How to Decide on Hosting for Conferences and Festivals
We live in an era when face-to-face gatherings no longer mean breathing the same air.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity to get people together.
Conferences, seminars, music festivals and the like continue to experiment with moving their events into digital spaces. After being one of the first major events to have to cancel its gathering in 2020, SXSW – a Media Temple client – made the shift to an entirely online conference for 2021. And many, many event promoters are making the same shift.
Web hosting for a conference or festival always has a challenge with peaks and valleys. Over the cycle of a year, there are points that drive massive traffic, like registration opening and the event itself. But there are also lulls that see very little traffic. Now, those peaks potentially reach even higher, with worldwide live audiences and an increased role for sites and apps in the experience.
Even if you’re nowhere near the scale of SXSW, making smart hosting choices will still be the foundation of running an awesome event.
Let’s examine the basics.
What Your Event Fans and Attendees Need from Your Website
You need to keep attendees happy and engaged. That means:
- Rock-solid digital experiences, regardless of how many people are attending.
- Safe and secure methods to pay for tickets and get them quickly, even if there’s huge demand.
- High-quality access to events across all devices and platforms.
- Rapid notifications of changes to schedules, panels, or shows.
Meeting your attendees’ needs enhances your reputation as a high-quality promoter and increases the chances they’ll recommend the event to others.
When it comes to fast, reliable, secure, scalable hosting you have two main choices: a public cloud like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or a more traditional approach through a VPS or dedicated server. Large events will typically benefit from an AWS approach, but a VPS can still work depending on your specific needs.
What You Need from Your Music Festival or Conference Website Hosting
It’s important to have control of capacity, demand, and costs:
- Confidence that your website can hold up, even under immense strain from large numbers of attendees.
- Effective cost control, so you’re only paying for the server and bandwidth resources you need.
- Easy site and hosting configuration so you can quickly make changes based on attendee experiences or other factors.
In short, you want a hosting solution that’s fast and simple to manage. The right hosting choice lets you focus on the event itself, which is hectic enough as it is.
Web Hosting that Balances Costs and Demands for Your Events
You have several choices of web hosting, so you can choose services that meet your budget.
AWS Hosting for Events
The massive, on-demand scale of AWS makes it a great fit for the unpredictability of live events.
Advantages of AWS hosting include:
- Infinitely scalable services so your website can handle any number of visitors.
- Backups and redundancy for uninterrupted, high-quality experiences.
- Custom-built security to keep data safe.
- On-demand pricing, so you only pay for what you use.
This on-demand pricing model means you pay less during slow periods, while fluidly increasing capacity during your event. It’s important to note that AWS requires some upfront investment to ensure smooth efficiency. So, optimizing your traffic, website, and app requires expert know-how when it comes to configuring cloud environments.
Here lies the drawback: AWS is inherently complex.
That’s the primary reason big conferences and festivals will use an AWS managed service provider like Media Temple in addition to the AWS platform itself. By simplifying your AWS experience, the managed service provider gets you all the benefits of AWS’s high-tech, global infrastructure without entangling you in the weeds of applications, integrations, and engineering.
Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting for Events
If you only host small events without huge numbers of attendees – or run a steady, predictable stream of them year round – then a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server could still be a good choice. These options are likely best if you have simple, straightforward hosting needs and are providing events as a supplement to other parts of your business.
Website Hosting that Scales to Large Numbers of Attendees and Fans
You’ll need to be prepared for different types of traffic spikes:
- Increasing numbers of people wanting to find information or buy tickets as events or acts are announced.
- Attendees accessing the website on the days of popular events, especially streaming video or audio.
When these spikes happen, your web hosting needs to scale flawlessly, providing an excellent experience for everyone involved.
These challenges mirror those of ecommerce retailers who run Black Friday sales or big Super Bowl ad campaigns. So, many of those hosting considerations and preparations apply perfectly to the conference and festival space. A strong web host can leverage its experience with all kinds of hosting scenarios to help determine the best plan for your event’s scaling needs.
AWS or VPS for Traffic Spikes?
- AWS hosting can automatically flex to cope with huge spikes in traffic around the world. Cloud platforms can stretch far beyond the limitations of a single server, so there’s less guesswork needed to determine how much traffic might be too much.
- VPS plans from hosts like Media Temple let you manually adjust your resource allotment, allowing you to scale up if and when it’s needed. However, there are finite limits to individual servers. So, they’re usually best suited for small events or more consistent year-round traffic.
Web Hosting that Allows for Safe and Secure Event Transactions
You need to be able to process ticket and merch sales quickly and securely. Look for web hosting that provides:
- A broad product suite of security services to keep business and user information safe.
- SSL options for robust data encryption and protection from hackers.
- Continual monitoring of your website or app to detect and resolve potential security problems.
- Recovery options if your website goes offline or suffers a data breach.
AWS or VPS for Safety and Security?
Either hosting solution can be thoroughly secured, and Media Temple can help with the process.
- Media Temple offers complete security solutions, available bundled with Managed AWS or on an à la carte basis with VPS.
- We can help you understand the additional security services you’re likely to need.
- Additionally, AWS Managed Hosting is built on a foundation of security and encryption.
Web Hosting That’s Easy to Update and Control
Interacting with your hosting solution doesn’t need to be complicated. You’ve got plenty on your plate planning your event and managing talent relationships. And time is a precious resource when any delay literally means an event can’t happen.
So you don’t want to get stuck in a swamp of technical complexity any time you need to make an update with your hosting. You need fast, easy access so that lets you make updates in moments. And you need the confidence that if an issue arises, you can get accurate, effective answers quickly.
AWS or VPS for Access and Control?
- AWS has an inherent complexity that can be tricky to navigate. Luckily, managed services providers like Media Temple help bridge the gap, with a team assigned to manage the hosting solution around the clock based on your needs and requests.
- VPS solutions are primarily controlled with a classic command-line interface or through a control panel like Plesk or cPanel. The options will likely be familiar to most developers – and if they’re not, Media Temple can help, even handling server optimization for you.
Media Temple is the web hosting provider that can keep up with all your virtual music, seminar, and conference needs. And we’ve hosted sites for some of the biggest conferences and festivals around.
Whatever the size of your event is, our adaptable hosting services give you the safety, scalability, and control you need for your budget.