Podcast

Podcast
The Elephant in the Room
The research that I’ve read about the future of live events all points to the fact that no matter what happens with the Pandemic, having a virtual attendance option is something that an overwhelming majority of organizations want to incorporate in 2022 and beyond. But having said that, if you ...
podcast
The research that I’ve read about the future of live events all points to the fact that no matter what happens with the Pandemic, having a virtual attendance option is something that an overwhelming majority of organizations want to incorporate in 2022 and beyond. But having said that, if you make that statement to event organizers, they may agree in principle, but not in practice. It seems as if the big elephant in the room is that to them, virtual represents a set of complications that make it harder to plan, execute and fund when you’re having to create an event for both the virtual and physical world. Now, I’ll have to admit bias because our company delivers technology that powers virtual and hybrid events. But I feel that if we don’t acknowledge the complications of virtual and how to address them, then the benefits that organizations receive by having those options may not be enough to keep the momentum that technology has offered alive in the event space. I know that we all are tired of having Dr. Fauci tell us what we already know: wear a mask, socially distance, and the Pandemic still has a hold on live events. But the Pandemic is not the only thing that creates event disruption and reduces attendance. As an example, this week, Southwest Airlines cancelled thousands of flights leaving passengers stuck in airports for days. Why? Weather, labor shortages, planes in the wrong location – who knows? In 2020, 6.2 million hospitality workers were laid off, but in 2021 as organizations try and staff up, they find that many of those laid off workers have left the industry for good leaving hotels and restaurants struggling to serve guests. And what about the transportation industry? With a severe shortage of truck drivers, those big fancy booths may not make it to Vegas or Chicago. "In the entertainment industry, interactive media is growing with traditionally consumed live events declining" According to Forbes, in the entertainment industry, interactive media is growing with traditionally consumed live events declining. This stems from trends that have been in process for a decade such as streaming, digital services, online gaming, and online content. The pandemic only made their growth accelerate. Whether it’s entertainment, tradeshows or conferences, people now want their experiences to be more personal, mobile, interactive, available, connected and rewarding. Now, let’s get back to the Elephant in the Room. Why do event organizers find virtual difficult to execute? After working with quite a few customers that are doing virtual for the first time, here is what jumps out at me. Event organizers work harder because they attempt to cram too much into their virtual events. The biggest area of overproducing a virtual event seems to be in sessions. Attendees get overwhelmed with too many choices, especially during the 2-3 days of the scheduled event. An overwhelming amount of content feels to them as if they must be chained to their computer reducing their time to visit exhibitors, network and do other activities. When we get feedback from our event hosts, that’s one area that they wish they had cut back on. Failure to incorporate sponsors as partners. Sponsors want leads from a virtual event, but they also want to showcase their industry expertise, be part of the conversation, and enjoy attending. Remember that these companies are often larger than the association or organization producing the event. They’ve got great marketing teams, strong speakers and industry experts that can fill up the agenda with roundtables, keynotes, and sessions. And if you set the right ground rules, sponsors can show off their expertise without being salesy or blatantly promotional. Partners participation takes the burden of having to do it all off the event organizer and raises their overall satisfaction level. Not enough ways for attendees to weigh in. School teachers will tell you that if you simply lecture kids, you’ll lose their attention quickly and the same is true for adults. People need to participate, share their ideas, and hear from others that overcame common challenges. Technology should be used to create online discussion forums, roundtables, networking opportunities and more intimate connections with speakers and panelists. Do that, and satisfaction among attendees rises when they think about their virtual experience. Overcomplicating the technology. Platforms can be intimidating, but they shouldn’t be too hard for the average non-technical person to use. If the platform is loaded with features, as ours is, you don’t have to use each one of them. Pick the features that are most impactful, turn those on, and skip ones that are less significant or not relevant to your event. Figure out what you can customize and control and leave the rest to the technology organization. Not making it fun. You can’t be boring. We’ve now had almost 2 years of executing virtual events who have used a variety of ways to amp up the fun beyond the traditional cocktail party. Our customers have done virtual 5K races, held contests, had “hangout” spaces, and invited fun people to appear at networking events. One show even had the bouncer from the Jerry Springer show. You can imagine how interesting his stories were! Events have had cartoonist draw what was happening in the networking lounge and the list goes on and on. The internet is a treasure trove of ideas that you don’t have to think up yourself, just borrow and add them. Now that we’ve talked about the elephants in the room that make virtual seem more difficult and some strategies to get around those issues, let’s talk about how a shift in all our mindsets can turn virtual from a negative into a positive. First, the at-home attendee is not the enemy. If the attendee didn’t purchase a ticket for the live event, they are still worthy of an experience that educates, informs, and engages them. Your most loyal audience may be the ones watching at home. It’s not our job to gatekeep how people consume content or interact with each other, but to expand our horizons to include everyone. Of course, the live attendee will spend more, but only serving that person runs the risk of alienating a growing segment of your audience. We must recognize that technology is improving at an accelerated rate. In the past, the difference between experiencing an event in person or from home was staggering, but technology is rising to the occasion and continuing to evolve. Video platforms offer amazing streaming experiences. Event platforms are building in interactivity, competition, feedback, social media, and offering more options to keep attendees engaged and involved. Automation is improving so once you set up the platform, the routines kick in and do the work for you freeing you up to focus on strategy not technology. It’s time to embrace that your audience has changed forever. They’ve had almost two years of working from home. They are used to Slack, Zoom, BlueJeans, robo-watching and consuming content online. Live event hosts must determine how to merge the worlds of digital and live attendees. It’s a challenge to add interactive elements into the at-home attendee experiences and at the same time improve the integration of live experiences into the virtual event world to create better experiences for those that come to the venue. But it’s worth and ultimately, we must engage attendees wherever they are — on their phones, TVs or in the exhibit hall. Free eBook: The ADCES Virtual Event Case Study [Read Now] Takeaway There doesn’t have to be an elephant in the room when it comes to your thoughts on the work it takes to deliver a great virtual and live event to the same audience at the same time. Let’s acknowledge that it takes more work, a higher-level strategy, and partnerships to ease the burden of doing both live and virtual. But we also must acknowledge that virtual events and the digital ways we consume content have always been there. The pandemic only served to accelerate trends that were already poised to upend the status quo. Attendees and exhibitors have changed, and we need to keep moving forward and change with them. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
How Virtual Events Help Nurses Meet Today’s Challenges
I’m getting ready to be the mother-in-law to a newly graduated nurse who earns her bachelor’s degree this December. Getting an education during the Pandemic has been more than a challenge for her especially with COVID restrictions that significantly reduced the hands-on clinical experience she ...
podcast
I’m getting ready to be the mother-in-law to a newly graduated nurse who earns her bachelor’s degree this December. Getting an education during the Pandemic has been more than a challenge for her especially with COVID restrictions that significantly reduced the hands-on clinical experience she needed to feel more confident to work with patients as she enters the workforce. However, as our company has been called on more and more often to deliver virtual and hybrid events for nursing associations, I realize that the challenges my daughter in law will face as an RN are going to be profound. So, I took a deep dive into the nursing association virtual conferences that we have been privileged to deliver to learn more about how these groups are using virtual during these conferences to bring their membership together, address the challenges that nurses face, and get their members prepared for what continues to be a fast moving and ever-changing healthcare environment. Here is what I learned from how our virtual event customers and the key challenges that they are helping their nursing members address. Challenge #1: Staffing shortages have made it more difficult to attend a live event. Recently we delivered the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialist annual conference with a huge percentage of attendees coming from the nursing profession. The feedback that the association received was a level of appreciation among attendees for the fact that this conference was made accessible to everyone because it was virtual. Not only did critical staffing shortages make it hard for people to take time from work, but there were other challenges nurses faced such as paying for travel or the perceived health risk of connecting with others in a live venue. According to a recent study, 60% of the 3.3 million registered nurses work in hospitals but only 15% in critical care, a department being overrun with COVID patient emergencies. Virtual programming keeps nurses at home, and ready to go on the floor when they are needed. Challenge #2: Support groups are needed to help nurses process the mental and ethical challenges they now face. I never really appreciated the emotional challenges nurses are facing in these unusual times along with the ethical dilemmas of how COVID patients receive treatment. Many nurses are suffering from PTSD because of the elevated risk they face of their own illness or death as they execute their job. Not to mention the long hours and physical demands of being on the job. But then we need to consider how difficult it must be to navigate who gets treated first and whose lives get saved in a crowded ER and ICU environment. That’s why we’ve seen our virtual conferences liberally use discussion forums for nurses to weigh in on these issues and find ways to deal with them. Those forums become an online support group where people find comfort and value in expressing how they feel, processing their emotions, and realizing they are not alone. But virtual goes beyond just text-based forums with organizations adding video networking opportunities and round table discussions for nurses to share their thoughts and find better strategies to compensate for the mentally and emotionally challenging environment they find themselves in. Challenge #3: Getting education in a convenient manner has become more difficult. . Most medical professionals need to get their annual continuing education credits in order to maintain their licenses, but nowhere is this more evident than in nursing. In the past, nurses could accumulate credits at the association’s live annual conference. However, today nurses are managing a heavy work schedule, their children at home who may be in virtual school and just trying to balance their personal and work lives. Our association customers have recognized this challenge by providing their conference attendees with a strong mix of online sessions, some of which are live with speaker engagement, but others that can be consumed online at a nurse’s convenience. CE credits are available no matter how you decided to take the class. Challenge #4: Nurses get kudos for their work on the national news, but often feel underappreciated. We hear on the nightly news about our front-line heroes in the ER and ICU, but I still think that many nurses don’t feel that sense of achievement and recognition. The diabetes education conference featured an awards and fellows segment of their event site to recognize their rising stars, those with distinguished service, stand out educators and lifetime achievement recipients. Each award winner was profiled on a video, had their achievements acknowledged and delivered a video acceptance speech. Having their peer group recognize and reward them reinforces the work and recognition that nurses crave from their own community. Challenge #5: Nurses need new strategies to manage their patients and work environment. One of the greatest values in a virtual event is that attendees are attracted from all over the country and even all over the world. It’s a time to showcase thought leaders, reveal new technologies to make the job more efficient, learn about simple strategies that save time and allow the nurse to serve more patients. We’ve seen virtual event programs launch networking lounges hosted by their sponsors and featuring some of their key speakers for more intimate conversations. The Association of Perioperative Nurses, or AORN had over 250 company sponsors and exhibitors contributing to the collective wisdom by showcasing new products and innovative services in sessions or in their virtual booths.Networking opportunities allowed nurses who have shared interests in common come together over a video meeting to brainstorm and strategize. The best ideas often come from these exchanges and are taken back to make the job easier and more rewarding. Challenge #6: Someone must put the fun back in nursing. Much of what I’ve said here has been about the extreme challenges that nurses face; however, many people got into the job because of the rewards, camaraderie, and the fun of being together with like-minded people inside a practice or a hospital. And our virtual show hosts did not disappoint. Our nursing virtual event hosts added scavenger hunts for prizes, social hour with music requests, mindfulness and meditation, coffee breaks, yoga experiences and even a virtual 5K. If it’s just all business or just all sessions, then nurses will miss out on the fun of being together, even if it’s in the virtual world. Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Despite all the challenges, the nursing profession is still rated as one of the most desirable career paths with opportunities to make a great living and really affect the care outcome for millions of patients. What could be more gratifying than seeing someone come in sick and broken and walk out on a path to healthy recovery? We’re proud to partner with professional nurses’ associations who are really working hard to deliver a great event experience that is relevant to the challenges nurses face today. Remember, we must keep attendees’ access to education flexible recognizing that nurses can’t always afford or be able to travel. Virtual events need to provide nurses with those valuable connections and promote discussions around mental health, ethical dilemmas, and their changing roles in healthcare. Time needs to be set aside for thought leadership, change management, and new strategies. After all, we have 3.3 million nurses who are making a dramatic impact on the future of healthcare. And let’s not forget we need to craft our virtual environment to help nurses have time to lighten the mood, compete for the prizes, enjoy social hour, play trivia, or show off their creative and fun side. Thank you to all the nurses’ associations that have trusted Cloud Conventions to manage your virtual and hybrid events, learn from how you help your membership address challenges and make our company better partners for the next nurse’s association that trusts us help them go virtual. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Fail to Satisfy Exhibitors and Sponsors
In today’s environment companies are inundated with requests to participate in virtual events. They struggle to learn multiple platforms, figure out how to sell in a digital world, and find ways to attract attendees into the booth. Events that fail to provide exhibitors what they want most: ...
podcast
In today’s environment companies are inundated with requests to participate in virtual events.  They struggle to learn multiple platforms, figure out how to sell in a digital world, and find ways to attract attendees into the booth.  Events that fail to provide exhibitors what they want most:  leads, interactions, and a strong ROI will create a community of companies that won’t support you when the live event returns, be there for the hybrid experience or join the next virtual event. Much of my time helping companies execute a Cloud Conventions tradeshow or conference is spent helping my customers create a strong exhibitor and sponsor strategy.  If your strategy has flaws, then your exhibitors will walk away feeling deflated and disappointed.  Here are some critical mistakes that we see events make in the way they manage their exhibitor and sponsor strategy. Mistake #1:  Overpromise on the audience If you are new to the virtual event game, it is difficult to predict how many attendees will show up.  Show the exhibitor how you plan to market the event, but don’t overpromise big attendee numbers.  Get exhibitors and sponsors to partner with you in attracting the audience because every effort helps to increase attendee numbers. Mistake #2: Fail to educate on the value of the event The virtual event is not a consolation prize.  It offers many advantages a live event can’t deliver: targeted leads, better analytics, longer and more exposure to attendees and levels the playing field if you are a smaller exhibitor.  Get exhibitors as engaged as your attendees or they will turn in a lack-luster performance. Mistake #3: No strategy to get the attendee to the booth Don’t design an event without strategies to get the attendee into the exhibit hall and directed to the booth.  Event-wide directories of show specials, new products and giveaways; contests and gamification and sponsored sessions are only some of the way attendees find exhibitors. Mistake #4: Not providing enough ways to get a sales lead Attendees that are in the booth need to engage, have a call to action and a reason to give up their contact information.  Make sure your booth strategy for exhibitors includes calls to action, ways to capture contact information and translate those contacts into leads.  Mistake #5: Have boring or incomplete booths Make sure that your booth design strategy provides exhibitors the opportunity to have a rich graphics and content experience to showcase new products, have videos and add images. Don’t assume your exhibitors will get things done when you are ready to open and have a plan to audit the booth and help them out if they are struggling.  Exhibitors in a live event set their booths up overnight, but this is not the case in the world of virtual events. Mistake #6: Not letting them participate in the agenda Exhibitors have a wealth of industry knowledge and training assets.  Incorporate them into your session design to let them show off their expertise.  Offer exhibitors the opportunity to sponsor coffee breaks, networking lounges, roundtable discussions or cocktail parties and get their creative teams engaged to make them standout.  Exhibitors are integral to the success of the event, so make sure to give them opportunities to shine outside of the booth. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Exhibitors and sponsors are most often the drivers of revenue success for a virtual event, so it’s important to have a strategy that provides them exposure, enough booth traffic, sales leads and calls to action.  Populating their booth with the best combination of content and graphics requires you to give them direction and training and work with them to make sure their booth is ready for attendees to visit when the show opens. I’ve personally met with hundreds of exhibitors, helped our customers sell the value of the event, and watched how they are either delighted or disappointed.  Make sure your event strategy recognizes the importance of exhibitors and sponsors and find as many ways as possible to have them partner with you to ensure your event is successful. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Getting Content Wrong
Events that fail pack their programs full of content or don’t have enough of it. Without the right balance, attendees tune out because they become overwhelmed or don’t tune in at all because there isn’t enough to look at. Don’t expect attendees to stay online for hours in front of their ...
podcast
Events that fail pack their programs full of content or don’t have enough of it. Without the right balance, attendees tune out because they become overwhelmed or don’t tune in at all because there isn’t enough to look at. Don’t expect attendees to stay online for hours in front of their computer and don’t skimp on the content risking that attendees will decide there is not enough value for them to invest the time to participate.   As an event manager, I’ve been intimately involved with my customers in the design, planning and execution of their content strategy.  And I’ve seen events where they really nail it and delight their audience and those that totally miss the mark. Here is my list of what events do to get content wrong so you can avoid those mistakes. Mistake #1 is having sessions that are too long. Attendees lose interest if sessions are too long, run back-to-back without a break and have no interaction.  Shorten sessions from an hour to 30 minutes, put in regular breaks and consider extending your virtual event longer or create smaller events throughout the year. Mistake #2 is not holding speakers accountable Don’t let speakers go online without looking at their slide decks or videos in advance and making sure speakers are comfortable with your technology and that their environment to conduct the session is set up for success.  There is nothing worse than messy PowerPoints, bad audio, internet that doesn’t work or the dog that barks in the background. Mistake #3 is having content that is boring And speaking of PowerPoint, the traditional style of delivering those slide decks will risk boring your audience.  The best and most interesting presentations I’ve seen have session leaders mix things up by adding videos, strong graphics, panelists and other ways to break things up. Mistake #4 is not enlisting outside expertise Attendees want new ideas requiring you to change things up by looking outside your company or industry or adding customers to share their experiences.  Consider speaking professionals who have expertise on a range of topics like marketing, business growth, and leadership.  We find that attendees are interested in learning how to keep business moving in the face of the pandemic, how to hold their teams together, and better ways to work digitally.  There are a number of really engaging professionals who were great at live events and can deliver the same message virtually. Mistake #5 is no balance between live and recorded content Events need a balance of both live and recorded sessions.  Live sessions may run the risk of speakers not showing or lack of sound quality.  Recordings must be web-ready, well-produced, and designed to capture the attendee’s attention. Mistake #6 is lack of interactivity People shouldn’t passively listen to a webinar when technology is designed for interactivity.  Make sessions smaller and offer breakout rooms, launch polling questions and share the results. Add questions and answer opportunities throughout the session to go beyond simply broadcasting to an unengaged audience. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway We find that the selection of the topics and the speakers that will create and deliver the content is more important than the technology used to during the virtual event.  You need to remember that attention spans today are short, so sessions should be shorter. You have to manage, monitor and educate your speakers on how you want your audience to be engaged during their sessions.  Don’t be afraid to seek speakers outside your industry because there are quite a few talented professionals out there.   Strike a balance between live and on-demand sessions, and don’t forget to make them as interactive as possible. Remember that for any virtual event, content is king and the right strategy can make or break the success of your program. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Picking the Wrong Platform
The platform that powers your event can be one of the most critical decisions you make. Picking the wrong platform will leave you frustrated, cost you more in time and money, and underperform. It’s critical that your technology match the size of the audience, the complexity of the event, and ...
podcast
The platform that powers your event can be one of the most critical decisions you make.  Picking the wrong platform will leave you frustrated, cost you more in time and money, and underperform.  It’s critical that your technology match the size of the audience, the complexity of the event, and your capacity to manage some of the components if needed. I should know because I manage the product and platform that drives Cloud Conventions.  Certainly, we are not a perfect technology, but we’ve been evolving the platform based on mistakes that we ourselves have made and ones we see customers make when they pick a platform that doesn’t work for them.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid in selecting your event platform. Mistake #1:  Not accounting for size & complexity I’m a car guy and everyone that loves cars knows that they are often under or over-powered.  This is also true in virtual events.  If your audience is large and the event is complex, don’t skimp on your technology.  On the other hand, don’t overspend on platforms if the event is smaller and simple. Mistake #2: The wrong balance of self & fully managed Don’t expect that managing an event platform is like getting the keys to the car and knowing how to drive for the first time.  Understand the complexity of the platform and your team’s ability to manage it before you decide on a self or fully managed platform. Mistake #3: Not enough automation Platforms should automate most of the functionality that it takes to stage an event including attendee onboarding, the virtual booth experience for exhibitors, session management and delivery, and content posting.  Make sure that critical processes are automated in the technology you choose. Mistake #4: Poor session management & delivery Sessions are a huge part of any virtual event, so it’s critical to understand how your platform manages them.  Make sure that attendees can register for a session, get it on their calendar and be reminded to attend.  Avoid platforms that only have one webinar technology that may be at or over capacity when it comes time to deliver your event. Mistake #5: Not having the right feature set Make an inventory of all the features you need in the technology and make sure the platform does not have glaring holes in its capabilities.  By the same token, select a platform that can turn off features that you don’t need or want to streamline your experience. Mistake #6: Poor analytics and reporting Exhibitors and sponsors expect you to provide an analysis of attendee engagement from the event to analyze the ROI from participating.  Make sure the platform has a lead management capability to deliver contact records to exhibitors during and after the event.  Reports should be easy to run, downloadable and available to the event management team and exhibitors. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway No event platform is perfect, but virtual events are complex productions that require a platform that is feature-rich, stable and secure.  The platform should have compliance built in to be responsive to any device that it is viewed on, accessible to those that may have disabilities, secure enough to protect your data, and flexible enough to offer the right level of customization for your event. Our platform was developed over the last 8 years as a content and marketing portal service and pivoted to offer virtual events in May of this year. We’re evolving to make sure that it’s strong enough for even the largest event, easy enough for others to manage, automated to streamline processes, has a strong session component, and all the features needed for its audiences and exhibitors.   Picking the right technology platform will either make or break your event, so choose wisely. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Not Enough Time
Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now]  Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. ...
podcast
Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Plan Ahead
Companies sometimes incorrectly assume that exhibiting at virtual shows is easier, less labor intensive, and requires less planning than a live event. While most of the manual labor of traveling and physically setting up the booth is eliminated, a clear and concise plan is still crucial to a ...
podcast
Companies sometimes incorrectly assume that exhibiting at virtual shows is easier, less labor intensive, and requires less planning than a live event.  While most of the manual labor of traveling and physically setting up the booth is eliminated, a clear and concise plan is still crucial to a successful event.  Companies that don’t prepare ahead of time or don’t give themselves enough time to strategize are likely to be disappointed when they don’t receive the ROI they were hoping for.   After working with hundreds of exhibitors, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work for exhibitors, and here is my list of what exhibitors get right during their planning process, so you can incorporate these into your own planning strategy.   Strategy #1 is to research the attendee. Successful exhibitors research to understand the type of individuals who are likely to attend.  They shouldn’t expect the audience to be exactly the same as in past live shows and a focus on the demographics of the virtual exhibitor helps target this new audience. Strategy #2 is to assess your competition. Exhibitors walk the tradeshow floor, check out the booths and get a sense of the other companies that are competing for the attendees’ attention.  This is a little harder in a virtual event, but the savvy exhibitor looks to see who is exhibiting, and where they’ve exhibited in the past to get a sense of the competition.  Strategy #3 is to evaluate the agenda. Content is always king at a virtual event, but it’s also an indicator of what the audience is likely going to be interested in.  Exhibitors that want to cater to the virtual audience explore the agenda, look at the topics and incorporate those elements into their exhibit content design. Strategy #4 is to give yourself enough time. Creating the right exhibit doesn’t happen overnight in a virtual event.  Starting early gives exhibitors the advantage of upgrading their graphics, producing new materials and videos for the virtual exhibit, and getting the content message in line.  Generating a marketing strategy ahead of the event will ensure that both the event as well as your exhibit gets noticed. Strategy #5 is to set meetings in advance. Virtual events often keep attendees quite busy during event days, but that doesn’t mean they are too busy to meet with you. Successful exhibitors have a strategy to leverage the attendee list provided by the event, reach out ahead and get scheduled meetings on the books before the event opens. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Creating a virtual exhibit requires a different strategy than in a live event, and is not by any means any easier to set up.  The time saved on the physical set up of your booth can be used productively and strategically to ensure a successful and strong ROI.  Familiarize yourself with both your attendees and your competition, reach out to your attendees before the event goes live, and give yourself enough time to plan and produce all the elements of your virtual booth.    Plan ahead, and use the time before the event wisely to achieve a captivating and successful exhibit. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
No Goals or Plan - Leads to Problems
I'm Bruce Ahern, Chairman of Convey Holdings parent company of Cloud Conventions It’s not enough to state that you want to hold a virtual event and make it your primary goal. When you run your company, association or nonprofit, you are ...
podcast
I'm Bruce Ahern, Chairman of Convey Holdings parent company of Cloud Conventions It’s not enough to state that you want to hold a virtual event and make it your primary goal.  When you run your company, association or nonprofit, you are clear about who your customers and prospects are, your financial objectives, your position in the marketplace and what makes you successful.    Delivering a virtual event should follow that same philosophy. If you fail to understand and set goals and objectives for your event, the focus becomes unclear and it’s virtually impossible to create a successful plan. Here are a few reasons why our customers sometimes miss the mark on their virtual event. First, Failing to do their homework. There is nothing that beats research to help you identify the critical components of any virtual event:   Define who is your audience and what is their motivation,  what do exhibitors and sponsors expect, along with what others in your industry are doing to virtualize,  Also what challenges to expect based on what is going on in the marketplace.  You have to do your homework before you even start drafting any plan. The next area is the Failure to establish goals Once you’ve done your homework, you must create goals that are both attainable and measurable, as well as making sure they align with your business goals.  Events will fail if don’t understand: The audience to attract, along with attendance numbers you want to reach. Revenue and profit goals from the event The experience and takeaways for attendees Exhibitor and sponsor ROI Especially since you want this event to be remembered in the marketplace If it’s not measurable you can’t validate your success. So, you have to set objectives with Key Performance Indicators After goals are established, you have to create objectives with measurable KPI’s.  Goals must include  attendee and exhibitor acquisition and satisfaction,  engagement with content and event offerings  and the ROI for you and the exhibitors.   Here are some performance indicators that are often ignored: How many registrants are expected and the ratio of who actually logs in. What does it cost to acquire a registrant? If you are charging, what is your goal for attendee revenue? How many exhibitors and sponsors will you secure and how much revenue will they deliver? How many leads will your event produce for exhibitors What are your goals for session participation? And finally, what satisfaction scores do you want from attendees and exhibitors? Once you have goals and objectives, it’s time to get down to the planning phase.  Virtual events take longer than you think to create and execute.  Event planners make their first mistake by starting the selection of their technology platform before defining a plan that serves the business goals and objectives for the event.  Without the right plan, every other decision most assuredly will increase cost, slow down the process and not support the attendee or exhibitor experience. Here are some common event planning mistakes to avoid. Not designating an event producer, manager or leader Events without a strong leader either from your organization or from the world of event planners will fail.  This individual needs to execute the vision, delegate tasks, and make sure everything stays on track. It’s no different than a live event. Failure to assemble the right team Virtual events generate revenue, educate audiences, and create community.  Make sure the team includes sales professionals, content and education specialist, and a creative staff to build in fun and engagement. Failing to create a plan to attract the audience Attracting attendees is not as easy as you think.  Event plans should include the audiences you have attracted to live events, as well as those that might attend virtually for the first time. Short changing your content strategy One of the most compelling reasons for people to attend virtual events is content and education.  Content is sometimes the most overlooked event component, but one of the most important as you consider the right mix of live and on demand, speakers and session leaders and the topics that will interest and engage the audience. Lack of plan to attract exhibitors & sponsors Without an exhibitor package that outlines you attract attendees into a booth, generate leads, create calls to action and analyze the results, exhibitors won’t know what they are buying.  Without the right sales tools and a demo site the sales team will struggle to sell exhibit packages and clearly demonstrate what companies are getting for participating. Not incorporating engagement & connection Virtual events are about connection, collaboration and networking.  Lack of opportunities for discussions, roundtables, social events and ways to find and connect with individuals that attend or exhibit will make your event boring and unengaging. And Finally … Selecting a platform before you have a plan If you haven’t built a plan, don’t pick a platform.  Without a plan you may end up being penny wise and pound foolish by thinking the lowest cost alternative can meet your needs. Or you can spend too much on a platform that is more robust than your event requires. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway You’ve heard the old saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. Nothing could be truer than in the virtual event world.  The right event plan starts with knowing your audience, understanding your business goals, and laying out performance objectives.  Then, you need to get the right leadership, tap into the best team, have a plan to attract attendees and the companies to fund the event.   And most importantly, you need define ways to educate, interest, engage and connect with your audience. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Striking a Balance Between Live & Virtual Events
I think all event planners understand conferences, tradeshows and events being planned for the latter part of 2021 and beyond will not look like meetings from the past. Although we’d love for everything to go back the way it was a year ago, returning to live events will be more gradual than we ...
podcast
I think all event planners understand conferences, tradeshows and events being planned for the latter part of 2021 and beyond will not look like meetings from the past.  Although we’d love for everything to go back the way it was a year ago, returning to live events will be more gradual than we think.  A recent Harris poll of 2,000 people revealed that 60% of those polled would not be comfortable in large events and crowds until herd immunity is achieved.   Although creating a virtual event was hard for most of us, having online options for event attendance is what audiences in the fall and beyond now expect, so we can either fight the change or embrace it and evolve our strategy.  Because we will now have audiences that travel to the venue, those that are behind their laptops and some that do both, our goal is to create an experience that is equitable and meaningful whether the attendee is logged in or on the exhibit hall floor. Now, many of you are likely thinking that we’ve not seen a hybrid event so we’re right back where we were a year ago...in the dark, not really understanding how to satisfy an audience that participates in the same event but in different ways. The reality is that we’ve been involved in hybrid events for decades but perhaps just didn’t think of it that way.  You may love watching football games from the comfort of your living room, listening to the sports commentators, and watching the instant replays.  However, there is another audience that traveled to the stadium and experienced the same event, but just in a different way. That football game is a good example for both audiences, despite the fact that one group watched it from home while the other was in the stands in the middle of the action. We still have to figure out what hybrid means when we plan our tradeshow, conference or summit, but the change is upon us and our audiences are expecting us to figure it out for the fall shows.  Here are three things to consider in your virtual vs. live event strategy design. #1.  Start with the primary purpose of the event to determine what elements should be virtual or live.  Although events have a number of purposes, there are often those that are more prominent than others.  Here are some examples. ·       Informational events are designed to share news, inform and present information. ·       Educational events have people share ideas and develop new strategies or use the time to update their professional licenses with continuing education. ·       Inspirational or motivational events are designed to get people fired up and inspired.  Everyone can picture Steve Jobs walking out in all black to share the latest iPhone model with the goal of motivating you to run out to the Apple store and buy it. ·       Some events exist to recognize and reward achievement and identify people that have done well in the past year.  Think about the annual sales kickoff. ·       And last but not least are events that are designed for people to network and connect. The entire event or elements of the event that are heavily weighted to being informational and educational often do the best in a virtual environment.  Events or certain elements heavily weighted to recognition, rewarding achievement or networking and connecting often do best in a live environment.   When you construct an event that will have elements of both, then take those elements that are informational and educational and consider heavier delivery over the virtual platform with the networking and connection opportunities to be more heavily designed to be delivered in the event hall. #2. Consider what needs to happen in a short, compressed timeframe and what should be extended over longer periods of time. It’s obvious that live events must compress the most meaningful elements into a very short period of time.  However, having a digital platform allows the event planner to take other elements and shift them to the virtual world to extend the time attendees engage with the content, the event, or the sponsors.  As an example, some sessions can pop up in the weeks before the event.  The exhibit hall can stay open when the live attendees are on their flights home.  And content that is recorded and preserved can live on long after the doors have closed. #3. The budget strategy for a hybrid event needs to shift to accommodate higher costs, but higher revenue opportunities. Hybrid events will cost more because you have to plan for two different arenas.  You have to plan for the venue, travel and other traditional live event costs, but then add to that the virtual platform, more event resources to setup the environment and likely some production costs to make sure the elements you deliver over the digital environment are high quality and engaging.   But just because the cost is higher doesn’t mean that the revenue has to be the same.  We’ve learned from the past year that virtual events attract larger audiences that would be very unlikely to participate in the live event.  Think about the citizens from those countries that aren’t as far along with their vaccine strategy as we are in the United States and the potential revenue they produce from registration fees.  What about those exhibitors whose budgets to travel were cut, but who could purchase a virtual booth?  The budget planning process needs to take into account higher planning and setup costs but should have a strategy to offset the higher costs with ways to increase revenue from the virtual audience and exhibitors. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Events will look much different on the other side of this crisis and will be characterized by catering to an audience that has expanded, whose desire to connect has taken on additional pathways, and whose fears of large places and crowds are in the front or in the back of their mind.  Event planners need to determine those elements of their event designed to inform, educate, motivate, recognize and provide connections and determine which of those elements are best in a live environment, a virtual environment or both. We need to expand our concept of time, recognize that we now have extended timeframes to engage our audiences from our digital platform and more people willing to come earlier and stay longer.  We need to be smarter about budgeting and understand that a having both a live and digital environment will inevitably be more expensive but has the potential to deliver greater revenue from a larger audience and produce analytics that make the investment worth it.   The next time you watch a football, baseball or basketball game on TV, and see people in the stands, you are in the middle of a hybrid event.  It’s the same game, just delivered in different ways to different audiences.  Now we just need to change our game, embrace hybrid and be smart about how we let our audiences attend the same event, but experience it in different ways. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Registrants do not Always Equal Attendees
Hi This is Brent Palmer, I run marketing for Cloud Conventions. Today we will be running through one of the top mistakes to avoid when running virtual events. We will focus on engaging your audience so that a registrant becomes an attendee. ...
podcast
Hi This is Brent Palmer, I run marketing for Cloud Conventions. Today we will be running through one of the top mistakes to avoid when running virtual events. We will focus on engaging your audience so that a registrant becomes an attendee.  When someone registers for your event that does not necessarily mean that they will actually attend. This may seem counterintuitive to many, I mean if someone went through the effort of registering, they will certainly attend. Wrong, weirdly enough we have seen time and time again, that is just not true, even where attendees actually paid to be there.  Poor attendance can be for a variety of reason, events that fail to stay in touch with their registrants for example, events that don’t generate excitement, or events that open registration too early may see big numbers in their reg list, that end up not translating into attendance. I have worked many events and have definitely seen some with thousands of individuals registered, but a disappointing turn out. Now there are certainly situations where attendees can’t be there due to unforeseen circumstances, but mostly it is a lack of communication or other major factor that we will cover, that influences whether or not attendees actively participate.  From my experience as a marketing professional here are the mistakes I see events making in not being able to translate registrants into attendees. Mistake #1:  Not connecting before the event. You may take registrations well in advance of opening the event platform. If registrants are not reminded that you are out there and why they registered to begin with, they won’t attend. You have to communicate frequently to stay top of mind to turn registrants into attendees. Encourage them to block off their calendars and take pre-show actions like allowing them to network or connectwith other attendees or exhibitors, preview show sessions or offer early registration and give them the session schedule, offer scavenger hunts to earn points,  provide access to some on demand content and get them excited for content that will be live once the show starts. Mistake #2: Not showcasing the fun factor If you just communicate about the event, the sessions and the speakers, you’ll hide a potential “wow” factor that would make registrants want to login and join the fun. Similar to mistake 1, connect with them and then offer some of the exciting things that will be available. Mistake #3: Disengaging the “lost causes”. Just because people haven’t logged in yet, doesn’t mean they won’t.  People do things at the last minute so you must send out emails throughout the live event to remind registrants of what’s coming up next as the event progresses to give them reasons to join. Things like a daily itinerary, whats happening, or even highlight exhibitors can help keep them coming back. One of the huge benefits of a virtual show is that once it ends, content can stay live for as long as you want. Thus you can continue to engage long after the show ended.  Mistake #4: Not highlighting key speakers & sessions You may have many speakers and sessions in the agenda, but don’t fail to highlight the ones that are important and memorable.  Once the registrant logs in and becomes an attendee, they have the time to get the full scope of what you are offering, but the recognizable names and topics will be the draw. Mistake #5: Not pointing out what they might miss Events must show attendees what they will miss by not coming.  Is this their only shot at viewing the educational content and will on-demand content be more expensive after the event? Highlight the benefits of registering and attending the live virtual conference in all of your attendee outreach. Mistake #6: Not reminding people how to login Event platforms require a login and password and if the individual registered well in advance, they have likely forgotten how to find you and open the door.  Events that don’t send out reminders and ways for people to retrieve their login will have low participation. Also, encourage them to log in, and be sure to let them know they have to log in in order to engage other attendees, exhibitors, access awesome content and more. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway The bottom line is that you have to stay top of mindshare before and as your event progresses to ensure that the individuals you worked so hard to attract into your registration engine will log in when your virtual event goes live. Months before the event start you should begin to build hype and open registration. At least two weeks before the event, you should turn up your communication to registrants and highlight high profile sessions, speakers and exhibitors to remind them about what is coming up.  In your event design, you should have built in some “wow” factors and fun elements that you can promote to this audience as well.  Make sure to mention the things that they can only experience by coming to the event. And then let’s focus on the fact that many people wait until the last minute to either register or login.  That means that you still have the potential for someone to attend even if they didn’t login on the first day, so accelerate your communication during the live portion of the event.  And all platforms require a login, so if they set their login and password weeks ago, there is a likelihood they’ve already forgotten it so give them a quick refresher on how to retrieve it. One of the key performance indicators in event success is the ratio of registrants to attendees and you can tip that ratio in your favor if you communicate often, highlight what is special about the event and remind people how to attend. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
The Virtual Event Pivot Looking Back at 2020 and Ahead to 2021
I’ve often equated our move to virtual events in 2020 to the time right after 9/11. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, airplanes were grounded, travel came to a halt and everyone became power users of conference calls. Slowly but surely, we got back on the road again, but the benefit of ...
podcast
I’ve often equated our move to virtual events in 2020 to the time right after 9/11.   When the planes hit the Twin Towers, airplanes were grounded, travel came to a halt and everyone became power users of conference calls.  Slowly but surely, we got back on the road again, but the benefit of holding remote meetings and sales calls was permanent and business adopted conferencing into the way they communicated. The move to virtual events in 2020 came on slowly as people believed we’d be back on the tradeshow floor in the summer.  But the harsh reality of the virus caused trade shows, annual meetings, conferences and summits to all go virtual.  Unlike simple conferencing, virtual events proved to be much more of a challenge because people were unfamiliar with technology, struggled to translate their live event into a new medium, and faced criticism for attendees who were bored and exhibitors that didn’t get a return on their investment. Our company may have been one of the first to launch a virtual tradeshow in May with Cloud Conventions 2020 for the telecommunications and cloud industry, attracting 4,000 attendees, delivering 78 sessions and adding 30 sponsors.  By all counts, it was a huge success and launched the Cloud Conventions virtual event program that has seen Convey deliver large trade shows, association and non-profit conferences, annual summits, and continuing education conferences.  We not only provided technology but partnered with our customers to help create the program design and help exhibitors learn how to manage themselves on a virtual platform. And I have to say that reviews were mixed.  Some of our events engaged attendees, provided great content and had “wow” moments, but others fell flat failing to convert registrants into attendees, having people login only not to come back after the first day, and having little booth traffic.  We’ve been learning right along with our customers, adjusted our strategy and improved our technology, and think those lessons will serve us well as we position for another strong year of virtual events, even when live events come back late in 2021. Here are some takeaways from delivering Cloud Conventions programs for a diverse and significant number of customers in only 6 months in 2020: You must work harder to attract your audience.  It is true that you can have a much bigger audience in a virtual world without the expense and logistics of travel.  It is not true that you don’t have to work to get that audience to pay attention, register and actually login.  People are being inundated with invitations to come to a virtual event, so your marketing, your partnership with sponsor marketing and an understanding of what motivates people to show up is more critical than ever. You must eat a balanced diet when it comes to event design.  If you think that a series of educational sessions is enough to hold people’s interest, think again.  You have to add a balance of education, social networking, planned breaks, and other activities in the design.  That brings me to the fact that attendees must not be treated as passive listeners.  If all attendees have to do is listen to a webinar speaker, they will check out, big time!  Attendees want to be part of the action, by sharing their experiences in a roundtable, participating in a discussion forum, being part of the panel discussion, networking with each other in breakout rooms, and the list goes on. Exhibitors need 3 basic things to get the right ROI.  I have seen very complex exhibitor packages for virtual events, but it really boils down to only three things exhibitors care about:  Will attendees find my booth?  Can I interact with them?  Will they take a call to action I find valuable?  And at the end of the day, will all of that produce a lead?  Program design should find ways to get people into the booth and create a booth that is designed for interaction and calls to action. Exhibitors can enhance the event program.  Exhibitors often represent large companies with lots of resources.  Let them be part of the program by creating sponsorship packages that allow them to showcase their talents in sessions, be part of a pavilion, design and lead the coffee break or host the roundtable.  With the right direction, these elements don’t need to be a giant commercial, but rather offer industry insight and expertise.  Data and sales lead delivery is critical to exhibit success.  The event host needs to know if the audience is logging in and engaged and make game time decisions to improve.  Exhibitors need to know people are in the booth, what they are interacting with, and how they will get their lead reports in either real time or very close to the event close. Exhibitors must be committed.  If an exhibitor fails to set up their booth, does a bad job, doesn’t learn how they can be part of the program, then their ROI will be exactly what they put into the event.  They have to commit to the program, not just look at the event as a necessary evil.  I’ve talked to committed exhibitors that got double the sales leads from a virtual event and others that had disappointing results because they didn’t take that event seriously and learn how to maximize their opportunity. Event hosts must be organized, follow a timeline, and get the details right.   You can’t set a good virtual event up overnight.  There is a need to plan the content strategy, get a plan together to attract and secure sponsors, time to plan social and engagement sessions, and time needed to set up the technology platform.  Last-minute decisions without thinking them through create chaos, poor event execution and a bad experience for attendees and exhibitors. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway We all had to make a hard pivot in 2020, so we should congratulate ourselves in launching virtual events that connected buyers to sellers, allowed people to get their continuing education credits, keep an association and non-profit financially viable, and providing education and strategies the audience craved. Having said that, we need to step up our game for 2021.  It’s time to take the lessons we learned, change our thoughts on event design, use technology strategically, partner with our sponsors and exhibitors and keep the attendee experience at the forefront of our strategy.  Virtual events will dominate 2021, but when live events return, they will enhance the live event by widening the audience, offering extended education and content, and keep attendees engaged past the 3 days at the tradeshow. This is the first in a podcast series designed to take the lessons we have learned and offer ideas on how to operationalize them as we plan our virtual events for 2021.  2020 was the year of the “pivot”, but let’s all commit to having 2021 be the year we get it right. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
The Best Insurance for Live Events
We are getting more and more confident as more of us get vaccinated, feel comfortable to get back on an airplane, and are ready to connect at tradeshows and conferences. Just to be on the safe side, event organizers are delaying their live shows until August and beyond to make sure that their ...
podcast
We are getting more and more confident as more of us get vaccinated, feel comfortable to get back on an airplane, and are ready to connect at tradeshows and conferences.  Just to be on the safe side, event organizers are delaying their live shows until August and beyond to make sure that their audiences are ready to hit the show floor. If we had a crystal ball and could have predicted how disruptive 2020 and 2021 would have been, I’m sure we would have gone to our insurance brokers and added “pandemic” as a trigger for being compensated if an event couldn’t go live and stage in Vegas, Orlando, Chicago and beyond.  So, as we get ready to go live again, how should we ensure that our audiences can see those new products from exhibitors, get their CE credits, and connect with each other?  And that our event can fund our budgets and make us a profit? If we have learned anything from the last year, it’s to expect the unexpected.  Most of us were caught off guard, had to do a hard pivot to virtual and scrambled to get the event online vs. in a physical location.  And we had mixed results because designing a virtual event was new to all of us without a blueprint to rely on. The temptation was there to try and recreate the live event online which often disappointed our attendees and vendors.   So, if you are feeling relieved that you don’t have to resort to virtual, here is something all event planners need to consider.  Hosting a live event with no digital fallback is a very dangerous proposition.   We need to expect the unexpected, plan for a reduced audience that travels, and be at the ready to stage our event, no matter what the circumstances.  In other words, having a virtual strategy is the best insurance against disappointing your audience, not reaching enough people and not providing value to exhibitors who are likely the biggest contributors to your event revenue. Now I know that many of you would rather not have to plan for two different arenas, live and virtual, but here’s some misconceptions about the impact of adding a virtual component and compelling reasons that you should rethink things if you are still on the fence about going online. Misconception #1:  Having a virtual option will reduce live attendance at the event. You may think that your audience will either take part virtually or in person, that there is no in between. You may think that by hosting a hybrid event, you split your total attendance. However, the opposite is true. Hybrid events allow you to increase your reach and gain more attendees, not fewer.  A recent study found that 98% of attendees that planned to go online were not planning to attend live anyway.  That means you have now captured an entirely new audience that would not have come to the live show. Another poll of event organizers showed that for those who had already hosted a hybrid event, they found that more attendees were likely to show up at the next live event and 65% said attendance was even higher than the year before. Misconception #2:  Virtual options decrease engagement inside the live event. It’s easy to draw the conclusion that if you have a virtual option, people will sit in their hotel rooms, fire up their computer and go to the virtual exhibit hall or attend sessions online.  The reality is that virtual options actually open up more opportunities to engage.   You can use a virtual option to help live and virtual attendees network with each other. You can dedicate one area for in-person meetings and have a second area for those with virtual meetings, scheduled by matchmaking software.   Attendees may choose to attend some of the sessions online leaving them more time to be in the exhibit hall or connect in person.  The virtual booth extends the hours an attendee can connect with the exhibitor.  Instead of decreasing engagement, virtual options give you more choices. Misconception #3:  Sponsors will dislike having to manage a virtual booth. For many virtual-only shows, sponsors didn’t get the ROI that they had hoped for.  But for a hybrid event, virtual booths open up new opportunities to engage attendees and get leads.  As I said before the virtual booth extends the time an attendee can look at a booth’s content.   Exhibitors can conduct virtual in-booth sessions to demo their product or meet the team.  And attendees leave a digital footprint when they view a booth and its content.  Now you know what attendees look at and who is looking vs. guessing what they are interested in when attendees do a “drive by” down the exhibit hall aisles. Misconception #4:  The ROI for my event will be reduced if a hybrid option is introduced. The question of ROI is really a tricky number to get right, but here are some signs that adding a virtual option increases your return on investment vs. reduces it.  First, your audience is wider because there are no budget or geographic barriers to attend.  Because these people are online, you don’t have to increase your investment in physical infrastructure to accommodate them.  You can attract more vendors who may not have had the budget to travel and send their team.  And the list goes on and on.  Virtual is inexpensive, easy and widens the net in how you can generate revenue. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Right now, we don’t know enough to say for sure how COVID 19 has change the behaviors of our event audiences, but what we do know is that how we use technology in our daily lives has shifted dramatically.  All of us had to work from home at some point in 2020 and at least half of the workforce has not gone back to the office.  Sponsors have shifted their budgets and reduced their reliance on travel. Hybrid events are your best insurance policy that you can stage your event even in the face of travel, weather or medical disruptions.  You can meet the needs of an audience whose needs have now changed, and you can give your audiences more ways to learn, connect and engage to make your live show even more relevant.  Having an event portfolio that only has a live option is like having a restaurant with only one item on the menu.  It’s too much of a risk in the world we live in today. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Expectation Gap
Attendees have logged in but are confused about what to do next. Exhibitors don’t know if anyone is looking through their booth. People are expecting big things from the event, but don’t know how to navigate, find the right sessions, explore the exhibitors they care about and find all the ...
podcast
Attendees have logged in but are confused about what to do next.  Exhibitors don’t know if anyone is looking through their booth.  People are expecting big things from the event, but don’t know how to navigate, find the right sessions, explore the exhibitors they care about and find all the ways to connect with each other.  If there is a gap in what people expect and what you’re delivering, attendees and exhibitors will walk away dissatisfied.  As an event specialist for Cloud Conventions, I’ve watched my customers meet or exceed expectations and also felt the disappointment when there is an expectation to delivery gap.  Here are some mistakes to avoid in setting the right expectations with both attendees and exhibitors. Mistake #1: Creating anxiety comes from unmet expectations Before the event launches, let your attendees and exhibitors know the basics like show hours, when sessions are held and the time to visit with exhibitors.  Let everyone know what the event will deliver and how you plan to do so. Mistake #2: Not teaching people how to navigate Because everything is now virtual these days, that means attendees and exhibitors have been on a variety of platforms.  Make sure people know how to navigate through yours and where to find the things that they need to participate. Mistake #3: Lack of focus on what’s important If your event has a lot going on, help people focus on the top few things to remember for that day.  Communicate the most important sessions, experiences and opportunities. Mistake #4: Unclear expectations for exhibitors Virtual events have attendees jumping in and out of exhibitor booths, but maybe not when exhibitors think they are.  Prepare your exhibitors about what to expect for in booth traffic and give them a strategy to attract attendees to them with in-booth sessions, demos, giveaways and show specials. Mistake #5: Not staying in touch daily Your event has different ways to get involved each day so constant communication helps people know what to expect.  Reach out several times a day during the event to let people know what’s coming up and add a site-wide announcement to focus on the important happenings. Mistake #6: Failing to communicate issues Technology is not perfect, and speakers may not be ready when you expect them to be.  If there is a change in plans, a disruption in service, or a setback, make sure to reach out quickly to let people know you’re on top of it and have a plan to adjust. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway As I’ve learned, if there is a disconnect between what attendees or exhibitors expect and what the event intends to deliver, you’ll create anxiety in your audience.  People need to know how to navigate the platform, find what they need, understand the schedule and logistics and know what they should focus on.  Exhibitors should be coached into what is realistic to expect inside their booth during show hours.  You should communicate with your audiences daily while the event is live and if you run into any issues be proactive and let your audience know. Make sure that you leave no gaps in what to expect and what you can deliver in your virtual event. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
The Pivot: Exhibitor Lessons
Our team has watched hundreds of exhibitors across many, many virtual trade shows and conferences that we have delivered over Cloud Conventions in 2020 working directly with a large number of companies as we helped our customers stage their event. So many exhibitors and sponsors were hoping to get ...
podcast
Our team has watched hundreds of exhibitors across many, many virtual trade shows and conferences that we have delivered over Cloud Conventions in 2020 working directly with a large number of companies as we helped our customers stage their event.  So many exhibitors and sponsors were hoping to get a lot of sales leads, have a crowd of attendees enter their booth and approximate their experiences from a live event.  The reality is that most of those exhibitors walked away disappointed. Here is what we have observed about exhibitors.  Many come to events thinking it takes way less work to exhibit than in a live one.  However, they fail to realize that nothing could be further from the truth.  Although they didn’t have to ship the booth, travel to the venue and stand up all day, they did have to create a plan, prepare ahead of time, elevate their graphics design, and understand how technology can work for you or against you.   And what we also observed is that our event customers spent quite a bit of time preparing the sponsorship packages, selling the features of the virtual booth and creating a large number of sessions.  However, exhibitors were often left disappointed because the event program didn’t provide enough time for attendees to explore the booth, there were not enough ways to attract attendees to the booth and exhibitors were not provided enough ways to interact directly them. Here are some lessons that we learned about what it takes to make exhibitors succeed in a virtual tradeshow, conference or event.   Lesson # 1: Successful exhibitors do their homework and plan ahead.   They find out the type of individuals who are likely to attend to target this new audience. They look to see who is exhibiting, where they’ve exhibited in the past to get a sense of the competition.  They explore the agenda, look at the topics and incorporate those elements into their content strategy. They start early to upgrade graphics, produce new materials and get the content message in line.  They market ahead of the event leveraging the attendee list provided by the event or create one of their own and reach out ahead to schedule meetings before the event opens. Lesson #2:  Exhibitors that engage audiences in advance get better results. The time to engage attendees in a virtual event is not when it opens; it’s well in advance.  Successful exhibitors have a strategy to let the market know that they are exhibiting at the event. They tease potential attendees about what they will experience if they come to the booth and give people reasons to meet while the show is live.  Successful exhibitors use every promotional tool at their disposal including social media, email marketing and press announcements. Lesson #3: Exhibitors that understand the technology have a better experience.  Exhibitors participating in multiple events use different technology platforms that host their virtual booths, all of which are different.  Successful exhibitors get to know the technology for each individual event, gain a full understanding of the features and learn how to leverage them to enhance the attendee experience.  Exhibitors must compensate for virtual booths that offer fully featured immersive experiences to those that are more basic. Lesson #4: Exhibitors must have a content strategy Exhibitors that excel know how to position themselves as experts in their industry, trend-setters and educators.  They go beyond the need to be constantly focused on selling their product and featured in sessions to showcase their expertise on their marketplace, what is trending, and the changing face of the customer.  A content strategy defines the exhibitor inside the booth as well as on the show’s event stage. Lesson #5:  Successful exhibitors learn how to build a better booth. Move around the virtual exhibit hall and visit various booths and it becomes clear to see which exhibitors have ”phoned it in” and those that worked hard to build a better booth.  Booths that attract attendees and hold their attention have compelling graphics, offer video content, upload the right marketing and product materials and have a strategy to give attendees what they need and want. Lesson #6: Tradeshows and events help exhibitors succeed when they offer opportunities to engage the attendee outside the booth. Lesson #7:  Booth design needs to create calls to action If the only thing an attendee can do inside the booth is look around, then the exhibitor has missed opportunities to get the attendee involved with the booth staff, participating in educational opportunities, or having a path to get important items delivered to them.  Calls to action enhance attendee engagement, keep them in the booth longer and accomplish what the exhibitor values most...valuable sales leads.  Lesson #8: Shows that get creative keep attendees in the platform and in the booth. Let’s face it, virtual conferences and tradeshows struggle to keep things interesting.  When the event fails to delight the audience, that gives the exhibitor an opening to step in and make the attendee experience memorable inside the booth.  The more creative the booth appears, the more the activities inside the booth are interesting, or the more the content is engaging, the more the exhibitor will be remembered.     Lesson #9: Tradeshows much provide exhibitors a way to analyze what is happening so they can adjust. Tradeshows and events need to provide their exhibitors data before, during and after the event and use that intelligence to adjust strategy.  Attendees often register for virtual events at the last minute, and sometimes don’t ever login.  Exhibitors should understand how people many are actually active in the platform to adjust their expectations.  If available, exhibitors should closely monitor booth traffic, content views and engagement to adjust their strategy mid-event if needed. Lesson #10: Virtual events should provide exhibitors ways to keep engaging their audience. Virtual events should offer extended timeframes for attendees to watch live sessions on-demand and come back to the exhibit hall to explore the virtual booths.  If a tradeshow understands that attendee engagement inside of a virtual platform can go on year-round, the exhibitor will get the number of leads they expect and stay top of mindshare much longer. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Virtual events will be an integral part of your 2021 and event hosts need to understand that exhibitors need to have ways to attract attendees to the booth, interact with them, get them to take valuable calls to action and generate sales leads.  Exhibitors have more opportunities to achieve a strong ROI in a virtual environment, but they have to put in the work to stand out from the crowd.  Successful exhibitors have to get started early with a plan, start reaching out to the market well before the show stages, learn the platform’s features to take full use of the booth experience and plan to offer strong content. Successful exhibitors build a better booth by updating graphics and adding strong visuals and think outside the booth to attract attendees through sponsorships.  Event hosts and exhibitors must get creative to make it interesting for attendees to come inside the event, come to the booth and stay with creating calls to action to generate leads.  Event hosts should provide data for exhibitors to analyze and adjust their strategy and a way to keep attendees engaged inside the platform after the live event ends. Many exhibitors were likely disappointed in their 2020 experiences in virtual shows, but there is time in 2021 to make the right adjustments to get the return on investment that makes a virtual experience worth the time and money invested. This is the first in a podcast series designed to take the lessons we have learned and offer ideas on how to operationalize them as we plan our virtual events for 2021.  2020 was the year of the “pivot”, but let’s all commit to having 2021 be the year we get it right. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Reach out in Advance
The time to engage attendees in a virtual event is not when it opens; it’s well in advance. Successful exhibitors have a strategy to let the market know that they are exhibiting at the event, tease potential attendees about what they will experience if they come to the booth and give people ...
podcast
The time to engage attendees in a virtual event is not when it opens; it’s well in advance.  Successful exhibitors have a strategy to let the market know that they are exhibiting at the event, tease potential attendees about what they will experience if they come to the booth and give people reasons to meet while the show is live.  Successful exhibitors use every promotional tool at their disposal including social media, email marketing and press announcements. Here are some ways exhibitors can engage with the audience before the event even starts. Leverage social media Ask your marketing team to augment the social media strategy by promoting your participation in the event on all platforms that the event audience frequents (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram).  Make sure to use the right hashtags that identify the event as well as your company. Discover the power of video Give people a reason to notice you in “micro-moments” by creating a series of short, engaging videos that promote your participation in the event. Then, find ways to socialize those videos everywhere to keep people interested in your story and exhibit. Run email campaigns Use the list of leads from past events or your prospect list for pre-event email campaigns.  Don’t have a list?  Engage a freelancer from Upwork or Fiverr to “data scrape” and create one for you.  Email outperforms most other marketing strategies and is the promotional workhorse for successful exhibitors. Tease show specials  Exhibitors that offer show specials, discounts, promotions, samples or giveaways get attendees to pay attention.  Make sure to hype your specials in pre-event promotion. Send out meeting requests Explore if the event has a meeting request or matchmaking service that allows you to target the audience you want to meet with during the event.  If you don’t have access to event matchmaking, then consider a landing page with an embedded online calendar to attract attendees and encourage them to schedule a meeting once the show stages. Sponsor event outreach While exhibitors are attempting to reach their audience, the event’s outreach is in high gear.  Explore sponsorship opportunities to appear in newsletters, social media promotions or other event-sponsored outreach to take advantage of the event’s promotional engine.  Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway I’ve known exhibitors to be disappointed that they spent lots of time, money, and effort into building their virtual booth, but ended up having little attendee engagement.  You don’t have to wait for the event to go live to begin engaging with attendees, and the secret is to begin your outreach strategy early.  Leveraging social media, email campaigns, and show specials are all powerful tools to attract attendees to your company before the event even begins.  Foster engagement using the outreach tools at your disposal, and don’t overlook the powerful promotional advantages of participating in sponsorship opportunities.  Successful exhibitors use every tool at their disposal to make their presence at the show known, and incentivize attendees to visit their booth.   Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Think Outside the Box
The booth is only one segment of the event platform and successful exhibitors know how to place themselves outside the booth to elevate their profile. Sponsorships offer exhibitors advertising placements, sponsorships of sessions, the opportunity to host the social sessions and coffee breaks, have ...
podcast
The booth is only one segment of the event platform and successful exhibitors know how to place themselves outside the booth to elevate their profile.  Sponsorships offer exhibitors advertising placements, sponsorships of sessions, the opportunity to host the social sessions and coffee breaks, have premium placements in site directories and be showcased in the exhibit hall pavilions. As an event specialist, I’ve worked on many events that offer sponsorship opportunities for exhibitors.  I’ve seen the value that these sponsorship opportunities can bring, including much more attendee engagement, recognition, and better quality of leads. Here is a list of some different ways you can think outside of the booth for a more prosperous exhibitor experience.    #1 is secure advertising placements Exhibitors that research how attendees navigate the platform will best understand where attendees land when they login and the places in the platform that are most heavily viewed.  Advertising on the home page, in popular lobbies, on dashboards and in directories get the most views and clicks.  Exhibitor ads should create a direct pathway back to the booth. #2 is to sponsor event sessions for agenda appearances Exhibitors that sponsor event sessions get their logo on the agenda page and on the session landing page with links to the exhibitor booth.  When the session launches, the exhibitor may have the opportunity to introduce the speaker or give a quick overview of the company and have then the audience land back in their booth when the session is over. #3 is to host a coffee break or cocktail party Savvy exhibitors offer to direct and manage social sessions like coffee breaks or cocktail parties to elevate their profile.  Social sessions give the exhibitor an informal way to connect with attendees, show the lighter side of the company’s personality and invite attendees to get to know you better.  Social sessions should have a host, panelists, a moderator and a theme to make them interesting. #4 is to find ways to appear in site directories Before the event launches, exhibitors need to find out what directories will be present during the show and how to appear in them.  Directories go beyond lists of exhibitors in the exhibit hall and may include things like new products, show specials, in-booth sessions or giveaways. #5 is to get into the Pavilions Many shows organize their exhibit halls into pavilions where like-minded companies and attendees can socialize, participate in sessions that are delivered on the pavilion stage and have new ways to highlight themselves.  Being part of a pavilion increases an exhibitor’s exposure. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway There are so many more ways to gain exposure and bring people to your booth than simply building a better booth.  Sponsorship opportunities can be a powerful way to get your name out there and showcase your company.  Host fun and interactive social sessions, take advantage of advertising opportunities, and find ways to appear in the agenda and directory pages.  Attendees spend a lot of time browsing the agenda and directories, and premium placement on these areas of the event site are excellent ways to help guarantee strong leads and a successful, prosperous exhibit.  Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Build a Better Booth
Move around the virtual exhibit hall and visit various booths and it’s clear to see which exhibitors just ”phoned it in” and those that worked hard to build a better booth. Booths that attract attendees and hold their attention have compelling graphics, offer video content, upload the right ...
podcast
Move around the virtual exhibit hall and visit various booths and it’s clear to see which exhibitors just ”phoned it in” and those that worked hard to build a better booth.  Booths that attract attendees and hold their attention have compelling graphics, offer video content, upload the right marketing and product materials and have a strategy to give attendees what they need and want. I’ve assisted countless exhibitors set up their virtual booths, and I’ve seen some exhibitors really do a great job to create a dynamic and captivating booth, and some that just miss the mark.  Here is a list of some strategies that I’ve seen that work really well for exhibitors.  #1 Update your graphics If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your graphics, now is the time to do it.  Memorable exhibitors know that graphics must translate into banners, decorate the booth home page, and be integral in product PDFs.  Go light on the words and heavy on the images and art. #2 Add professional video content Platforms that allow embedded or uploaded video give exhibitors new ways to capture attendee interest.  Exhibitors that become memorable create ”sizzle reels” that are short, professionally done and get the story out in only seconds or minutes. #3 Be easy to navigate Sometimes “more” is not really more if it creates confusion for the attendee.  Successful booths are easy to navigate and are not overcrowded with content.  Add links and hot spots to improve navigation #4 Have clear calls to action At live shows, exhibitors get badge scans, but often don’t know exactly what that attendee was interested in. In the virtual world, exhibitors find out exactly what the attendee wants by having a clear calls to action:  unlock the show special, ask for a meeting, request a sample or request pricing. #5 Place assets strategically Effective booths put their most important messages or calls to action where they are prominent and seen first.  Showcase the most important messages in banners, on the home page or by featuring content. #6 Make it fun to enter and stay You want the attendee to stay and look around.  Exhibitors that amp up the fun factor keep attendees around longer.  Booths can hold scavenger hunts, provide meeting lounges, chat rooms or roundtable discussions, and deliver interesting in-booth sessions. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Creating a dynamic and captivating booth is key to attracting attendees and fostering attendee engagement.  Set your booth apart from the other exhibitors to really get your company noticed by including updated graphics, videos, and strategic content.  Don’t overcomplicate your booth; make it easy to navigate, and include some clear, concise calls to action for how your attendees can engage with your company.   Put yourself in the attendees shoes to really give them what they want, and most importantly, keep your booth fun and engaging to ensure attendees remain interested.  Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Have a Content Strategy
Exhibitors that excel know how to position themselves as industry experts, trend-setters and educators. They go beyond just having sessions focused on selling their product, and instead showcase their expertise in the marketplace, what is trending, and the changing face of the customer. A content ...
podcast
Exhibitors that excel know how to position themselves as industry experts, trend-setters and educators.  They go beyond just having sessions focused on selling their product, and instead showcase their expertise in the marketplace, what is trending, and the changing face of the customer.  A content strategy defines the exhibitor inside the booth as well as on the show’s event stage. As an event manager I’ve worked very closely with exhibitors in helping them develop a content strategy.  I’ve seen some exhibitors do a really great job with this, and I’ve seen others that really miss the mark with their content strategy.  Here is a list of a few insider secrets that will help you to develop interesting and successful content.   Secret #1 is design meaningful sessions Put together educational sessions that offer true value to the audience instead of trying to hide a sales pitch under the guise of a session.  Exhibitors that deliver 2-3 meaningful takeaways position the company as experts in the industry.  Showcase staff and invite customers to participate in sessions. Secret #2 is to take sessions on the road Exhibitors that you remember find a way to get themselves on the event agenda as part of a panel, leading a roundtable or conducting an industry session.  If leading sessions is not an option, then sponsor sessions on the event agenda to align with the speaker or topic. Secret #3 is to enlist outside expertise Exhibitors that engage audiences know the value of partnering with others to deliver messages.  Add customers who can elaborate on the results of using your products and services.  Engage industry experts as panelists or speakers in one of your sessions.  Marquis speakers and presenters attract attendees to you and hold their attention. Secret #4 is to give your best elevator speech Your booth is like a billboard sign on a highway.  When an attendee “drives by”, you must get the basics in front of them in seconds.  Exhibitors that succeed know how to condense their message to relay their product offerings, their unique value proposition, and the type of customers that are the best fit.  Overwhelming the audience with content is counterproductive if the basics aren’t there. Secret #5 is to highlight what’s new Attendees want to walk away with new ideas, so exhibit strategies should focus on new products, new designs, or new trends. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Don’t forget that content is king when it comes to virtual events.  Really take the time to strategize ways you can deliver new and unique content and sessions to attendees.  You’re likely to turn attendees away if everything becomes a sales pitch, so focus on creating meaningful content and sessions that are more educational in nature, and offer real value to those that visit your booth.  Give your attendees something new and exciting to look forward to, and highlight new products, designs, and ways your company is setting trends in the industry.   Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Get Creative
Let’s face it, virtual conferences and tradeshows struggle to keep things interesting. When the event fails to delight the audience, that gives the exhibitor an opening to step in and make the attendee experience memorable inside the booth. The more creative the booth appears, the more the ...
podcast
Let’s face it, virtual conferences and tradeshows struggle to keep things interesting.  When the event fails to delight the audience, that gives the exhibitor an opening to step in and make the attendee experience memorable inside the booth.  The more creative the booth appears, the more the activities inside the booth are interesting, or the more the content is engaging, the more the exhibitor will be remembered.     Attendees will pop into dozens of booths each day of the event, so getting creative and making your booth stand out from the others in crucial.  Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your booth to really wow your attendees, and make your booth memorable. Idea #1 is to create a welcome video People expect a company or product video, but they may not expect a welcome to the booth video from your team.  Think about some out of the box ideas to create a fun and creative video that welcomes attendees into your booth. Idea #2 is to go 3D If the event platform allows you to add embed code, think about creating a 3D tour of your physical booth, product line or company.  Inexpensive 3D programs like Kuula let you select a panoramic image and drop graphics on top to make things interesting. Idea #3 is to offer speed coaching Add a speed coaching option for attendees to schedule short 15-minute sessions to get expert advice on marketing, sales strategies and more.  Embed or link to online calendars, and profile the individuals willing to be coaches.  This can include booth staff, your marketing team, external resources or even customers. Idea #4 is to offer branded giveaways Just because events are virtual doesn’t mean you can’t create a giveaway with your logo and branding.  Consider a 3rd party service to pack and ship those items after collecting the attendee contact name and address. Idea #5 is to host a VIP cocktail or dinner event In a live event, you would have had a VIP list of customers and prospects that you would have hosted at a party or dinner.  It takes creativity, but you can do the same at virtual event.  Get a list of your customers or prospects that are attending and send out an invitation for a virtual social event.  Idea #6 is to create a virtual scavenger hunt If you want attendees to really engage with all of the assets in your booth, hide clues inside of content, under banners and throughout the booth.  Attendees collect the clues, solve the riddle and get entered to win a raffle prize. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Adding a few out of the box aspects to your booth can really make your booth stand out and add a level of creativity that attendees will really enjoy.  Adding a 3D experience or a video to welcome attendees to your booth are great ways to add a level of creativity to the booths appearance, and hosting interesting or unique in-booth experiences or sessions are creative ways to really keep attendees engaged.   Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Analyze and Adjust
Smart exhibitors ask for data before, during and after the event and use that intelligence to adjust strategy. Attendees often register for virtual events at the last minute, and sometimes don’t ever login. Exhibitors should understand how many people are actually active in the platform to ...
podcast
Smart exhibitors ask for data before, during and after the event and use that intelligence to adjust strategy.  Attendees often register for virtual events at the last minute, and sometimes don’t ever login.  Exhibitors should understand how many people are actually active in the platform to adjust their expectations.  If available, exhibitors should closely monitor booth traffic, content views and engagement to adjust their strategy mid-event if needed. Here is a list of ways you can utilize data; these can be extremely beneficial in helping your company to stay updated and make any necessary adjustments.   Registrants don’t always equal attendees People that register may lose interest or lose their password and fail to login.  Exhibitors should press the event host for the number of logins vs. registrants and collaborate to help increase those numbers if needed. Check on views and clicks of content & assets Virtual event platforms and booths should be data engines to report on every interaction including visits, content views, downloads, banner clicks and forms filled out.  Knowing this data allows exhibitors to adjust their content strategy and increase ways for attendees to find their booth. Adjust calls to action If the data tells you that attendees are only looking and not engaging, then change your calls to action strategy.  Add specials, raffles, or other ways for attendees to express interest in you if they are not engaging the way you want them to.  Adjust sessions based on attendance You’ve opened your demo room and scheduled in-booth sessions, but attendance is light or non-existent.  If the data is telling you that your sessions aren’t drawing the right crowd, then cancel the upcoming sessions, change them up and see if you can enlist the event to help you promote them. Extend time to hold meetings Part of your strategy should be to set up meetings as a result of the show.  If those meetings aren’t materializing, then look at the event schedule and if there is not enough time for meetings, go back to attendees to get them to consider meeting outside of exhibit hours to extend your ability to have a one-on-one connection. Be targeted in how you follow-up The data should reveal which attendees just came to the booth and which ones truly want to interact with you.  Use this data to be targeted in your follow up. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway In the world of virtual events, data collected from the virtual booth can be an extremely helpful indicator for how your booth is performing.  It can give really great insights into what content or sessions attendees are engaging with, what seems to be overlooked, and where you should spend your time and energy making improvements.  Use this data to continuously evolve and grow your booth to get valuable attendee engagement and follow up.   The ultimate goal of any virtual booth is to get your company recognized, and build meaningful connections with attendees.  Monitor this data regularly, and use it to your advantage to get the most out of the virtual experience. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Understand the Technology
Exhibitors participating in multiple events use different technology platforms that host their virtual booths, all of which are different. Successful exhibitors get to know the technology for each individual event, gain a full understanding of the features and learn how to leverage them to enhance ...
podcast
Exhibitors participating in multiple events use different technology platforms that host their virtual booths, all of which are different.  Successful exhibitors get to know the technology for each individual event, gain a full understanding of the features and learn how to leverage them to enhance the attendee experience.  Exhibitors must compensate for virtual booths that offer fully-featured immersive experiences to those that are more basic. It's important to learn the features of the virtual booth in order to get the most value for your efforts, and create a positive experience for attendees.  After working with hundreds of exhibitors, I’ve seen great success for exhibitors who take some times to understand the technology in order to get a grasp of all the features available to them.  Here is a list of a few strategies for exhibitors to incorporate into the virtual booth and become familiar with in order to create a successful and dynamic booth.   Strategy #1 is use technology to attract attendees The liberal adding of keywords and data tags helps attendees in their search for the booth. In addition, keywords may be important in tagging content to display in directories outside the booth.  Exhibitors add in-booth demos or sessions to get attendees to meet their product team or executives. Strategy #2 is getting “Badge Scans” Some exhibitors don’t have the sponsorship level to allow them to get contact information unless attendees take an affirmative action inside the booth.  Exhibitors that understand all the ways technology captures and delivers contact information will get the maximum number of sales leads. Strategy #3 is creating calls to action Attendees expect to walk away with discounts, new product info, pricing, or even samples.  And don’t forget about the power of a raffle or giveaway.  Add those elements to the booth and forms to capture attendee information in return for getting something they value. Strategy #4 is communicating with attendees Savvy exhibitors learn all the ways the platform lets them chat, message and reach out to attendees.  They login early, explore communication options before the event and add enough staff to respond to in-booth chats and meeting requests. Strategy #5 is displaying content Exhibitors that win know how to tell their story through banners, videos and content.  They have an exhibit strategy that is graphically engaging, economizes on words, and communicates who they are, what they sell and the audience that wants their products. Strategy #6 is to use analytics wisely Event platforms should give exhibitors an on-going account of what is going on in the booth.  Smart exhibitors look at the data in their activity reports often, adjust their strategy dynamically and focus on what’s popular and dropping what nobody is paying attention to. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway In this age of virtual events, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the different offerings of different event platforms.  It’s likely that exhibitors will participate in several shows, and with that comes the need to adapt to different platforms and technologies.  Taking the time to understand that technology can be extremely beneficial and lead to a successful event.  Learn what the current platform has to offer, and use each of those tools to your advantage.  Create ways for your team to interact with attendees, and give your audience plenty to engage with using content.  Understanding how the technology captures leads and using this data strategically can lead to a strong and successful ROI, and get you the attendee engagement you need.  Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Create Calls to Action
If the only thing an attendee can do inside a booth is look around, then the exhibitor has missed opportunities to get the attendee involved with the booth staff, participating in educational opportunities, or having a path to get important items delivered to them. Calls to action enhance attendee ...
podcast
If the only thing an attendee can do inside a booth is look around, then the exhibitor has missed opportunities to get the attendee involved with the booth staff, participating in educational opportunities, or having a path to get important items delivered to them.  Calls to action enhance attendee engagement, keep them in the booth longer and accomplish what the exhibitor values most...valuable sales leads.  As someone who has worked closely and trained with a lot of exhibitors, I always recommend they utilize the following calls to action to boost attendee engagement, and really get the most value for their time, energy, and money.   #1 is to unlock a show special, discount or pricing Exhibitors should promote special pricing, discounts and create offers that attendees only get because they entered the booth AND gave their contact information to unlock the show special or pricing.  Get creative with specials to include discounts, free samples, free shipping or free trials. #2 is to jump into a meeting lounge All exhibitors have used video conferencing and there is no reason not to fire up a Zoom room during the event.  Keep a Zoom meeting open and invite attendees to visit with you inside your virtual meeting lounge.  Make sure to publish the hours, who they will meet, and what they will learn when the click the link to join. #3 is to setup a meeting with booth staff You have attendees all in one place and they have breaks between sessions creating the perfect time to make your team available for meetings.  Use the virtual booth technology to schedule meetings.  If that functionality doesn’t exist, link the attendee to your online calendar to pick a short meeting time to talk to you one of your representatives. #4 is to provide ways to ask questions or get help Make it easy for attendees to ask questions once they are in the booth by filling out a form or having chat available.  Consider adding an FAQ section to make it easy to get answers to the most commonly asked questions. #5 is to attend a demo In-booth sessions are a must-have to engage attendees.  Offer demos on new products or new features in the existing product line and remember to keep them short and focused.  Register attendees for a raffle or giveaway if they attend. #6 is to register to win a prize or giveaway A good percentage of attendees in a live event are attracted to exhibitors because they are raffling an iPhone, Laptop or gift certificate.  Make sure to think about a prize that motivates the attendee to give up their information to enter the drawing. Make it fun by embedding a trivia game as the barrier to entry. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Creating multiple ways for your attendees to interact and engage with your company is a great way to set your booth apart from others, and create a memorable experience for your attendees.  Virtual events can be just as interactive as a live event by providing plenty of opportunities to schedule meetings, utilizing a virtual meeting lounge, and providing lots of special content or show specials that attendees can unlock exclusively in your booth.  All of these strategies will keep your attendees happy and engaged for longer, and provide you with some valuable sales leads.  Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
The Insider Secrets to Exhibitor Success
Your company had to transition your exhibit to a virtual environment in 2020 and now with 2021 on the horizon, virtual events will likely be your primary tradeshow and conference strategy. This calls on you to reimagine the trade show booth, find ways to attract people to you, and create calls to ...
podcast
Your company had to transition your exhibit to a virtual environment in 2020 and now with 2021 on the horizon, virtual events will likely be your primary tradeshow and conference strategy.  This calls on you to reimagine the trade show booth, find ways to attract people to you, and create calls to action that result in sales leads.  And you want to be personal, stand out from the crowd and motivate attendees to engage.   I’ve watched hundreds of exhibitors across many the many trade shows and conferences that we have delivered over Cloud Conventions and have worked directly with a large number of them as we help our customers stage their event.  As a result, we have a front-row seat to “insider secrets” that exhibitors use to deliver the ROI they need for success in the virtual world. Companies often believe that exhibiting at a virtual event takes way less work than a live one; however, nothing could be further from the truth.  You don’t have to ship the booth, travel to the venue and stand up all day, but you do have to create a plan, prepare ahead of time, elevate your graphics design, and understand how technology can work for you or against you.  And remember, virtual events offer extended time to keep you connected to attendees even when the exhibit hall closes, and the live portion is over. Exhibitors that invest their virtual tradeshow budget in the right places have an outstanding opportunity to achieve an even-stronger ROI than they would at a live tradeshow.  Investments in graphics, videos, pre-event marketing, and sponsorship placements are worth it if attendees find your virtual booth and like what they see.  You didn’t have to pay for travel, entertainment or hotels, so reinvest those dollars to create an outstanding exhibit experience. We have launched our next eBook series and podcasts:  The Insider Secrets to Exhibit Success.  Here is an overview of what you will learn when you listen to our podcasts and download our eBook. Secret #1: Plan Ahead Successful exhibitors do their homework and plan ahead.  They find out the type of individuals who are likely to attend to target this new audience. They look to see who is exhibiting, where they’ve exhibited in the past to a sense of the competition.  They explore the agenda, look at the topics and incorporate those elements into their content strategy. They start early to upgrade graphics, produce new materials and get the content message in line.  They market ahead of the event leveraging the attendee list provided by the event or create one of their own and reach out ahead to schedule meetings before the event opens. Secret #2: Reach out in Advance The time to engage attendees in a virtual event is not when it opens; it’s well in advance.  Successful exhibitors have a strategy to let the market know that they are exhibiting at the event, tease potential attendees about what they will experience if they come to the booth and give people reasons to meet while the show is live.  Successful exhibitors use every promotional tool at their disposal including social media, email marketing and press announcements. Secret #3:  Understand the Technology Exhibitors participating in multiple events use different technology platforms that host their virtual booths, all of which are different.  Successful exhibitors get to know the technology for each individual event, gain a full understanding of the features and learn how to leverage them to enhance the attendee experience.  Exhibitors must compensate for virtual booths that offer fully featured immersive experiences to those that are more basic. Secret #4: Have a Content Strategy Exhibitors that excel know how to position themselves as experts in their industry, trend-setters and educators.  They go beyond the need to be constantly focused on selling their product features in sessions to showcasing their expertise on their marketplace, what is trending, and the changing face of the customer.  A content strategy defines the exhibitor inside the booth as well as on the show’s event stage. Secret #5:  Build a Better Booth Move around the virtual exhibit hall and visit various booths and it’s clear to see which exhibitors ”phoned it in” and those that worked hard to build a better booth.  Booths that attract attendees and hold their attention have compelling graphics, offer video content, upload the right marketing and product materials and have a strategy to give attendees what they need and want. Secret #6: Think Outside the Booth The booth is only one segment of the event platform and successful exhibitors that know how to place themselves outside the booth to elevate their profile.  Sponsorships offer exhibitors advertising placements, sponsorships of sessions, the opportunity to host the social sessions and coffee breaks, have premium placements in site directories and be showcased in exhibit hall pavilions.   Secret #7:  Create Calls to Action If the only thing an attendee can do inside a booth is look around, then the exhibitor has missed opportunities to get the attendee involved with the booth staff, participating in educational opportunities, or having a path to get important items delivered to them.  Calls to action enhance attendee engagement, keep them in the booth longer and accomplish what the exhibitor values most...valuable sales leads.  Secret #8: Get Creative Let’s face it, virtual conferences and tradeshows struggle to keep things interesting.  When the event fails to delight the audience, that gives the exhibitor an opening to step in and make the attendee experience memorable inside the booth.  The more creative the booth appears, the more the activities inside the booth are interesting, or the more the content is engaging, the more the exhibitor will be remembered.     Secret #9: Analyze and Adjust Smart exhibitors ask for data before, during and after the event and use that intelligence to adjust strategy.  Attendees often register for virtual events at the last minute, and sometimes don’t ever login.  Exhibitors should understand how people many are actually active in the platform to adjust their expectations.  If available, exhibitors should closely monitor booth traffic, content views and engagement to adjust their strategy mid-event if needed. Secret #10: Have a Strong Follow Up Strategy You’ve put most of your effort in the pre-event marketing, building out your content strategy and making your virtual booth memorable.    Now it’s time to think about the follow up.  Virtual events almost always have extended timeframes for attendees to watch live sessions on-demand and come back to the exhibit hall to explore the virtual booths.  Extend your marketing plan to include on-going follow up with attendees. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Virtual exhibits will be an integral part of your 2021 marketing strategy and you must take your participation seriously, understand that you have more opportunities to achieve a strong ROI in a virtual environment, and that you have to put in the work to stand out from the crowd.  You have to get started early with a plan, start reaching out to the market well before the show stages, learn the platform’s features so you can make full use of the booth experience and plan to offer strong content. Build a better booth by updating graphics and adding strong visuals and think outside the booth to attract attendees through sponsorships.  Get creative to make it interesting for attendees to come inside and stay and don’t forget to create calls to action to generate leads.  Use data to analyze and adjust your strategy and don’t forget to invest in follow up. We hope these insider secrets will help you learn from the best of our exhibitors to create a great virtual exhibit experience. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
Follow Up Strategy
You’ve put most of your effort into pre-event marketing, building out your content strategy and making your virtual booth memorable. Now it’s time to think about the follow up. Virtual events almost always have extended timeframes for attendees to watch live sessions on-demand and come back ...
podcast
You’ve put most of your effort into pre-event marketing, building out your content strategy and making your virtual booth memorable.  Now it’s time to think about the follow up.  Virtual events almost always have extended timeframes for attendees to watch live sessions on-demand and come back to the exhibit hall to explore the virtual booths.  Extend your marketing plan to include on-going follow up with attendees. Having worked with so many exhibitors, I always advise them to have a strong follow-up plan and utilize the following strategies.   Strategy #1 is to follow up quickly Exhibitors often collect attendee contact information all the way through the event as individuals respond to calls to action.  Use that data to segment what they are most interested in and have your plan ready to follow up within 24 hours after the live portion of the event ends. Strategy #2 is to carefully plan the post-marketing campaign Think carefully about your message to attendees and how you will deliver it.  Campaigns that work the best use a multi-media approach, retarget attendees that didn’t engage with you at the event and give attendees that did more of what they asked for. Strategy #3 is to invite people back to the booth Most virtual events don’t close their platform right away so that means your virtual booth will remain online.  After the sessions are over, invite attendees you couldn’t connect with back to the booth for a meeting or to attend a virtual demo or session. Strategy #4 is to get active on social media Use show hashtags on social media to provide feedback on the event and insights from sessions.  Share your takeaways and commentary on the industry and where you think it’s going so you continue to attract attention. Strategy #5 is to survey the attendees Avoid boring and generic follow ups and make it interesting and conversational.  Survey them to get their impressions on the show, the sessions and your booth.  Extend your show specials to give attendees more time to respond to your offers. Strategy #6 is to extend show specials Those that attend a tradeshow are likely there to find products and services that they would like to purchase for their own business or resell to their customers.  Assume that show specials are part of the attraction and extend the time you make them available to capture attendees who didn’t engage during the event. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway Attendee engagement doesn’t need to end when the live event concludes.  After spending so much time and effort building your booth and gaining attendee attention, it’s important to maintain that momentum even after the show concludes and follow up quickly.  Remember to reach out to attendees to gain their feedback, and adjust your booth and content accordingly.  Execute a post-event marketing campaign and use social media to continue to attract attendees to your booth, and to reach both attendees that engaged with you during the event, and those that you may have missed. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
The Pitfalls of the Virtual Event Industry
Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 when they heard the news that the Twin Towers were gone, and America was at war. I was running a conferencing company in 2001 and was invited to a church event that started at 9:00 that morning. My business partner and I turned off our cell phones and ...
podcast
Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 when they heard the news that the Twin Towers were gone, and America was at war. I was running a conferencing company in 2001 and was invited to a church event that started at 9:00 that morning. My business partner and I turned off our cell phones and waited for the guest speaker to start, only to be surprised and frankly annoyed at how many other people had not silenced their cell phones. When the speaker announced what was really going on, we turned our phones on, left immediately and got back to the office. For the first week after 9/11 everyone was in shock and our phones were silent as people processed then unthinkable. Then all of a sudden, our phones began to ring off the hook as many of our customers set up accounts for employees who were on a travel pause for at least 30 days after 9/11. People who had never held a conference call before were holding meetings with their remote teams, conducting virtual sales calls, and doing business on audio conferencing. But then air travel resumed, people relaxed a little and business started to get back to normal. Unexpectedly, our conferencing revenue not only held steady, but continued to grow. So, what does the business behavior surrounding 9/11 say about the event industry? I thought about this recently when I read a post on an event industry discussion forum where the question was asked, “Will the event industry return to the way it was once the Pandemic is behind us. Or is the media hype and fear-mongering that surrounds the Delta Variant be enough to scare people away permanently from the Vegas Strip or the Magic Kingdom in Orlando?” What happened after 9/11 gives us a clue as to what will likely happen to the event industry. Even though live events are returning, the industry will likely not go back to a time where there are little to no technology options to participate virtually. Here’s why: Attendees have gotten used to the convenience of going online. They can be in their pajamas and still attend workshops and sessions. Professionals can get the required certifications to maintain their licensure or professional credentials without having to leave home. If they miss the live session, no problem. It will go online in a matter of hours to watch when their schedule permits. Companies have discovered the efficiency of being a virtual exhibitor. They can still get sales leads, but not have to pay for staff to travel, be away from their job, or ship a booth. The ROI may not be as significant as a live event, but the cost is way less and the convenience factor is high. Organizations have found alternate ways to connect people. Attendees can socialize and start conversations without having to sit in a crowded bar. They can browse directories to see who is attending and connect with more people than they might have by wandering the exhibit hall. And there’s little to no risk. Events won’t cancel because of travel issues. People can still attend even if they are scared of being in close quarters. Organizers don’t have to worry about any restrictions imposed by the venue or that there won’t be enough staff in the hotels and restaurants or enough Uber drivers. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway 9/11 taught us that once technology innovations make doing business more convenient, quicker and more cost effective, it’s hard to put the genie back into the bottle. Events like 9/11 and the Pandemic, as painful as they are, accelerate innovation, streamline processes, and cause us to evolve in ways we never expected. Virtual and hybrid events are not only not going away but are now part of the fabric of how we conduct a tradeshow, manage an association annual conference, or deliver a sales kickoff. Will the live event industry return to the way it was before the Pandemic? Has the media scared us enough to stay away from live venues? The answer is that the events industry has evolved into a new model, not driven by fear tactics, but rather by the opportunities and convenience of having technology connect us in a way we never expected. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo
Podcast
What Has 9/11 Taught the Event Industry?
Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 when they heard the news that the Twin Towers were gone, and America was at war. I was running a conferencing company in 2001 and was invited to a church event that started at 9:00 that morning. My business partner and I turned off our cell phones and ...
podcast
Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 when they heard the news that the Twin Towers were gone, and America was at war. I was running a conferencing company in 2001 and was invited to a church event that started at 9:00 that morning. My business partner and I turned off our cell phones and waited for the guest speaker to start, only to be surprised and frankly annoyed at how many other people had not silenced their cell phones. When the speaker announced what was really going on, we turned our phones on, left immediately and got back to the office. For the first week after 9/11 everyone was in shock and our phones were silent as people processed then unthinkable. Then all of a sudden, our phones began to ring off the hook as many of our customers set up accounts for employees who were on a travel pause for at least 30 days after 9/11. People who had never held a conference call before were holding meetings with their remote teams, conducting virtual sales calls, and doing business on audio conferencing. But then air travel resumed, people relaxed a little and business started to get back to normal. Unexpectedly, our conferencing revenue not only held steady, but continued to grow. So, what does the business behavior surrounding 9/11 say about the event industry? I thought about this recently when I read a post on an event industry discussion forum where the question was asked, “Will the event industry return to the way it was once the Pandemic is behind us. Or is the media hype and fear-mongering that surrounds the Delta Variant be enough to scare people away permanently from the Vegas Strip or the Magic Kingdom in Orlando?” What happened after 9/11 gives us a clue as to what will likely happen to the event industry. Even though live events are returning, the industry will likely not go back to a time where there are little to no technology options to participate virtually. Here’s why: Attendees have gotten used to the convenience of going online. They can be in their pajamas and still attend workshops and sessions. Professionals can get the required certifications to maintain their licensure or professional credentials without having to leave home. If they miss the live session, no problem. It will go online in a matter of hours to watch when their schedule permits. Companies have discovered the efficiency of being a virtual exhibitor. They can still get sales leads, but not have to pay for staff to travel, be away from their job, or ship a booth. The ROI may not be as significant as a live event, but the cost is way less and the convenience factor is high. Organizations have found alternate ways to connect people. Attendees can socialize and start conversations without having to sit in a crowded bar. They can browse directories to see who is attending and connect with more people than they might have by wandering the exhibit hall. And there’s little to no risk. Events won’t cancel because of travel issues. People can still attend even if they are scared of being in close quarters. Organizers don’t have to worry about any restrictions imposed by the venue or that there won’t be enough staff in the hotels and restaurants or enough Uber drivers. Related Article: Lessons learned from 9/11? [Read Now] Takeaway 9/11 taught us that once technology innovations make doing business more convenient, quicker and more cost effective, it’s hard to put the genie back into the bottle. Events like 9/11 and the Pandemic, as painful as they are, accelerate innovation, streamline processes, and cause us to evolve in ways we never expected. Virtual and hybrid events are not only not going away but are now part of the fabric of how we conduct a tradeshow, manage an association annual conference, or deliver a sales kickoff. Will the live event industry return to the way it was before the Pandemic? Has the media scared us enough to stay away from live venues? The answer is that the events industry has evolved into a new model, not driven by fear tactics, but rather by the opportunities and convenience of having technology connect us in a way we never expected. Have an upcoming event? Explore Cloud Conventions to see how we can help. Request a Demo