Contingency by design: How virtual and hybrid event planners can plan for the unexpected

Key takeaways

  1. The cost of doing nothing when it comes to anticipating potential disruptions to your virtual and hybrid events can be immense.

  2. Contingency by design is a proactive approach that considers issues such as broadcast downtime, platform downtime, security breaches, and spammers wreaking havoc.

  3. Setting contingency plans is a crucial step for designing virtual or hybrid events, especially if you want to safeguard against worst case scenarios.

  4. With 0% downtime on our clients’ event platforms to date, Dexper is committed to providing the best possible solutions for your enterprise’s flagship virtual or hybrid event.

By creating safeguards that anticipate worst-case scenarios and developing a contingency planning policy statement as well as well-researched plans with thorough recovery strategies, event planners can create successful events under any circumstances.

Your enterprise has a business contingency plan, so what is stopping virtual and hybrid events from having contingency strategies, by design?

Contingency plans as part of the event plan

The cost of doing nothing when it comes to anticipating potential disruptions to your virtual and hybrid events is immense. The on-demand economy has transformed consumer expectations, and event planners must ensure that user experience remains top-notch, even in unexpected circumstances. That’s why continuity of service must be the top priority for event planners. Without such an approach, enterprises risk damaging their brand reputation, alienating their global audience, and losing interest from their (potential) clients. To ensure continuity of user experience, event planners should identify all possible scenarios, both expected and unexpected.

This proactive approach considers scenarios such as broadcast downtime, platform downtime, security breaches, and spammers wreaking havoc. Therefore, it’s important to integrate contingencies as part of the event’s design. Contingency by design is a fundamental step that event planners should take to ensure the success of their virtual and hybrid events. A detailed risk assessment not only identifies potential risks but also outlines the steps to be taken to mitigate these risks.

Potential virtual and hybrid event risks and their solutions

Event planners must recognize and proactively address any potential risks before an event commences, or else risk serious consequences for an enterprise’s global reputation. Here are some of the potential risks associated with virtual and hybrid events, as well as steps that can be taken to effectively mitigate them:

Broadcast downtime

A failing video feed can quickly turn an amazing live event into a disappointment. Broadcasting content via reliable and consistent networks help event planners avoid any potential issues associated with broadcast downtime. To ensure no disruptions, having a contingency plan for your broadcasts is key. When it comes to broadcasting your flagship virtual or hybrid event, Dexper works with backup streams. These second streams run from a different location and will automatically kick in if the main feed stops functioning. We call this the waterfall failover system. This way, the show will go on without any interruption. If you have a track manager, they can ensure each stream is continually monitored, so more drastic measures can be taken when, for instance, your primary broadcasting partner suffers from outage.

Platform downtime

If your platform unexpectedly crashes or becomes unavailable, the last thing you want is to leave your event attendees stranded. Consider using a combination of cloud-based systems and dedicated hosting services. This way, you can quickly deploy a backup platform if needed. Furthermore, make sure your event platform provider has a reliable support team ready and can respond to any issues quickly.

If disaster strikes your event and causes an outage, be prepared with a back-up plan to ensure attendees won’t miss out. Establish a separate environment featuring only the most essential elements that can quickly take on additional traffic in case of emergency. Authenticating users is important, but if authentication fails disable it within this minimal environment so everyone still has access when needed.

Security breaches

Depending on the particulars of your event, Skift Meetings recommends using a combination of security measures such as encryption, password protection, and personal registration links, as well as the option to accept or decline registrations. Furthermore, ensuring the team behind your event is well-versed in data security and privacy practices, as well as in best practices for protecting virtual events from cyber-attacks. Ensuring event security is also important to protect your event from data breaches and other security issues.

Spammers

To protect your events from malicious actors, you need to create an effective spam-blocking strategy that puts the safety and security of your event first. From a code of conduct to be followed by all attendees to automated spammer detection in the live chat, there are a variety of measures you can take to detect and block spam messages. Additionally, having a dedicated team to monitor the activity on your platform can help identify malicious actors quickly and take immediate action if necessary.

Contingency by design in action

Setting contingency plans is a crucial step for distributing virtual or hybrid events. With an effective Plan B in place, you can continue providing uninterrupted service to users even when they’re unable to access websites like major news providers or their personal banking information.

What if the internet goes down during your virtual event?

You have probably heard of CDN’s. A Content Delivery System (CDN) is a networked system of computers containing copies of data, placed at various points in the network to provide high availability and performance to end users. CDNs are used to deliver content such as video, audio, and webpages to users with high performance and reliability. Without a CDN you have to get your content from a server at the other side of the world and that will take time. It makes browsing very unpleasant.

A good CDN set up can provide a reliable broadcast mitigate disruptions, minimize downtime, and prevent any potential broadcast problems. However small, even the world’s most renowned Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) such as Cloudflare, Fastly, or Akamai, have a chance to experience outages. In fact, if you search for “Global CDN outage” you will only find two major cases in the last three years. Global outage is rare. So global outage at a moment you are doing your virtual event is even rarer. Still, it happened to us twice during two different events for the same client. What are the odds?! Luckily, our team noticed the outage swiftly and was able to move the audience to a separate environment with minimal features, reroute all traffic that suffered from that outage to the separate environment and disable authentication on the affected environment. This way, the event experience was kept pleasant and audiences could continue to enjoy the event.

As this example illustrates, it is critical for event planners to create proactive plans to anticipate even the unlikeliest of risks, and ensure that their audiences can still consume the content they need. By doing so, you can ensure that no matter what happens with your vital systems, your attendees will still enjoy engaging and high-quality content experiences that drive business goals.

Final thoughts

Having contingency plans in place is a must for any event producer, and most certainly in the enterprise sphere where the stakes are much higher. The contingency by design approach requires a robust set of tools and techniques to identify, analyze, and mitigate risks associated with virtual and hybrid events. Carried out properly, it will help you respond quickly to unexpected events and ensure that your global audience can still access the content they need, even in the worst of cases. By following the steps outlined above and taking a proactive approach to risk management, you can ensure that your virtual and hybrid events remain secure and continue to advance the brand activations and content experiences for your attendees.

With 0% downtime on our clients’ event platforms to date, Dexper is committed to providing the best possible solutions for your enterprise’s flagship virtual or hybrid event.

We help our clients undertake the necessary planning to stay ahead of risks and create an optimal experience for attendees. With the latest technologies in software, we can provide users with an incredibly smooth and reliable user experience that surpasses all expectations. Enhancing this goes beyond protection measures like pentesting; we have contingency plans ready for whatever arises. And we organize teams onsite and remotely to have backup systems running to ensure seamless operation, no matter what comes your way. 

Sparked your interest?

Through comprehensive contingency planning, we can help you guard against technological and human issues – meaning your event attendees will remain safe and satisfied at all times.