The demand for virtual events (and later hybrid events) saw some really horrible attempts at virtual tradeshow platforms.
Most of them were complicated to use, requiring software downloads and installations, registrations and settings, and had so many features that the average exhibitor/visit was left confused. From personal experience, I was thwarted in my attempts to visit a tradeshow due to installation errors, and virus warnings.
Clearly there was a need for something simpler.
Something that would run in a normal browser, with no fuss.
Something that was mobile-responsive.
Something light and easy that still got the job done.
And that's where Showcase It Online was born.
It runs in any browser, no setup procedure, no downloads.
Just click on it.
Here's what the press had to say.
You want to have a look?
Here are the first 2 events to have used the platform:
We are currently in the middle of a covid-19 lockdown, and all real-life events have been cancelled or postponed.
Many of our clients are looking at pivoting to virtual events.
And that requires some new skills and in fact, a new role - that of the virtual event coordinator.
She is 2 parts techie, 1 part designer, 1 part idea factory
So, what does a Virtual Event Coordinator do?
Here is an outline...
- Planning of virtual event according to client needs
- Collection of pre-recorded material from speakers
- Advice to speakers on setup and hardware, if presenting live
- Collection of sponsor logos, URLs, etc
Design and Hosting
- Design of splash screens for intro, interval, thank you, etc (sponsor logos)
- Design of background for speakers
- Design of online programme if needed
- Secure hosting of pre-recorded content
Support and Moderation
- Setup of Zoom, Twilio or other event platform
- Creation of Lobby, Networking Area, Breakout rooms
- Creation of intro tutorial on how to use the platform
- Moderator to handle Q&A, polls, and provide online support
- Monitor hashtags on social media during the event
Live Entertainment inserts
- Music and Comedy intervals
- Real-time illustrator
Health and Wellbeing inserts
- live stretch break
- morning yoga class
- motivational talk/video
Incentives to engage
- Run competitions to win swag bags or other prizes
- Sms and mail reminders about start of sessions
EXBO provides delegate registration, abstract management, e-posters and websites to conference organisers.
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.