Since the beginning of the pandemic, independent home party companies have tried to determine how they were going to continue their businesses. Some manufacturers were concerned about the survival of our sector because we actually go into people’s homes.
Necessity is the mother of invention and the independent home party sector knew that in order to survive we had to evolve, which led us to explore the idea of conducting virtual pleasure parties.
There’s no question that the introduction of the Zoom platform made transitioning to virtual parties easier. Everyone in the industry is using it for everything from company meetings to product training sessions and even trade shows. Zoom is easily acquired and accessed, which helps to streamline the process. Although the virtual platform is readily available, conducting the virtual party itself brought a whole new set of challenges that did not exist in a live, face-to-face party.
Here are a few challenges we face when converting from in-home, face-to-face parties to virtual on-screen parties. We have to change our set-up process to best communicate with our guests. There are several things we need to take into consideration, such as camera placement, lighting, sound, answering questions, showing product, purchasing, time management and finally, preparation.
Camera placement and good sound is extremely important so the viewer can clearly see the functionality and design of the products and the presenter. Also, make sure there is sufficient lighting for the viewer. It can be hard to see both the presenter and the product if it is too dark. Investing in a ring light can ensure proper illumination for a better outcome. Also, having a space that does not have echoing background sounds and investing in a good microphone would be helpful.
Most party plan owners are a one-person show or may not have a helper present when it comes to answering live inquiries during the presentation. This can cause the interruption of flow by having to read the questions from chat. To streamline the process, hiring a helper — either live or on the virtual platform — would make the process more efficient and effective.
In a live party, we pre-select items for showing and demonstrating. Those products can be changed on a dime depending on the flow of the guests’ conversations about sex and toy usage. A virtual party does not allow for that flexibility. The presenter is only showing and demonstrating products that are pre-selected. In addition, it is more effective for the presenter to assign numbers to each pre-selected item. This will streamline the purchases.
The onus is on the presenter/party plan owner to create a purchasing system that works well for them. Keep in mind that the process is completely different from the purchasing process at a live party. In a live party, guests are taken in a private area to complete their purchases; whereas in a virtual party, it is hard to develop a discreet and confidential space to have them place their order. In a virtual situation, a private chatroom could be used to place an order; or if using Facebook Live, the guest could be directed to FB messenger to place orders. These are just a couple of suggestions. Time management is very important when preparing and conducting an in-home pleasure party. It starts from packing a demonstration kit to closing out from the last order. It takes time to determine what order to show items and how they will be discussed. Fielding questions is also included in the time management process. When conducting a virtual party, the same things are included, however, the prep time may be shorter, but knowing what will be shown and having an idea of what may be asked by the guests takes time and patience. The preparation of both setups is crucial for a great virtual party.
The preparation process includes selecting the right mix of products to appeal to a majority of the viewers. It is imperative that the presenter be very familiar with the functionality of each product prior to the virtual party. Make sure that the items are fully charged, loaded with fresh batteries, everything is easily accessed and ready to work. There is not much difference in preparing for an in-home party or a virtual party when it comes to prep.
The pleasure products industry, as a whole, is resilient and ever-evolving. The independent home party sector has always taken its cues from the industry at large and modified the rules to make them work for their customers. The independent home party owner is resourceful and creative in developing our parties to fit the current situation. We will continue to shape-shift as the market requires, where there’s a will there’s always a way.
An Inside Look at the Home Party Business in a Pandemic by Tamara Payton Bell & Kim Varner originally appeared in XBIZ