A Flight Attendant Call Button for Virtual Events


On a recent flight, the passenger in front of me pressed the flight attendant call button as we neared cruising altitude.  As I heard the “ding” and saw the light turn on, a light bulb came on in my own head.  The pressing of the call button sends two signals:

  1. “I’m here”
  2. I need assistance (i.e. “Please engage with me”)

Let’s consider how a flight attendant call button can be added to virtual events.

Technical Support

To receive technical support in a virtual event, you need to go find help, usually in the form of a Help Desk.  On an airplane, it’s more efficient for the help to come to you – far simpler than having you get up, disturb the passengers in your row and walk down the aisle.  In a virtual event, you’re often busy viewing sessions, engaging with exhibitors or chatting with fellow attendees. Wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if the help would come to you?

Virtual events could include a “call button” that attendees could click.  Staffers providing technical support at the event would see the attendee added to a queue, along with an audio cue (the “ding”).  Attendees could be provided with the option of including a one-sentence description of their issue, prior to clicking the call button.  From here, support staff would connect directly with the requesting user, to assist them one-on-one.

Engage with Exhibitors

Similar to “technical support finding you,” attendees looking to engage with multiple exhibitors could opt in to invite exhibitors to connect with them.  An “exhibitor call button” could be clicked that would signal to all booth staffers that particular attendees could be contacted.

If an exhibitor engaged with a requesting attendee via private chat, the “call button” would be turned off, until that private chat concluded.  In many ways, this mechanism would be more efficient for attendees, compared to visiting assorted booths and engaging with the staffers in each one.  A more sophisticated call button could allow users to specify which type of exhibitors they’d like to engage with.

Engage with Attendees

Engagement with other attendees is typically done via group chat and private chat.  But how do you know whom you should have 1:1 chats with?  An attendee call button could let others know, “I’m here” and  “engage with me.”

The attendee call button could include a one-sentence description of the user’s interests.  All users who pressed the call button could be listed in a Lounge – and mousing over the users’ profile images could display their names, titles and one-sentence descriptions.  The attendee call button can spur more connections and networking than the typical Networking Lounge.


All too often in virtual events, we “venture out” to find people and information (e.g. exhibitors and attendees). Instead, a simple call button could turn the tables, allowing the people, at least, to come seek you out – and engage.

What do you think – would you use the call button feature  in a virtual event?  Leave a comment below.

2 Responses to A Flight Attendant Call Button for Virtual Events

  1. Stuart Bowen says:

    Very interesting idea – Dennis. I think one of the biggest challenges is to have ‘connect’ people in an event particularly attendee to attendee.

    I work with a company called Learning Times that have an option to include an ‘Ask a Peer’ function. If an attendee from the community has experience with a vendor, they can offer feedback to anyone else interested at a peer level.

    As for your attendant idea – you know that you are going to get a whole bunch of comments about ‘virtual drinks’ don’t you? Oh well!

    • Dennis Shiao says:

      @Stuart, thanks for the comments. I like the “Ask a Peer” concept for virtual events – it’s like taking what TripAdvisor and Yelp provide and blending them into the event (i.e. read reviews/comments from others).

      As for virtual drinks, that’s a clear example where the virtual event needs a physical extension!

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