Posted: October 3rd, 2013 | Author: Donny Neufuss | Filed under: Best Practices, Event Planner, Events Blog, Events Industry | Tags: event technology, event webcasting, hybrid events | No Comments »
Image provided by Sonic Foundry
Creating hybrid events can be as simple as adding collaborative event technology that allows people to attend sessions from wherever they are. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. The rest includes creating a program that’s so engaging the online audience will be glued to their screens, chatting, tweeting and virtual-networking for the duration of the conference. And hopefully the online audience will want to attend in-person next year.
I’ve helped a lot of organizations add event webcasting to their events over the years, and most of them have achieved amazing results. But I’ve also witnessed some cringe-worthy moments that could have been avoided with a few simple steps.
Here’s my top 5 list of what NOT to do at your next hybrid event:
- Forget to test your hybrid technology. Let’s say you’ve partnered with what claimed to be a reliable technology provider. So reliable, in fact, that they didn’t even need to test the technology. They’ve done this a million times; surely they know what they’re doing. But every venue is different, with varying access to connections and bandwidth. Our team arrives at least a day – sometimes even a week – in advance to be sure everything is running smoothly when it’s time to go live. Do everyone a favor and test, test and retest. You’ll never regret being over prepared.
- Treat your online audience as an afterthought. They may be watching on their smart phone on the train, in the office or anywhere in between. Wherever they are, they’ll have questions, they’ll be tweeting, and they’ll want to engage. Consider having an online concierge, who can answer questions, help out if someone is having technical issues or even just tweet back at them as they’re watching the conference. Also, if presentations include exercises to engage the in-room audience (e.g. polls, group/collaborative activities, games, etc.) think of ways for the online audience to participate as well.
- Let your speakers wing it. There’s lots of speaker training out there. But when you host a hybrid meeting, you need to prepare your speakers to be successful in a hybrid environment. We recommend presenters act like the camera is an additional face in the room. Periodic eye contact with the camera makes your online audience feel connected. We also remind speakers that although the camera tracks wherever they move, excessive pacing on the stage may translate to a less than optimal online viewing experience.
- Keep all the content locked up behind a registration. Open sessions for free? To people who may not even be in your sphere of influence? Sounds counter-intuitive. You’ve worked hard to create this exclusive hybrid event and you set the right price for the online pass, so the last thing you want to do is open up sessions for public viewing, right? My anecdotal research tells me that if you open up one or two sessions – a keynote or a particularly interesting plenary session – and promote it, you’ll generate more engagement and interest in your conference and your industry.
- Save all the good stuff for in-person attendees. The perks of attending a conference in-person are abundant. Attendees get the gift bag at registration, a red-carpet invite to all the cocktail parties and entered into the prize drawings. All because they showed up. Why not extend these perks (minus the cocktail party) to your online audience? Send them the gift bag in advance so they have it on conference day, and reserve a prize for the most engaged remote attendee. A few small touches like these go a long way toward generating goodwill.
Written By: Donny Neufuss
Posted: October 1st, 2013 | Author: Rebecca Yetzer | Filed under: Best Practices, Case Study, Event Planner, Events Blog, Events Industry | Tags: event management, event planning software, event websites, online registration system, ROI | No Comments »
Here’s a post from Christine Ottow at ACTIVE Network; who shares real-life stories from customers that have benefited from using ACTIVE RegOnline.
Visibility, data accuracy, insight, and compliance are all benefits delivered by a strong event management process that make your organization smarter. All businesses have some common needs, and each has unique needs. We find that when clients look at success stories, they often find bits and pieces of best practices that they are able to take and run with in their own environments. Can an educational institution learn from a healthcare provider? Sure! A non-profit from a brewery? Why not?
To that end, we thought we’d share some more examples of how clients are operating smarter by optimizing their online registration system and event websites:
ROI Tracking - This is always a hot topic, and events are no different.
- Cochlear Americas has integrated their internal tracking system with ACTIVE RegOnline event management software. Automated reports run through the system and track progress from prospect candidate to customer, providing insight into the sales cycle and event ROI.
Reporting & Accounting – Having one automated repository for all meetings-related data that is easily accessible is critical for intelligent and efficient business operations.
- Group Publishing hosts more than 13,000 attendees each year and requires a solution that provides extremely accurate data for reporting and accounting. Group can now quickly track responses, changes, and payments by event and across all events. Their planner estimates that she got 2 months of her life back and eliminated about 150 excel spreadsheets.
Policies & Compliance – Here’s another hot topic, and one that is fairly easily addressed in the registration process as long as it’s considered in the planning process.
- Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours has corporate goals around safety; these are supported by requiring attendees to read safety requirements and check a box during tour sign up.
- Girls on the Run St. Louis has over 200 participating schools, which made it very hard to control program processes and procedures. Now, using standard, branded event websites, all sign-ups are handled consistently, policies are controlled centrally, and the local managers do not have to be in the middle of the paperwork.
Visibility Into Revenue & Cost Cost Cutting Opportunities – If you have a live view of what’s happening and potential holes or redundancies, you can make decisions that impact your bottom line.
- Denver Biblical Catholic School is able to add new programs at the last minute if there is excess demand. In 2012, this led to $15,000 – $20,000 in incremental revenue. Additionally, within a glance, the administrators can review overdue tuition and it takes just one hour send nearly 800 students monthly statements. The visibility and the ability to act quickly have substantially dropped overdue collections efforts.
Do you have any experiences you can share about making your operations smarter and / or safer using your event planning software or processes?
Written By: Rebecca Yetzer
Posted: September 19th, 2013 | Author: Rebecca Yetzer | Filed under: Best Practices, Event Planner, Events Industry, Green Events, In The News, Social Media | Tags: Active Network, Attendee engagement, BizBash, hybrid events, meetings and events industry, social media | 1 Comment »
The pioneers of the meetings and events industry have been proclaimed by BizBash… and it’s easy to see why they are at the top of their game. The list includes the 15 Most Innovative Meetings of 2013, each with an exemplary idea that is sure to inspire your next event.
First and foremost, congrats to ACTIVE Network Business Solutions’ customers that made the top 10:
- Cisco Live (#3) was named for their social media engagement – not surprising after they received 46,000 mentions on social networks during their event! Also, during the event, attendees could ask questions via Twitter and onsite staff would respond so any issues could be resolved quickly.
- Oracle OpenWorld (#7) was highlighted for their awe-inspiring efforts for creating an environmentally-friendly event. Consulting company, MeetGreen, ranks OpenWorld at 94 out of 100 on its calculator, the highest score of any event it evaluates.
Now let’s take a look at these companies/events that are moving the industry forward to see how you can apply their ideas to your own meetings…
FIVE BEST PRACTICES from the innovators:
Events must be unique – it is essential that attendees see value and get excited about what they stand to gain during their time with you. Events like the TED Conference, Dad 2.0 Summit, and the National Automobile Dealers Association’s Convention & Expo offer free activities like massages, manicures, whiskey tastings and oxygen bars to keep their attendees entertained and relaxed. Other events – such as SAP’s Sapphire Now and the Pack Expo – focused on the onsite flow of the event with industry forums or market-specific pavilions, which cater content to specific parts of their audience so they are zoned into their expertise. A new concept is visual note-taking. Further with Ford and PS Engage both offered artists onsite that created a visual representation of the sessions either displayed at the event or shared via social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
Several companies are continuing the lead in making social media an integral form of communication inside and outside of their event. As mentioned above, Cisco Live was at the forefront this year, including a social media hub that displayed the volume of tweets over time, a leaderboard of the most active people tweeting with the event hashtags, photos shared on Twitter and Instagram, and a word cloud of trending topics.
Forging a new path for affordable events is the hybrid alternative (more on hybrid events below). The H.I.M.S.S. Conference dropped the registration price for online attendees and simply provided different access, such as on-demand access to the keynote rather than live streaming. Attendees still received a tremendous value and the event was able to capture a larger audience that otherwise might not have been able to join.
Events with a conscience are growing in popularity and every event can take part. For example, the McDonald’s Worldwide Convention as well as Hello Etsy decided to compost and/or donate leftover food to avoid waste. Hello Etsy also did their entire registration process online, used the conference program as a name badge, and provided water-filling stations in which attendees had to bring their own refillable water bottles to the event. And the Hallmark Gold Crown Retail Summit went completely paperless, giving every attendee an iPad with ALL session materials pre-loaded.
Technology and various forms of online attendee engagement are helping hybrid events gain popularity. SAP AG is one of the leaders in the creation of hybrid events and uses an online platform for year-round engagement. Also on the list was the Educause Annual Conference, which offered one-on-one training for speakers leading an online session so they knew how best to engage the streaming audience. They also encouraged groups of people from the same company to gather to experience the online conference together using just one purchased log-in.
How is your company being innovative with its events? Share your ideas and success stories below!
Written By: Rebecca Yetzer
Posted: September 17th, 2013 | Author: Izania Downie | Filed under: Best Practices, Events Blog, Events Industry, Global Event Perspectives, In The News | Tags: event technology, meeting spend, meetings and events industry, MPI, Starcite | No Comments »
Photo provided by Images_of_Money via Flickr
The recent UK Economic Impact Study released by MPI UK/Ireland presents an interesting and comprehensive assessment of the impact of the meetings and events industry on the British economy.
Here are some of the highlights that I would like to share with you:
- The UK meetings industry delivers £58.4bn to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) making an economic contribution 3x greater than agriculture
- Meetings total gross value added contribution (GVA) of £20.6bn is more than legal services, accountancy or broadcasting
- Attendees spent just under £40bn attending UK meetings alone
- Meetings industry is the 16th largest employer with more than 515,000 individual directly employed, double that of the telecoms industry
- More than 1.3m meetings were held in the UK in 2011 in over 10,000 venues
- The meetings industry contributed £21.1bn in tax revenue to the UK government
With an industry this valuable we need to start taking ourselves just a bit more seriously. Certification, measurement and spend control are three areas that need to be addressed by organizations that run events.
First, are your teams properly trained in this discipline? If not, why aren’t they? Would you employ a lawyer or accountant without the appropriate qualifications? For details on certification check out the industry trade association www.eventia.org.uk or, if you operate outside the UK, visit www.pcma.org
The second aspect associated with meetings that needs to be addressed is measurement. For example, do you know how many events your organization is currently running? What are those events about? Most importantly, why you are doing them? If you are not asking these questions of your organization’s meetings, talk to us at ACTIVE Network™ Business Solutions. Our event technology can assist you in measuring, reporting and analyzing your meetings and events portfolio so you can make better, more informed decisions.
Finally, companies need to start taking their meeting spend more seriously. If I were a CEO – with figures like this being a proven factor – I would certainly want to start looking at this area of spend and understanding it a little more. With ACTIVE StarCite™ you can track your spend with vendors and find significant savings, and efficiencies.
It’s time for event professionals to sit up and command our seat at the executive table. The way to do this is by intelligently using the right data. I’m curious to know what data insight would change the way you do business today. Feel free to post a comment below…
The full research report is available to download from www.mpiweb.org/UKEIS
Written By: Izania Downie
Posted: September 6th, 2013 | Author: Donny Neufuss | Filed under: Best Practices, Event Planner, Events Blog, Events Industry | Tags: event webcasting, hybrid events, meetings and events industry | No Comments »
Image provided by Sonic Foundry
You’ve heard of hybrid events in the meetings and events industry. You know they can help you expand the reach of your event by including those who simply cannot attend via event webcasting. But do you know what those remote attendees should experience and what the easiest and most reliable way to make that happen is?
Asking yourself the following questions will help you define your goals for webcasting your event, and help you find the right partner who can hide the complexity and execute a flawless hybrid experience.
- Live. Not all event webcasting vendors are created equal; and many of them don’t go live. Is it important to you to deliver live content to your remote audience? If so, make sure your partner and venue can accommodate that request.
- Impact on the Presenter. Will your speaker be limited to PowerPoint slides and turn them in weeks in advance? Or will they be able to simply walk in, connect their tablet or laptop and start presenting?
- Playback experience. Can the audience watch the stream from their mobile device in addition to a laptop or tablet? What’s the quality of the content being played back? Is the player customizable? Can the content be embedded into a blog post or community site and still give you all the functionality you expect? Asking these questions will ensure that every seat is a great one for the remote audience.
- Remote interaction. How can the presenter interact with the online audience? Is there polling, Q&A or a live Twitter feed? The type of audience interaction is important.
- On-demand playback. What happens after the live stream is over? Is managing that video important to you? Who is responsible for the on-demand playback and hosting? Will you get a file dump that you’ll have to sort through, or will everything you need be just a link away?
- Analytics. Analytics not only tell you in real time how much traction you’re getting from the live webcast, but they’re invaluable in figuring out what works when planning future events. What resonated? What sessions had the most engagement? What’s the most popular on-demand session?
- Scalable services. Is your event jumping from 10 breakout rooms to 50? How can your streaming provider help you keep costs down and reliably scale up?
- Security. Do you want the event to be free and open, or do you need to limit access to paying customers or exclusive members? Either way, choosing a webcasting partner who can secure your content is crucial.
- Company credibility. Is it important to confidently go through steps 1 – 8? Check references and choose a streaming partner wisely.
Written By: Donny Neufuss
Posted: September 4th, 2013 | Author: Rebecca Yetzer | Filed under: Best Practices, Case Study, Engagement Marketing, Events Blog, Events Industry, Features | Tags: event management services, event planning software, online registration services, online registration system, registration websites | No Comments »
Here’s a post from Christine Ottow at ACTIVE Network; who shares real-life stories from customers that have benefited from using ACTIVE RegOnline.
Attendee satisfaction and engagement are critical to your event’s success – so how can your event management system help? Driving engagement and satisfaction at your events is very important. Some ways of doing that are fairly straight-forward:
- Content must be interesting and relevant and delivered by credible sources
- The agenda must be well-planned and well-timed
- The setting should be appropriate in a variety of ways
- Attendees should come together for learning, fun, networking and more
We took a look through client feedback and stories to demonstrate other ways ACTIVE RegOnline clients are using their online registration system to enhance engagement. The following are great examples that may help you complement your above-mentioned efforts and raise satisfaction to the next level.
Be smart with your marketing. A gourmet food retailer is able to use their event database to pull information on past cooking class attendees to identify those most relevant for upcoming classes by interest and demographics. Group Publishing has integrated their marketing database with ACTIVE RegOnline to connect all customer touch points and effectively cross-promote offerings. This helps minimize redundancy and/or over-communication.
From your event website to your email communication to all of your event materials, be consistent with your branding. This is user-friendly for your attendees and can make life easier for your planners. Leverage templates to ensure standard brand elements are in place, as the gourmet food retailer does across their class sites. Another benefit of consistent branding? Sponsors! MPI’s Kansas City chapter has seen increased sponsorship revenue due to their ability to incorporate sponsor logos and links consistently within registration websites and all event materials.
Do your meetings or events attract organizations that send multiple attendees? One way to make their registration experience smoother and easier is to offer group registration, like UCCS Matrix Center. This can mean one registration form, one payment, and much less work.
Make sure that you don’t wait until after a meeting or event is over to utilize reporting. Unitron, Cochlear Americas, UCCS Matrix Center and other clients all use reporting on-site at events to better understand the audience segments actually in attendance overall and at specific segments so that they can customize content and experiences.
Take advantage of survey functionality. Ask attendees, speakers, sponsors and other stakeholders about their experiences. Assess your performance and set goals for future meetings. Cochlear Americas uses the survey tool to help drive a meeting cycle that drives positive change for future events.
There are many ways to be creative in thinking about levers to pull that can impact how your attendees will feel about current and future events. What are your tips for increasing engagement and/or satisfaction for events?
Written By: Rebecca Yetzer
Posted: August 27th, 2013 | Author: Don Munro | Filed under: Best Practices, Event Planner, Events Blog, Events Industry, In The News, Industry Research and Stats | Tags: Active Network, ACTIVE RegOnline, event planning, HSMAI, meeting planners, RFPs, sourcing | No Comments »
Life is good – and rewarding – when process-laden manual tasks get easier. Just ask any meeting planner who uses electronic sourcing tools and Request for Proposals (RFPs) to find event hotels and venues.
A new survey by iMeet, the meeting planner’s social network, and ACTIVE Network says: Nearly half of 190 event planners polled reported using multiple separate tools throughout the event management process—such as e-mail, Excel®, and Outlook®—creating inefficiencies and potential for errors. On the positive side, participants who use online sourcing tools said they are able to complete tasks and receive responses to RFPs from hotels, sooner.
If you’re going to HSMAI Meet National in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 4th, stop by ACTIVE Network’s booth (#5000) to pick up a copy of this fascinating study, “What RFPs Mean to SMBs: Turning Headaches into Solutions for Event Planners,” and while you’re there, spend 15 minutes with us to get a look at the new ACTIVE RegOnlineTM.
The new ACTIVE RegOnline has been redesigned based on customer feedback and will debut in the U.S. later this month and internationally in late 2013. If you’re an event planner with a small or mid-sized business, the new ACTIVE RegOnline was built especially with you in mind. Features include:
- A completely redesigned, intuitive user interface and navigation structure that simplifies event planning, promotion, and management
- Access to ACTIVE Network’s global supplier marketplace – comprising tens of thousands of hotels and venues worldwide, thereby making it simple for planners to find the right venue
- An electronic RFP wizard that makes it easy to create and submit RFPs
- Free specialist support for planners who want assistance during the planning process
See for yourself how user-friendly ACTIVE RegOnline is in this YouTube video.
Stop by our HSMAI Meet National booth (#5000) to see the new ACTIVE RegOnline in action and learn more about what meeting planners want today. See you in Washington, D.C.!
Written By: Don Munro
Posted: August 20th, 2013 | Author: Rebecca Yetzer | Filed under: Best Practices, Case Study, Event Planner, Events Blog, Features | Tags: event management services, event planning software, online registration services, online registration system, registration websites | No Comments »
Here’s a post from Christine Ottow at ACTIVE Network; who shares real-life stories from customers that have benefitted from using ACTIVE RegOnline.
Time-savings and greater efficiencies are not shocking results when you take manual processes like those found in event management and automate them. But it’s always satisfying to hear directly from clients how event planning software has made their lives easier and which metrics mean the most to them. Some examples are pretty consistent across clients, but others stand out as different. Clients come from so many different industries, and use our products for so many different types of events, that we end up with a great collection of stories.
Here are just a few stories that clients have shared with us over the past 2-3 months:
UCCS’s Matrix Center hosts an annual international diversity training event. Using ACTIVE RegOnline, they have seen efficiency impacts on several levels. Because they use our group registration functionality, their attendee organizations can register and pay more efficiently for all the people in their company or school together, as opposed to many one-off transactions – this can be a big deal for attendee satisfaction. Matrix Center also benefits from on-site session reporting that can happen right before the sessions, which saves hours of time, and speaker registration that allows bios to be easily pulled and used as content in meeting materials, saving weeks of time.
“The time savings associated with being able to run attendance reports the morning of the event, combined with having speaker detail available in the system to pull bios and other program content has been quite significant,” says Marqita Jones, UCCS Matrix Center Program Manager
Anheuser Busch’s Brewery Tours group uses ACTIVE RegOnline for tour sign ups – currently 12,000 people per year. Automating their process has led to 15% increase in sign-ups and revenue based on current tour availability, and now the team plans to double the number of tours offered over the upcoming year. Additionally, because payment now happens up front, no-shows are practically non-existent.
Denver Catholic Biblical School uses ACTIVE RegOnline to manage class registration and other events, recently experiencing significant growth – with no need to add administrative staff. They estimate that this has saved them the work of 2 full time employees. Additionally, classes can be added at the last minute and full class directories can be pulled online as needed by professors.
“ACTIVE RegOnline eases stress on administration and has saved an amazing amount of time that can be spent on all other duties,” says Linda Jiner, Administrative Coordinator at Denver Catholic. Billing students online has saved on postage and decreased past-due tuition. Between cost-savings and incremental revenue, the School estimates $90,000 in annual bottom-line impact.
And the list goes on. Look up records in seconds, not hours or days. Set up your marketing hub in hours, not days. The bottom line? Whatever type of event you hold, whatever industry you are in, online registration services can make a huge difference to your business – and your life! If you have used online registration systems, registration websites, event management services, etc. to manage different types of events, please share your experiences in the Comments section.
We’ve recently updated our list of client case studies, which can be found at: https://www.regonline.com/__resources. Each individual case study referenced above can be accessed by clicking the link in the client name.
Written By: Rebecca Yetzer
Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: Tony Lorenz | Filed under: Best Practices, Events Industry | Tags: Active Network, content marketing, meetings and events industry | No Comments »
In any family road trip in the western United States, you’re inevitably reminded of the gold rush in the late 1800’s. Hundreds of thousands of people did whatever it took to mine gold out of mountainsides, hills and rivers.
Gold was essentially worthless until someone found it. Gold was mined and bundled, then refined into finished rings, bracelets and watches.
Today, gold nuggets tumbling through a riverbed are still worthless until they are found amongst the not so precious rocks and other natural, or worse, man-made debris. It is only then that gold carries any real value.
The River Internet is rife with rich, and not so rich, content of all kinds. We are amassing so much content on the River Internet that it is becoming harder and harder to mine the gold – rich content marketing that is of great value to business consumers in the meetings and events industry. Our work, our careers and our lives are not quite as robust as they would be if we could just get to the gold. And it’s getting harder by the day to do so.
In our development of BOB.tv over the last several months, we have been in discussions with many industry leaders in associations, media companies and brands, across many verticals.
A central theme holds true throughout every discussion:
Content, especially video content, is exploding. Some industry content is very valuable. Most of it frankly is not. It certainly is not relevant to any individual viewer most of the time. The good news is that unlike precious metals, which clearly experienced a point of saturation, content is multiplying by the hour. So the challenge of experiencing great content online is getting more and more complex.
Sometimes the best solutions are the easiest to envision. In this case, it was an easy solution, envisioned over eggs and coffee at a breakfast in Washington DC with industry colleagues a couple of years ago. Industry associations especially, the original content curators, are in a position to lead their industries, together, online to a place where the best content resides for the work, career and lives of their industry colleagues.
It was almost immediately agreed amongst those same industry association executives that it is their responsibility to do so because while this content will never stop producing, the River Internet will get wider, faster and deeper.
Organizations like ACTIVE Network are equipping other organizations with the tools to deliver a more effective and efficient face-to-face experience. Those events represent the very best seats in the house, where the best content and community is, and always will be originated.
There is now a second best seat in the house for the business consumer in what will soon serve a growing number of industries. To the extent industry leading associations work together to help craft that second best seat so that it is a valuable experience… everyone will win.
BOB.tv launched on 8/5/13 thanks to the input from many industry colleagues, including ACTIVE Network. We are now building this platform – one industry at a time – to mine the gold, pull it together and then refine it so it is extremely valuable to the industries we serve.
To borrow yet another phrase originated in the Wild West – The horse is well out of the barn. We are here with our founding industry partners – ASAE, IAEE, MPI and PCMA - to channel that energy to benefit every industry sector over time.
Whether panning for gold, riding a horse, or simply experiencing great events with friends and family, enjoy the balance of your summer.
Written By: Tony Lorenz
Posted: July 31st, 2013 | Author: Rebecca Yetzer | Filed under: Best Practices, Event Planner, Events Industry, Mobile | Tags: event management, event planners, event technology, Jason Paganessi, meetings and events industry, mobile event apps, PCMA | No Comments »
This is the first entry of our Technology Innovator’s Corner series, where we will share tips from industry experts that you can take back to your own meeting and event planning.
Keeping up with the latest trends in the meetings and events industry can often feel like a job in itself. One of those trends – which you can count on continuing to play a big role in the future – is event technology.
As questions swirl around the topic and event planners try to figure out where it fits into their business, we thought it would be helpful to sit down with Jason Paganessi, Vice President of Business Innovation at the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), to get his take on the evolving trend.
Paganessi shared his top five best practices for incorporating event tech at your next event, as well as expanded his insights as to why each one is important:
- Utilize web-based and mobile event apps to create a connection for community activity
- Collect as much data as you can now and have a goal for where you want to go to
- Track the attendee journey to build better content for your attendees
- Create a seamless experience for attendees and organizers via event management
- Increase the convenience factor for the attendee
As a customer of ACTIVE Network, PCMA has been able to use our suite of technology solutions to achieve some of these best practices as well. It’s exciting to see how our technology connects with customers on an individual basis and the role it plays in taking a customer’s business to the next level.
Read the full interview to learn about each of the best practices and how they can relate back to progressing and improving your own meetings and events. It would be great to hear your tips for incorporating event technology into your business. Feel free to share your story with us below!
Written By: Rebecca Yetzer