Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 13 2015

3 Trends Transforming The Virtual Attendee Experience

By David McMillin

Last month, SXSW live streamed portions of the conference to reach fans around the world. Hewlett-Packard invited investors to its first-ever virtual shareholder meeting. Last weekend, Coachella connected with concertgoers in their living rooms. More organizations are counting on the digital world to create an engaging experience for fans, customers, employees and attendees. As the virtual experience continues to change, PCMA recently caught up with Dan Lotzof, Executive Vice President of Sales at INXPO, to get a look at what’s ahead. Here are three trends transforming the behind-the-screen experience.

1) Video isn’t always synonymous with very expensive.

As technologies like Meerkat and Periscope turn smartphone owners into amateur videographers, viewers are growing accustomed to watching plenty of content that lacks the multiple camera angles and perfect edits of big-budget operations.

“We believe that audiences are becoming increasingly comfortable with all types of quality of video,” Lotzof says. “In certain instances like a keynote or an executive presentation, high-quality video is certainly preferred. In other cases, where it might be a shorter, more interactive presentation, the quality that can be delivered via a webcam or small camera will suffice.”

“Planners should understand their audience and context or use case, then weigh the differences and tradeoffs between high quality and cost,” Lotzof recommends.

LEARN: Tools And Tips For DIY Webcasting

2) Watching a webcast no longer requires a desk.

There was a time when “virtual” required business professionals to have a computer, a desk and a table, but that era is moving into the rearview. The remote audience is no longer a captive audience with a keyboard in front of them.

“The addition of mobile devices has allowed greater access to people that are traveling and do not have time to sit down in front of a computer to watch a webcast,” Lotzof says.

Lotzof says INXPO has seen a surge in the number of attendees watching and learning via tablets. In fact, in some cases, he says that mobile attendees comprise up to 25 percent of the entire audience.

3) Everyone’s starting to tune in.

HP made some big headlines with the company’s decision to host an online-only shareholder meeting. The move surprised some outsiders, but Lotzof says he expects more organizations to adopt a similar approach in an effort to reach a wider audience. However, while more people may embrace virtual experiences, their need for face-to-face interaction will never disappear.

“We do not believe that virtual events will replace physical events, but rather offer an additional complimentary option for those that cannot attend in person,” Lotzof says.

That complimentary option is paying big dividends. Lotzof says that INXPO’s clients who hold hybrid events indicate that virtual attendees have a high conversion rate to paid memberships or face-to-face registrations. For some of the company’s clients, the conversion rates reach above 20 percent.

Interested in learning more from the experts at INXPO? Click here to register for a free webinar to learn about best practices for CEU reporting with Emma King, Vice President of Event & Learning Strategy at INXPO.


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