Author ADMIN  |  Date published 16 November 2020

Risk or Not to Risk - The new risks of Virtual

We are so used to understanding the risks of live events and in person safety and assessment, but what do we need to consider in the virtual world?

For those of us that have been thrust into the new way of delivering our events in the virtual world, we sometimes forget about applying a crisis management plan specific to virtual events as our heads are still stuck in traditional live event mode.

But be under no illusion, your virtual event needs to be treated much the same way as an in-person event.  There are still risks involved with hosting your event online, which many of us are learning ‘on the fly’.

So, first things first, how healthy is your set-up? Do you have a set of processes and practices designed to protect your networks, devices and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access?  If you don’t then you may need to review and get some cyber security in place.

Your client may ask about event risk insurance, is there a policy available for virtual events? Yes is the answer.  Insurance policies for virtual events should be written with online events in mind, ensuring that they provide full coverage for the specific risks that apply to these occasions; anything from speaker no show to transmission failure.

Unknowingly you will already be protecting yourself against certain risks by having the following in place which are standard features of any platform (and which we take for granted); these include having your guests registering for the event, only sharing the link to the online event once an attendee is registered and having a password for attendees to access the event. Simple but effective risk protections.

The next layer of avoiding risk is looking closely at the platform’s bells and whistles – after all the devil is in the detail!  Make an informed choice and compare the security features of a few platforms, look at the functionality of the platform carefully and ask to see a demo before committing. Once you have chosen your platform and devoured the chosen providers MSA (very important! – read the small print!!) you can then start to build your contingency plan.

Have a think about all the elements that affect a live in-person event.  Imagine that the venue for your event is now the platform you are using. Get into that mindset that this is still an event, that there are potential challenges, security breaches and rogue delegates to contend with!

Work with your platform provider and event stakeholders to establish a contingency plan together and that there are clear lines of communication about how to handle each eventuality.

  • What happens if the platform encounters a transmission failure – how do we respond?
  • What happens if there is a brand damaging, disruptive attendee on the site – how do we block or remove them from the site?
  • What happens if there is a no-show from a speaker/entertainer/technical issue – what is the back-up plan?
  • What staffing should we have to support the event – how does a virtual helpdesk work?
  • What’s a reliable back up option if the platform has a catastrophic failure (hacking or major technical fault) – can your event be streamed elsewhere? Have you prepared and set this fail-safe up. What is the additional cost to your client for having this option?

Each platform or event stakeholder reacts differently to these types of situations, and some may not have any SLA’s in place, so it is really important to work collaboratively with everyone to ensure that even if the worst happens the show can go on. You are not trying to scare your clients into not holding the event online, look at it as if you are showing your experience and your planning skills to ensure they never have failure.

Risk is a scary word. We are all going to be exposed to it in one shape or form and as virtual & hybrid events evolve, so will our risk prevention strategies.  Clear communication is by far one of the key elements that underpins all that we do in events and is our biggest saviour.

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