Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Your Next Event is Virtually Yours

Technology allows us to do so many things that we weren’t able to do just a few years ago. We work remotely and our clients are all over the world; this is something that wouldn’t have even been possible a generation ago. Every day, companies and entrepreneurs are finding new and creative ways to do things. Think about it, how many jobs of the future haven’t even been imagined yet because of how quickly current technology is changing and new technology is emerging?

With budget challenges, travel restrictions, and people needing to get the best return on their time investment, is it time for conferences and other events to go virtual too?

By incorporating technology, you can offer a complete conference experience through a virtual event. Let’s explore further:

Registration – This one is a no-brainer – if you aren’t using technology for conference or event registration you should be. Not only is it easier and more efficient for your attendees, you can process payments, collect information, and follow up much easier using readily available technology.

Marketing – Depending on the size of your event, you may still incorporate some direct mail into your event marketing, but you definitely should incorporate technology as well. Incorporating email messaging, your event website, social media, and video into your marketing tactics will significantly increase your reach and return.

Attendance – Technology allows you to hold your event in a virtual space. You can use webinar, online meeting software, or video conferencing to provide a meeting space for each of your sessions.

Trade Show or Exhibit Hall – You can even incorporate an exhibit hall and sponsorships into a virtual conference. Some online meeting software includes event halls that offer your attendees the complete trade show experience of interacting with exhibitors of their choice. Think of the cost savings for exhibitors!

Interaction – Now the naysayers are starting to squirm. Yes, you can offer a significant amount of interaction through a virtual event! Online meeting software on its own offers interaction through polling, chat opportunities, VOIP interaction, and more. But you don’t have to stop there. Branch out using social media to hold pre-scheduled Twitter chats, add forums or a wiki or blog to keep the conversation going, hold teleconference or video conference sessions to add networking or interactive opportunities. The interactive ability of your virtual event is only limited by your imagination!

Flexibility – A virtual event offers significantly more flexibility for your attendees. They can choose to attend all or some sessions offered live, or can catch any they miss because of schedule conflicts by viewing the recorded version of the live sessions. Recordings can stay online for a period of time after the conference as an ongoing resource for attendees. Sessions can be accessed anywhere there is Internet access, and no travel is required, which saves a significant amount of time and money for attendees.

Bottom line? When incorporating technology and interactivity wisely, conference and event planners can offer a significant benefit and cost savings to their audiences by holding events entirely in a virtual environment, or at the very least incorporating virtual opportunities into their physical events.

Would you like to attend your next conference virtually?
Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of
ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing, event planning and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff. Learn more about their upcoming virtual conference Women on the Edge (of Greatness!) at www.gettheprofessionaledge.com/conference.html.