Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Case in Point

Yesterday I posted a blog about how our industry should stop fighting so hard to prove that face-to-face is the only way to meet and use that energy to embrace new technologies and transform the meeting experience.  Today I want to give you an example why I think it is so vital.

We recently began work with a new client who's membership base is located in small, rural areas.  They hold an annual event to bring together their membership for networking, education and thought leadership.  Only a portion of the group is able to attend due to economic considerations as well as travel.  The portion that isn't able to attend has no way to connect and will only hear about the event second hand.

This year, thanks to the advancement in technology, the association will provide a virtual component by streaming general sessions, online forums, and other social media outlets.  The charge for attending virtually will be far less than the cost of travel to the conference and is expected to increase attendance at the event.  More revenue. More members connecting with other members.  More visibility for the organization.  More sponsorship opportunities. 

We are in the logistical phase of production now and when this event is over and the numbers are in, I will post a full case study complete with testimonials on the participant experience.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a corporate meeting planner for a national healthcare organization specializing in small, rural hospitals, this scenario would have been a dream come true.  We were continuously striving to find a way to connect everyone in the organization although only a portion were able to attend the annual conference due to economic and human resource constraints.  In these small hospitals, it was very difficult to have the entire management staff away at a conference at the same time, so several key team members had to stay at the facility.  Technology and social media would have been a welcome solution.

We as meeting professionals and industry suppliers have a rare opportunity.  At no other time in history have such incredible tools been available to us.  Now it is our turn to use our knowledge and skills to reinvent how people connect and learn.

1 comment:

Shawna McKinley said...

Great post and look forward to the case study!

Been thinking recently about the cost to attend virtual, or more the 'hierarchy' of it. The idea that the virtual experience should be or is the lower-value option, specifically. I actually think the reverse could be true if we step out of the box and consider the possibility. I mean I'd jump at the chance to take in a virtual experience from the comfort, convenience and company of my home or office if I felt it achieved the outcomes I was looking for. I may even attend more events than I do now. What could happen if we divert the fearful energy about preserving F2F to cultivate the quality of the virtual experience? Some great things, maybe!