout sessions running at the same time.
They also required a way to easily manage everything without inundating their team.
What they found on the market was disappointing, to say the least.
“Virtual event software wasn’t popular prior to March 2020,” Jeff Johnson, President of Big Red Media, said. “So, when we looked at the software that was available, it was ideas put together by people who write software, not people who run events.”
With only six weeks to shift their massive event to a virtual one, the team chose a virtual platform to work with, discovering first-hand the problems with the software available in the marketplace.
“We learned a ton about how horrible software is when we ran our virtual bootcamp,” Johnson said. “While we made the software run well for our event, we had to put in hundreds of hours behind the scenes to make that happen. Plus, when we had multiple thousands of people logging in, it completely crashed the software.”
During this time, virtual events were skyrocketing, making virtual event software a hot item.
As the TMT team spoke with MSPs in their community, they found that the mediocre software designed by people who aren’t familiar with running events was now coupled with high-pressure sales tactics because of the hot demand.
The horror stories from others in the IT community about their experiences with virtual platforms were rolling in. For example, one virtual event software listed a price of $15,000 on their website when to do an event that matched the website’s description would cost between $55,000 and $60,000 when all is said and done.
“We found there was a lot of bait and switch on pricing and questionable sales tactics,” Johnson said. “We heard of someone signing a deal, thinking it was going to be a $20,000 – $25,000 virtual event and it ended up costing them $60,000, an amount they didn’t have budgeted.”
Price gouging is happening on necessary services too. Companies are reporting that streaming for these virtual events is not covered in the initial amount which means you pay additional money to the software company you hire for streaming. Where streaming for 800 to 1000 people should only cost between $200 to $300, perhaps $500 for high-quality streaming, companies are being charged outrageous fees that far exceed this amount.
“For a 2-day event with 7 break-out sessions, companies were quoted rates of $189,000 just for live-streaming,” Johnson said.
Frustrated by what they found, and forecasting that virtual events would be popular and necessary for some time, they tasked their software development team to build a virtual event platform as a part of their custom-developed membership, management, and content delivery platform—a platform used and tested by thousands of businesses over the last 12 years.
Not surprisingly, people outside of their membership were struggling with finding a platform to host their virtual events too. With frustration running high, people didn’t know what to do. It seemed impossible to find a high-quality, virtual event platform designed by people who understood events that also offered a complete, easy-to-use setup at honest and fair pricing.
Like many great ideas, Big Red Virtual was born out of frustration and necessity for something better.
“We built Big Red for ourselves,” Johnson said. “We built the software for virtual events because we didn’t know how long we were going to need it. But people desperately needed this to survive. They have big events—with a lot of vendors and attendees. It is a big moneymaker for them and they didn’t know what they were going to do. And as soon as they started seeing our virtual platform and how easy it was to use, they started asking us if they could use it for their events.”
With a simple-to-use, fully customizable platform that includes easy, hands-off exhibitor booth set up, advanced on-demand reporting tools, and more, designed by an event company, it has saved companies time, frustration, and money while allowing them to continue holding their events. Plus, with their simple, straight-forward pricing model, companies no longer worry about paying exorbitant fees. You know EXACTLY what your cost will be before you sign on the dotted line. There are no surprise fees and you can even use your own streaming service free.
To help the IT Service Industry, Big Red Virtual also set up a referral program for MSPs and IT Service Providers to help them provide support to their clients that hold events.
To get your FREE report on “The 32 Questions You Must Ask ANY Virtual Event Vendor Before Signing On The Dotted Line” or to learn more about how you can become a paid referral partner, visit www.BigRedVirtual.com