Early Access: Why You Should Open Virtual Events Early


Vitor Domingos and Matt Leighton

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Certain event management platforms like Accelevents allow event planners to “open” virtual events to their attendees earlier than the actual event start time. This creates a chance for attendees to start interacting with your event platform before the real action begins!

On our platform, the pre-event access is open 30 minutes before any event begins by default. Determining when you want your event to open is important. If it’s an event that just has sessions that people watch and no networking features, it’s okay if people join around 30 minutes before its start. That said, if you want attendees to connect, or if your event has more complex features, it may be wise to have its pre-event access set to a longer time frame.

There are several reasons why opening your virtual event early can be an advantage to you as an event planner.

Open early to decrease attendee confusion/questions

When technology is involved, there is always the possibility of user error, no matter how easy to use your event technology is. Before the “go live, it’s best practice for event planners to create a guide for attendees, explaining how to access the event, sessions, and more. Even better, you can allow attendees to familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of the platform ahead of time.

Opening the event early allows them to practice and explore. This will ease attendee stress, decrease the flood of questions on Day One of the event to a trickle, and provide an overall better attendee experience. Moreover, attendees can get familiar with the platform and agenda to know which sessions to add to their calendars and avoid scheduling conflicts.

Event planners can leverage features to broadcast messages on your event for everyone to see, such as Lobby Feeds and Info Desks. You can use these to inform your attendees of important information before the event begins.

Open early to increase attendee engagement

As an event planner, you can create “early bird” gamification challenges that allow your attendees to get points if they are one of the first few attendees to enter the event.

In addition, chatting is always helpful for your attendees to mingle with the people and the atmosphere around a virtual event! Allowing attendees to use the chat feature and network with other attendees early on gives them a sense of community that they’re accustomed to from live events.

If your event has a lobby feature, make sure you use it! Many times you'll find lobbies related to communities or interests that your attendees will identify with. These are a great way to allow attendees to meet other people that are as excited about being there as they are!

Open early to permit browsing the event ecosystem

If an event opens earlier, attendees will be more prepared for the sessions up ahead. They'll be able to pre-register for them in order to highlight what they want to attend.

Often, sessions and exhibitors also have downloadable content that accompanies them, such as eBooks, white papers, presentation decks, etc. If an event is opened earlier, attendees will be able to download these earlier and prepare for the sessions up ahead!

Each event will allow users to build their own profile, where they'll be able to input a wide array of information that will help them define their event persona, leading to better leads as other attendees will be seeing this information on their profile upon consultation.

Opening your event earlier guarantees that the attendee has enough time to build their own custom profile before it actually begins.

Open early to give more “love” to sponsors and exhibitors

Opening your event earlier will also allow attendees to browse through the exhibitor booths and sponsor links. This will improve lead generation, and you can even use this in order to attract more partnerships in this area. Let your exhibitors and sponsors know that the event platform will open in advance of the actual event, and exhibitors will know to “staff their booth” so that they can be available for any questions or conversations from potential leads.

Open early, generate excitement, better outcomes all around

Virtual events are becoming more and more the standard in the event industry. Just like attendees used to line up for early admission into an event, so do virtual attendees. Give them a chance to “wander the halls” of your event, and you’ll allow the excitement to build, equip attendees with valuable session information, and delight your sponsors and exhibitors with a little extra time with their prospective customers. It’s truly a win-win for everyone!

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