By Thomas Howie, COO at Evessio
Unlike conferences and exhibitions which rely on engagement through learning and networking, awards are famous for bringing people together in competition and in celebration – something which can be a challenge to honour in a digital environment.
With many organisers looking to make the move into the virtual event space, we asked Thomas Howie, COO at leading awards software supplier Evessio, for his top five tips to create the best online awards experience for their attendees (and sponsors of course!).
- Know your audience
Not all awards are as formal as black tie, however if you work in an industry that is accustomed to a formal ceremony, you’ll need to deliver an experience that meets your audience expectations. To do this you’ll need a seamless, engaging digital experience which is exciting with the feeling of exclusivity.
- Meeting those great expectations
Awards ceremonies are known for their slick, professional style so organisers will need to ensure the technology, its design, user experience (UX) meets your audience expectations from the moment the user lands on your website, how they submit entries, the judging process through the ceremony itself.
Be realistic in your teams’ technical abilities. Technical glitches can be a real turnoff for audiences, judges, entrants and sponsors.
It maybe that you need to select a full-service technology specialist who can be on-hand to ensure the ceremony goes off without a hitch. This may cost more in the short-term but will create a positive memorable experience which attendees will want to return to.
- Awards are a great way to create real value for sponsors
One significant benefit of a digital event is the data insight available for commercial sponsors and partners. Virtual awards ceremonies offer a wealth of new and innovative commercial opportunities combined with some reimaged traditional sponsorships.
Entering into this new online format allows your team to get creative and increasingly more targeted with advertising, promotion and branding throughout your event. Plus, these new opportunities will open your brand up to new potential sponsors brands who focus only on digital marketing and may have previously not wanted to be involved in the physical ceremony.
- Make sure everyone’s a winner
Entering awards is often incredibly time consuming. For those that are not fortunate enough to win, feedback from the judges on their entry is often welcomed and appreciated.
Being transparent about your judging process not only validates your event but also gives kudos to the judges their decision-making.
It is a challenge that many of our clients face both in the live event and virtually and so at Evessio, we’ve developed a new opportunity in our back office for clients to access commentary from judges.
We found that by providing this feedback, nominees will also be able to enhance their future entries – upscaling the quality of future submissions and ultimately provide value to those who have invested time in entering the awards.
- Keeping your audience engaged
The biggest challenge will be to keep your audience engaged for the during of the event, particularly those awards which are running as one long continuous ceremony. Gamification through online polls and voting systems, a musical performance and charity involvement can all work incredibly well at keeping online audiences engaged but a dynamic host will be the key in keeping your attendees tuned in.
As with any awards ceremony, an exceptional presenter cannot only attract an audience to attend but can also keep them engaged throughout. You’ll need to find a presenter who will also have the confidence to take control and ensure proceedings run smoothly in an online environment.