Tim is an internet-savvy 35-year old who lives in London.
Next month, he's planning to fly to Colorado USA, to attend a conference.
In days gone by, the answer might have been "to learn about new things in his field", or perhaps "to find inspiration and motivation", or "to hear a particular speaker".
But in this age of live-streaming, online learning, Skype meetings and TED talks, Tim can find all the information and inspiration he needs online.
Tim's main reason for attending in person is...? Networking.
Networking is now the number 1 reason why delegates attend conferences.
This is vital information for the event organiser. It means that the main drawcard is not the content, the venue or the band playing at the gala dinner... it's the opportunity to network with fellow delegates and speakers. This is what your marketing message needs to be.
So how do you make those opportunities happen? Do you herd the delegates into a room, call it a "networking session" and leave them to it? What are you doing to help delegates get to know each other?
For their sake, and yours (we'll come back to this in a bit), you need to form these delegates into a community.
When a delegate registers for your event, offer him the option to "join the community". Have an opt-in tickbox. Those that chose to are directed to (here you can get creative) a forum in an app or browser, a Facebook group, a Whatsapp group, or some other platform that allows conversation. We like the forum idea best, as you can create pre-set topics to encourage conversation.
(It's important that someone moderates these platforms, and deletes or discourages spam or off-topic posts)
How about these forum topics:
- Getting there - Q&A about the location, public transport, travel buddies, share-a-ride
- A thread for each speaker/topic - discussion of what will be covered, ideas around the theme, etc
- Things to do in the area - tours and tips for pre/post conference travel
- Ask the Organiser - delegates seeking info they didn't find on the event website
and later, during the actual event:
- Conference Day 1 - any problems? what was the highlight for you?
- Conference Day 2 - any problems? what was the highlight for you?
- Meeting requests - if you don't have an official appointment book system, folks can arrange to meet here.
and after the conference:
- Feedback - what did you love?
- Feedback - what disappointed you?
- Follow-ups - a place for delegates to continue discussion, arrange meetings
- NEXT! - announcement of next year's event, or some other event you organise that would attract a similar audience
See what we did there?
Not only have we created a community who are chatting to each other even before they arrive, but you've been able to answer questions, address any issues, get great "sound bites" for social media marketing and a captive audience to whom you can punt your next event. And you've made networking easy. Fantastic job!
A few times lately, an event organiser has told us that they have an online registration system.
Turns out they just have an online form.
They are getting only the tip of the iceberg.
Make sure you get it all! :)
Here's what we mean by that...
We often get asked.. "Is this mail spam?".. "How do I know if it's a phishing attempt?"
Here's what to look for:
Also, look out for letter substitution or swapping... for example, an email from "First Nat1onal Bank" ... or ... "Miçrosoft". Or Goolge.
We've been busy making magic!
They say that a software system is never finished.
And we agree.
Every month, we add something, improve something, or develop a whole new system.
We've been working on:
Have a look at what we've been up to lately.
Blind Review is standard practice for abstracts submitted for consideration to academic conferences.
This means no human being interferes with the process of allocating abstracts to reviewers, and no reviewer sees the identify of the author when he scores the paper.
It's completely impartial.
But in reality... it doesn't always work like that.
- Abstract topics can be so specialised that someone needs to oversee who is selected as a reviewer.
- And sometimes there's a Bossy Professor who is a bit of a control freak and wants to oversee everything.
- Or the conference has previously used a system that wasn't "blind", and is not used to the protocol.
We call it "Seeing Review" (our little joke).
It allows a Review Administrator to allocate abstracts to a specific reviewer - the one they feel is best suited. But still without seeing the author's identity.
Here's a little diagram showing Blind vs Seeing mode...