Pondering The Future With PCMA, VEI and … Event Camp?

October 16, 2011

Note: The thoughts expressed in this post are my own.


Recently, the Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) announced that it received a strategic investment from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). Michelle Bruno, in her Fork In the Road blog, provided some great insights on this partnership, in a posting titled “Why PCMA’s Investment in the Virtual Edge Institute Means More than Just Cash.”

Michelle commended PCMA for endorsing an open source model “to unlock the innovation around virtual and hybrid event technology.” I think PCMA should create a trifecta by making a strategic investment in Event Camp (EC). Commenting on this point via Twitter, Michelle tweeted, “Agree. Event Camp Europe gave me the idea about open source innovation in event context.”

Let’s dive into the potential benefits.


Event Camp has achieved great things to date. They’ve used their own hybrid events (“Event Camps”) to experiment and innovate on meeting and event planning. They’ve reached these heights primarily from the passion of their volunteer organizers and secondarily from supporting sponsors.

And while I believe that innovation can result from budgetary constraints, imagine the possibilities with an investment from an organization such as PCMA. I believe that a stronger financial foothold will create ever more innovative and engaging Event Camps.


Event Camp meetings would have a lot to gain by colocating with PCMA gatherings, in the same way that Virtual Edge Summit benefited from its colocation with PCMA Convening Leaders.

In the future, this trifecta could kick off the calendar year with colocation of three events (in one): PCMA Convening Leaders, Virtual Edge Summit and Event Camp National Conference. Given that several PCMA members are key contributors to Event Camp, colocation makes all the more sense.

In addition, there are additional PCMA events that may stand to benefit from VEI and EC involvement, such as the mid-year PCMA Education Conference.

Feeder Organization

Talk about synergy. Event Camp can spin out innovation via experimentation. The innovation fostered is then fleshed out, refined and documented. In this way, Event Camp becomes a feeder organization into Virtual Edge Institute’s certification programs and PCMA’s educational programs.

Open Source Innovation

Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) did a great interview with Nick Balestra (@nickbalestra) about Event Camp Europe titled, “Using Open Source to Remix Your Event.” According to Balestra, “creating events can be somehow similar, so taking an open-source approach while thinking about your events can lead to  smarter ways to create them.”

As Michelle Bruno stated in her piece, PCMA and VEI are supporting an open source model for the benefit of the entire events community. Event Camp, with their model built around “innovation from experimentation” would be a perfect fit for this open source event model to further grow and flourish.


I have a dream to one day visit every major league baseball park in the U.S. and Canada. On the meetings and events side, perhaps I’ll one day be able to attend PCMA Convening Leaders, Virtual Edge Summit and Event Camp in one fell swoop. As for the MLB parks, that’ll have to wait till retirement.

Related Posts

  1. My Thoughts: Virtual Edge Institute’s Digital Event Strategist Certification


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Take a Survey on The Use of Virtual Technologies In The Workplace

May 12, 2011

Take the survey: http://bit.ly/k0DAoR


Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) has announced a comprehensive survey to understand the work-related uses of virtual technologies and digital environments. The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and UBM Studios have teamed up with VEI to conduct and analyze the data for the study.

Survey Details – And a Prize

This survey is dedicated to work-related use of virtual technologies like:

  1. Virtual event, meeting, and virtual learning technologies as well as video streaming, and webcasting
  2. Virtual environments (2D and 3D) such as virtual events, virtual trade shows, conferences, and perpetual (365 days per year) business environments.

According to Michael Doyle, Executive Director of Virtual Edge Institute (VEI), “VEI is giving away two iPads, as well as access to the survey results and our library of on-demand Virtual Edge Summit sessions to ensure strong participation.”

Take the survey: http://bit.ly/k0DAoR

Video: Example of Virtual Environments

The following video from VEI shows examples of the virtual environments covered in their survey.

A Virtual Blog Posting

March 14, 2011

A Virtual Blog Posting


We’ve been well served by the term “virtual events” and by its related siblings, “virtual trade shows”, “virtual career fairs”, “virtual sales kick-off meetings” and the like. The industry has been using these terms for the past 5+ years and we’ve seen gains in understanding, recognition and awareness (of the terms).

Time for a New Name?

I was happy to see that Virtual Edge Institute’s new certification is called Digital Event Strategist and not Virtual Event Strategist.  I think it’s time to consider a shift in terminology, away from the adjective “virtual”.

Is this a virtual blog posting?  Well, no, I hope not.  I’d like for it to be real.  According to the “virtual” entry on thesaurus.com, the antonyms for “virtual” include: actual, authentic and real.

Is the event running on a virtual platform?  Well, no – the platform is real, or so I hope.

Need to have the on-site team coordinate with the virtual team?  May not need to, if the virtual team isn’t real.

Want to create virtual experiences?  I hope you’re creating real experiences, experienced digitally.

Practical Limitations

Having made my point, I understand that we can’t simply turn on a dime and change terminology right away. First, it would create confusion among prospects, as well as people who are newly considering “virtual” technologies.  And while the term “digital events” seems on target, “digital trade shows”, “digital career fairs” and “digital sales kick-off meetings” don’t quite do it for me.

Your Thoughts?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts – should we keep the “virtual” terminology? If not, what new terminology would you suggest?

Related: A posting from Mike McCurry, “Meeting Attendees: It’s About My Experience, Not My Location!

My Thoughts on Virtual Edge Institute’s Digital Event Strategist Certification

March 9, 2011

My Thoughts on Virtual Edge Institute's Digital Event Strategist Certification


Virtual Edge Institute announced a Digital Event Strategist certification.  The certification will launch in June at the PCMA Education Conference in Baltimore.  This signals an important development in the evolution of our industry.  Here are the phases that I anticipate seeing.

Phase I: Focus on Education and Training

The Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) certification program is the only structured and formalized training program in the digital events space today.  As a result, it will be quite attractive to “newbies” looking to get into the industry (i.e. land their first job). It will also attract experienced digital events professionals who’d like to sharpen their skills or take their knowledge and capabilities to the next level.

I expect that participants in the certification program will also benefit from the opportunity to connect and collaborate with industry peers. While the industry is still small, it can be challenging to meet and connect with the folks doing the same job (as you) at other companies. I’d expect VEI to build community programs around their certification, such as groups (within their existing web site), LinkedIn groups, etc.

Phase II: Focus on the Certification for Career Advancement

While the focus on Phase I was to receive basic education, the program advances to Phase II once a critical mass of professionals achieve certification.  As with any certification program, the early days involve a “chicken and egg” phenomenon, whereby the certification doesn’t take hold until enough people enroll – and, people hold off on enrolling until they see enough “others” doing it.

How can you tell when Phase II arrives? When employers of digital event strategists make the certification a difference maker in the hiring process – and, when the strategists “headline” the certification on their resume or LinkedIn profile.  When we reach this phase, strategists will be compelled to enroll in the program in order to stay current with best practices – and, to advance their careers.

Phase III: Specialization and Standards

As a certification (and the corresponding industry) grows, it often necessitates specialization, as a broad program may no longer be sufficient to address specialized skills.  In digital events, I anticipate specialized certification in the areas of rich media production, hybrid events, mobile technologies and project management.  That’s right – I think it makes sense to have a certification around project management of digital events.

In addition to certification, it would make sense for VEI to define and develop standards for the industry – things like standardization of terminology (e.g. exactly how do you define “virtual event”), the definition and publishing of ROI models, and comparative benchmarks that buyers can use to evaluate digital event platforms and services.


I’m looking forward to the launch of this certification program. While it will be interesting to look at uptake when this program rolls out in June, I’m sure the true impact of the program will be over the long term.

Virtual Edge Summit 2011

October 20, 2010

Heading into its third year, Virtual Edge Summit, the annual hybrid event covering “digital solutions for events, meetings, learning & community,” is moving up in the world.

Earlier this year, PCMA and Virtual Edge announced that the Virtual Edge Summit would be co-located with PCMA’s 2011 annual meeting in Las Vegas.

As in past years, Virtual Edge Summit will be a hybrid event, featuring both on-site and virtual components.

Make it a 2011 New Year’s Resolution and attend this valuable event.  You’ll hear from the industry’s experts and thought leaders and be able to network with key people in the industry.

Readers of this blog are welcome to a special discount, which is available at this link:


By registering from this page, you’ll receive a $120 discount off the $595 registration fee for in-person and $90 off the $195 for virtual.

“Over the past 18 months, virtual events have gained momentum, moving from a nice-to-have to an integral part of an organization’s online strategy,” said Michael Doyle, executive editor of Virtual Edge Institute.

“Virtual Edge Summit is the only conference that will bring together thought leaders from Cisco, IBM, Hilton Hotels and more to discuss business strategies and best practices for taking your business virtual.”

Related Links

  1. ROI Case Study: Virtual Edge Institute’s Hybrid Event
  2. My observations from Virtual Edge Summit: 2010 Trend Watch: Virtual Events

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