Sadly, due to the recent coronavirus situation we are now living in a time (hopefully briefly) where businesses have been requested to turn to virtual or online event solutions. This being an alternative to large, in-person gatherings. Numerous virtual conferences and tradeshows have been canceled (Esri DevSummit, AdobeMAX, Google I/O) and alternative solutions are now being planned in favor of the traditional, in-person gathering in a confined venue space.
As marketers and conference planners scramble to provide a solution, many of them are left wondering what platforms and services are available to provide a suitable alternative for their event attendees. For the smaller events (less than 1,000) options might include a popular hosted, webinar-style experience like WebEx or GoTo Meeting. Creative minds might record speeches and presentations, sharing the recordings via YouTube, Vimeo, or other online video hosting solution. Livestreams are also popular with presentations being served through Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live, Twitter Live, and even Instagram Stories. These are all fine options for streaming a relatively short presentation to viewers, however, to provide a robust, interactive, branded, cloud-hosted conference, the previously mentioned options will fall short.
Withing the specialized, GIS/Geotech industry I suspect that we will see conferences turn to a livestreamed opening day plenary webcast which we have become accustomed to in the past (think Apple, ESRIUC, DevSummit, Google I/O) with additional, “premium” training sessions and other learning opportunities streamed WebEx style to subscribers or paying attendees. Honestly, this is nothing new and solutions exist to host, manage, and deliver this (example, I recall Geocortex has hosted a virtual, online user conference for several years now).
Below is a list of several virtual conference platforms to consider:
6Connex – this is a robust, cloud hosted solution that enables you to host a conference-style online event, complete with resource center, educational panels and sessions, live or recorded meetings, social media integration, networking lounge, even an exhibition hall. This is definitely a cool solution that will enable your team to create a branded, virtual conference experience that emulates a traditional conference experience.
VFairs – This platform is suitable for those wanting a hosted online tradeshow experience, conference, tradeshow, virtual job fair or ?? From the creators… “With virtually no learning curve required, attendees derive value from the word “Go”. The immersive graphical environment enables them to easily browse valuable content, use chat tools to network with exhibitors and attend webinars for learning.”
Virtual Summits – This service provides the full spectrum of services that the conference planner will need. The developers boast the full stack, taking attendees from your landing page to registration, session delivery, notifications and more. For the event planner, you’ll have access to a membership creation system, speaker materials archive, schedule builder, and even tools to secure conference sponsors. This one is a definite one to consider but bring your checkbook!
Workcast – These guys are a big player in space and have hosted thousands of online conferences. This cloud-based solution boasts the ability to support up to 50,000 attendees while also enabling user engagement and reporting.
There are many solutions available with your choice depending on many factors including the number of expected attendees, branding, user engagement, interactive content, and more. Keep in mind, that you will also require a robust solution to provide user registration, communication, and secure payments. You might select a single solution to provide everything you need, start to finish, or you might use several services to meet all your needs. Regardless, your work may be cut out for you!!
A Conference Scheduling Must!
Note, if you are interested in a fabulous event organization tool to create an event website, scheduling, agenda, and check-in solution I highly encourage you to look at Sched – it’s awesome! I recently participated in the week-long FoCo StartUp week which was managed using Sched. Oh, and the mobile app totally rocks!
So, how would you flip a planned, in-person, traditional conference to a totally online, virtual experience? Tweet me @gletham