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Why "Everything on One Device" Virtual Galas Are A Bad idea

Imagine walking into a benefit auction and while you are registering, the registration clerk asks you:

"Welcome to our event! Could you please hand me your phone for the duration of the event"

Would you hand over your phone?

Of course you wouldn't

There is considerable debate in this “Virtual Live transition” about the different ways to go regarding using one device (livestream and chat on the same device) or two devices (one for watching and one for engaging). 

So instead of asking: "Is this software one-device or two-device?" let's start asking: 

"How do we keep guests engaged and giving more in our virtual events?”

For us, the answer is simple so let's break down the two options:

Option 1 - One Device: Livestream & Chat

When you ask people to open their phone to view the livestream, bid, and donate on their phone, you are effectively asking them to dedicate that ENTIRE device for the ENTIRE event to only watching your face and bidding. Realistically during the event, they are going to be:

  • Getting Instagram/Facebook notifications

  • Getting text messages

  • Getting bored and browsing Reddit

How many times do you see people checking their phone during an in-person gala? Lots right? In fact, you probably checked your phone before you got on stage. The average person checks their phone 52 times per day. So during waking hours that translates to at least one phone check every 15 minutes.

Having your guest miss out on a few minutes of your event maybe isn't a big deal. 

However, there is a bigger risk:

Maybe they will leave and not come back to all.

If they get sucked in by their Facebook notification, and into Facebook, they may get stuck there for the duration of your event. Brutal.

Ideally, wouldn't it be great if they could have the auctioneer speaking to them no matter what app they have open on their phone?

Option 2 - Two Devices: One for the livestream and chat, the other for bidding

When you're at an in-person live gala, and someone checks their phone, they can still hear you in the background. In the same way, having a dedicated device for the livestream will keep them engaged.

In fact, it's actually what people are conditioned to be doing today in their evenings anyway: They have Netflix on their TV, and using their phone during the boring parts on when they get a notification. 

Roughly 88% of Americans use a second device, like a phone or tablet, while watching TV.

So ultimately, you are asking your visitors to do what they are already doing, except you give yourself the ability to control how they engage on both devices.

So as you consider your virtual live event approach, the answer may not always be about streamlining the experience, but about optimizing engagement tools to keep bidders participating.