Advertisements
 

5 Ways Face-to-Face Events Are Like Family Reunions

January 13, 2012

Introduction

This week, I attended my fourth Virtual Edge Summit and my second PCMA Convening Leaders. The two events were collocated with one another at the San Diego Convention Center. As I made my way throughout the event, I kept noticing the same thing: people embracing one another in enthusiastic hugs.

I noticed the hugs just about everywhere: in the hallways, on the elevators, on line for coffee and in the session areas. I made the realization that members of an industry comprise a family – and with our busy schedules these days, the “family” may see each other a few times per year. Or perhaps, a few times every five years!

Let’s consider how face-to-face events are like family reunions.

1) Scheduled time together.

At a family reunion, there’s the luncheon, picnic or perhaps a tea party at grandma’s house. There’s the obligatory group photo. Face-to-face events are largely defined by their scheduled activities: sessions, demonstrations, meals, classroom learning and evening networking events.

2) Unscheduled time spent in smaller groups.

A face-to-face event is wonderful at creating serendipity and somewhat random encounters: running into an old colleague while walking from one session to the next; meeting a like-minded professional on the food line; bumping into your former boss on the elevator.

While an event’s scheduled activities are valuable, a lot of enjoyment comes from the meetings and interactions we have during the unscheduled activities, which we tend to experience in smaller groups. Family reunions are similar. The one-on-one time with a cousin or aunt are great, as you reminisce about the “good old days.”

3) Nothing’s the same as face-to-face.

Families have Skype, Facebook and email to stay in touch. Industries have blogs, online communities, Twitter and Google+. All of these tools are very effective for keeping up with one another and staying in touch.

But nothing can reproduce the experiences, dynamics and value of meeting face-to-face. I’ve developed relationships with others online, but it’s not until I spend time with them face-to-face that I truly feel like I “know” them. Industries, like families, need to convene face-to-face from time to time.

4) You realize how quickly the kids grow up.

Kids grow up way too quickly. Go two years without seeing a young niece, nephew or cousin and you may not even recognize them. With business moving as quickly as ever, our friends and colleagues may get promoted or switch jobs without us knowing (although LinkedIn does a great job about letting us know!). It’s at events that we can see how the kids (and colleagues!) are growing.

5) It’s hard to say goodbye.

It’s hard to say goodbye at the end of a family reunion. After spending 2-3+ intense days at a face-to-face event, it’s equally tough to say bye. You’ve spent hours speaking, learning, (hugging) and socializing with a close-knit group of individuals. When it’s time for everyone to head to the airport, you wish that the event lasted one more day.

Conclusion

I had a great week with “family” in San Diego. For some, it’s my hope that I’ll see them again during 2012. For others, I may have to wait for 12 months. Perhaps I’ll combine the face-to-face event with a family reunion – Convening Leaders 2013 takes place in Orlando.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

Advertisements

10 Lead Generation Tips for Digital Events

January 12, 2012

Introduction

At Virtual Edge Summit / PCMA Convening Leaders in San Diego, I gave a Learning Lounge talk titled “Digital Events: 10 Tips for Generating Leads for Your Exhibitors.”

Ten Lead Generation Tips

My ten tips are:

  1. Content Marketing (You).
  2. Content Marketing (Your Exhibitors).
  3. Social Media (You).
  4. Social Media (Your Exhibitors).
  5. Leverage Speakers for promotion.
  6. Utilize social sharing buttons.
  7. Start promoting early.
  8. Leverage your partners.
  9. Issue a press release.
  10. Supplement with paid media.

The Presentation

Here are the slides from my presentation.


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

October 16, 2011

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

Introduction

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.

Funding

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.

Colocation

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.

Conclusion

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

Subscribe

Did you enjoy this blog posting? If so, you can subscribe to the feed here: https://allvirtual.wordpress.com/feed/


Lead Generation With Virtual Events (#LeadGen Resources)

January 10, 2011

Introduction

Virtual events can be a highly effective tool for generating sales leads (if done right!).  I’ve assembled a few relevant and timely resources related to virtual event lead generation.

Lead Generation & Virtual Events @ Virtual Edge Summit

I gave a presentation at Virtual Edge Summit 2011 titled “Lead Gen and Nurturing with Virtual Events“.  I was joined by Tom Donoghue (Enterprise Developer News) and Craig Rosenberg (FOCUS).  In the session, we covered:

  1. How to generate leads (promotional tactics)
  2. How to engage with leads during the virtual event
  3. How to qualify and follow up with leads after the virtual event

I’ve included my portion of the presentation – which focused on 5 Tips for engaging with your audience at a virtual event.

Fork In The Road Blog on Virtual Event “Selling”

I spoke to Michelle Bruno (@michellebruno) about my 5-Step Plan for exhibiting at virtual events:

  1. Define your mission statement
  2. Assemble an all-star team
  3. Build and promote your presence
  4. Engage with prospects
  5. Qualify and follow up with prospects

Michelle provides a great summary of our conversation on her blog.

RainToday.com Podcast – Accelerated Lead Generation

I spoke to Michelle Davidson, Editor at RainToday.com, about lead generation and virtual events.  I call it accelerated (online) lead generation, since you can generate leads, while engaging with them in real-time.  You can listen to the recording – or download it – on the RainToday podcast page.

Conclusion

I’d love to hear about the gaps in the market – if you’re interested in generating leads with virtual events, what questions have not yet been answered for you?


Gamification Predictions for 2011

December 22, 2010

Introduction

At Mashable, Gabe Zichermann (@gzicherm) provided his 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011.  Gabe’s article inspired me to provide my own predictions.

A New Name in 2011

In the second half of 2010, the term “gamification” became bi-polar: you either loved it or hated it.  People on the “love” side see it as the future of engagement and marketing.  People on the “hate” side see it as a gimmick.

Gabe provides his thoughts in an article at Huffington Post.  While the term is effective in capturing the essence, it’s not perfect.  As a result, “gamification” will be used less and less in 2011.  In its place will be a set of new terms, based on its specific applications (e.g. game-based marketing, game-based social initiatives, etc.).

A Sub-Industry Develops


This is more an observation, rather than a prediction (since it’s already happening): an industry has developed around “gamification”.  When folks convene for a conference or summit, that’s my measuring stick to tell me that an industry is emerging.  In the virtual events space, that happened in 2009 with the Virtual Edge Summit (which, by the way, has its third annual conference, also in January 2011).

If you look at the sponsor and speaker lists for this event, you’ll see a number of start-ups who built their business around gamification.  In 2011, we’ll see some “bubble like” behavior (perhaps we’re already seeing it now), where entrepreneurs look to build the next great gamification companies.  In the second half of 2011, however, the bubble settles and the early winners emerge.

Related: Gamification gets its own conference (VentureBeat)

Game Mechanics for The Greater Good

Jane McGonigal of Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future once said, “Any time I consider a new project, I ask myself, is this pushing the state of gaming toward Nobel Prizes? If it’s not, then it’s not doing anything important enough to spend my time.” (source: Salon.com article from 2007).

In 2011, we’ll see game mechanics applied increasingly to the “greater good” – initiatives that can change the world.

Armchair Revolutionary is a great example – consider one of their slogans, “shape the future by playing a game”.  In 2011, lots of “revolutionaries” emerge to rally those who can, to provide help to those in need.

Game Mechanics Go Mainstream – But Consumers Don’t Know It

Game mechanics are going mainstream, but the typical user won’t know that they’re participating in them.  They simply know that they’re engaging in enjoyable activities (side note: there will be similar growth in Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., but users, of course, won’t know that they’re using “location based services”).

For example, Universal Studios announced successful sales of their “Despicable Me” DVD – their press release attributes some of the success to a “Minions Madness” promotion, “a points-based reward and social media program spotlighting the film’s beloved mischief-makers, the Minions.” This promotion was powered by Bunchball, a game mechanics start-up.

Bunchball (and related companies) has built a nice client list of broadcast networks, cable networks and film studios.  In 2011, additional media outlets come on board.  Game mechanics  go more and more mainstream, even though the typical mainstream user doesn’t know it.  Watch out in 2012, however, as consumer-based game mechanics suffer some fatigue (as consumers then see “much too much” of it).

Established Web Players Incorporate Game Mechanics

2011 sees established players incorporate game mechanics to increase engagement (e.g. “time on site”, clicks, e-commerce sales, etc.).

Google adopts game mechanics as a means for bridging their search business and social services (e.g. adding game mechanics to Google Me). Others who add game mechanics include Netflix, eBay and Groupon.  Of course, it’s natural to expect that more and more virtual event experiences will add game mechanics, too.

Conclusion

2010 has been an interesting year for gamification. 2011 will kick off with an industry event and where we go from there will be exciting to watch.  I’ll check back mid-year with a report card on these predictions. Here’s hoping I attain the “crystal ball badge”.


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:

http://virtualedgesummit.com/registration_reader/

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

ROI Case Study: Virtual Edge Institute’s Hybrid Event

July 28, 2010

Introduction

Virtual events have enjoyed phenomenal growth in demand and visibility.  Notable brands and associations have hopped aboard the virtual bandwagon, delivering innovative experiences and impactful results.  The first phase of the virtual event industry is what I call the “early dating period”.  As the industry evolves and matures, we are moving from early dating to an era of “meet the parents”.

That is, a phase in which we receive increased visibility and a challenge to prove and justify ourselves.  The parents, in our case, are the company executives who fund our virtual event campaigns (e.g. our bosses, our CFO, CMO, CEO, etc.).  To date, virtual events used for lead generation have been the most effective at demonstrating ROI.

Why? Because lead generation has existing methodologies and metrics on ROI (e.g. “cost per lead”, “cost per inquiry”, “cost per sales engagement”, etc.).  So a virtual trade show investment could simply “plug into” a corporation’s existing ROI methodology.  For other event types, however, ROI, impact and effectiveness have not been explicitly measured to date.

To evolve our industry, it’s crucial that event planners, platform vendors and ROI experts work together to define and implement methodologies to generate quantitative results for our virtual and hybrid event investments.

Michael Doyle of the Virtual Edge Institute (@virtualedge) is a firm believer in event ROI measurement.  The Virtual Edge Institute is “an international organization dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of virtual event and meeting technology and best practices for collaboration and marketing”.  Doyle hosts the Virtual Edge Summit, an annual hybrid event that brings together virtual event practitioners, experts and solutions providers.

For the 2010 Virtual Edge Summit in Santa Clara, CA, Doyle partnered with ROI of Engagement to measure the impact and effectiveness of the event.  The summit was a hybrid event, with on-site and virtual components running simultaneously.  As such, Doyle sought to study and measure feedback from each attendee group.

The study was based on ROI Methodology™, which ROI of Engagement describes as “a step-by-step approach to collecting data, summarizing and processing data, isolating the effects of programs, converting data to monetary value and calculating ROI”.  The methodology studies results along the following five levels:

  1. Level One: Reaction and Satisfaction
  2. Level Two: Learning and Understanding
  3. Level Three: Application
  4. Level Four: Impact
  5. Level Five: ROI

Virtual Edge Summit 2010 measured the first two levels.  The results of the study have been published here:

http://www.virtualedge.org/forum/topics/measuring-and-maximizing-the

On this page, you can download the White Paper, “Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event“.

Virtual Edge Summit 2011 is scheduled for January 2011 in Las Vegas and will be co-located with PCMA.  Doyle plans to apply valuable feedback from the 2010 ROI study to improve the experience for the 2011 event.

Doyle is focusing on consolidating the virtual component on a single platform (in 2010, there were several virtual platforms to choose from) and increasing networking opportunities for both on-site and virtual attendees.

In addition, the 2011 event will embark upon another ROI study – this time, the study will take advantage of all five levels in the ROI Methodology™.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to be in the events industry.  Never before has there been so many technology tools at your disposal (e.g. virtual event platforms and much more).  For continued growth in virtual and hybrid events, the industry will need thorough and proven ROI methodologies to demonstrate and quantify ROI, impact and effectiveness.  Event planners: look to the initiative from Virtual Edge Institute and ROI of Engagement and consider how similar methodologies apply to your next event.

international organization dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of virtual event and meeting technology and best practices for collaboration and marketing

Tweet this posting:


%d bloggers like this: