This week we hear from Kristen Jaeger, Business Development Manager for the Harrah College of Hospitality at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She gives us her take aways from the SITE Week Ideation session on Virtual Technology for Events Right Now. This session was hosted by Wayne Wallgren, Director of Global Development at GlobauxSource; Liz Connors, Global Director of Solution Sales and Marketing at MB4 Productions; and Brandt Krueger, Technical Producer at Event Technology Consulting.
Meet our SITE Week Ideation Session Scribe:
Business Development Manager for the Harrah College of Hospitality at University of Nevada, Kristen specializes in certificate based, adult hospitality education, bringing high-impact professional hospitality programs to organizations across the world. Kristen has over 20 years of hospitality related experience and has held executive positions with organizations such as AAA National, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and USA TODAY newspaper.
In both Kristen’s work and leisure time, her favorite hobby is travelling and she has been to 20 countries.
It was a privilege to serving as a scribe for an educational session during SITE Week. Although I am not an incentive travel professional or meeting planner, I am a huge supporter of the hospitality industry through my work at the Harrah College of Hospitality. It was a pleasure to learn about all about the exciting innovations which will make the business events industry safer, and even more exciting.
The virtual session I was assigned to blog about was Technology Right Now; Its Importance in Communication and a Lesson on Maintaining your Digital Security. When I tell you, that this is a topic, I know very little about, I mean VERY LITTLE. It’s something that I have such limited experience with, that I even had trouble logging in for the session (after practicing the night before!), and consequently, ended up in the wrong virtual space. I accidentally landed within the panelist’s screen! There I was at 8:00 am, not expecting to be visible, and boom there I was, broadcasted to hundreds of virtual attendees, with nothing to say, since I was supposed to be watching.
Thank goodness, in this virtual world of today, I am always camera-ready: makeup…check, hair…check, ring light…check. This situation made it painfully obvious to me that I had a lot to learn about this particular subject matter. As it turned out, I was glad that I was assigned to this session. To me, all the panelists were creative geniuses and I learned about fun things! Nothing you would see on the usual Zoom meeting and I even got excited about all the tools, products, and ways to earn additional revenue and security. This session was all about creating fun and who doesn’t need more fun in their lives?
How to Create a Better Virtual Atmosphere
There are many ways to improve your virtual appearance either individually, or as a company. With a straight Zoom you get fatigued, so we should lean into the technology. Here are the things you can do right away for a more effective virtual meeting:
- Increase the Collaboration (improve your Wi-Fi challenges),
- Increase the Polish
- Make an Agenda
- Think through the User Experience
- Have an Old-Fashioned Conference Call to change it up (sometimes no video helps)
- Incorporate Team-Building Games
Fun, Engaging ways to enhance your Virtual Event
On a video meeting, you can send private or group messages. This feature is a great way to share links, clarify what someone said on the video call, or post lists or large blocks of text.
SocialPoint Virtual Prize Wheel:
For virtual trade shows you can control the grand prize, always have prizes in inventory and make the wheel match your brand colors. Prizes can be a virtual shopping spree – making the virtual wheel real.
Make brainstorming idea sessions more effective by getting your team members to submit their ideas or suggestions before the virtual meeting. Once in the meeting, review the ideas together. Voila, instant engagement!
A space where people choose their conversation partners/groups by approaching others, just like in real life. You simply go online, choose a “conversation circle” and join in. If you’re bored, you can leave and join another circle, a virtual cocktail party!
Virtual Wine Tastings:
Where the same wine is purchased by the attendee or sent by the meeting organizer for added fun.
A meal kit may be sent to the attendee’s home so everyone can cook or dine together.
Virtual Sticky Notes: Great for live feedback
Group Art: Can be used for team building exercises
Polling: Make group decisions without Groupthink
Benefits of Virtual Meetings
The panel discussed many benefits of virtual meetings. Cost savings is a major one… and who doesn’t want to save money! Also, if your event is virtual, the content can live forever! Usually, there are recordings of the virtual event, so the attendee can listen live or anytime.
Virtual attendees of this session asked about the pain point… pricing for a virtual event. It’s very difficult to charge the same of a virtual as a live event. However, our panelists thought of some great ideas on rates i.e. how about “sweetening the pot?” – charge for one “live” registration and give two recorded, virtual registrations, free of charge.
Virtual Event Sponsorship
Sponsors can benefit more during a virtual meeting by pre-recording the sponsorship right into the feed so that all mistakes can simply be wiped away! During virtual meetings, attendees need breaks or breakout sessions, just like live events. This is a perfect time to show fun commercials! Think of Steven Colbert’s late night show where on the live show he talks about a fake grain alcohol while simultaneously weaving in a real commercial. Colbert references Wild Turkey Bourbon mocking the way Matthew McConaughey advertises the brand, clever, huh!?
Podcasts: audio-only virtual content
The best part about a podcast – you can listen anywhere. Your morning walk, working in the yard, on the way to work, relaxing on the patio, anywhere. Podcasting lets you tell your story with the feel of an intimate conversation, as you introduce, educate and inform. If you have a sponsor you can weave in promotions or commercials, delivering the message in a fashion that transports your listeners.
Podcasting is also very economical. All you need is a microphone; there are several good ones that are less than $200, editing software – often available for free – and hosting services (Libsyn, for example) that facilitate your distribution links to iTunes, Spotify or Google Play, just to name a few.
Security in Virtual Events
Take control of your passwords and have password managers. If you change passwords frequently, or use easier passwords, they are less secure. The panel suggested paid passwords and recommended Lastpass and Dashlane. They were all in agreement it is worth the money. Another recommendation is to get a VPN on your mobile devices.
In conclusion, I learnt a lot during this session! Virtual and hybrid events are going to be par for the course for the foreseeable future and it was both useful and refreshing to troubleshoot ideas with this panel. Onwards and upwards!
Written by Kristen Jaeger, University of Nevada
If you need further information, please contact the panelists directly:
- Wayne Wallgren – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Liz Connors – email@example.com
- Brandt Krueger – firstname.lastname@example.org
SITE Week Ideation Session Series:
SITE Week saw SITE Global hosting 46 Ideation Sessions over the course of 2 days, 2 times zones, and catering to over 1500 registrations. The idea was simple – facilitated brain-storming to help us all prepare for the road ahead, collaborating through the sharing of thoughts, insights and perspectives from across the globe, while collaborating and celebrating the togetherness of the larger SITE community. A scribe attended each session, with the role of articulating of his/her thoughts into an informative article which would be a summation of their takeaways from the session.