There’s a new three-letter badge appearing on an increasing number of meeting professionals’ LinkedIn profiles. It’s DES, the Digital Event Strategist certification, and it’s awarded after completing a comprehensive program and exam administered by the Virtual Edge Institute. As more organizations begin to understand the importance of engaging with their audiences via webinars, digital events and other e-learning offerings, the DES distinction is quickly gaining momentum.
“A few years ago, digital and hybrid events were a shiny new object,” Jennifer Kingen Kush, Director of Experience Marketing at PCMA and a DES graduate herself, says. “People were trying to figure out how they fit into the industry. Now, they’ve become a crucial piece of extending a meeting’s brand and reaching an organization’s objectives.”
“Research indicates digital events fuel a higher level of engagement with younger audience members, increase face-to-face attendance and extend an organization’s global reach,” Kingen Kush adds. “So people are earning their DES as a strategic move for their organizations that will also contribute to their own career advancement.”
Diving Into Digital
Some of the biggest names in business have already embraced digital initiatives. Consider Hewlett-Packard’s decision to host an online-only shareholder meeting, SXSW’s live stream of Edward Snowden’s 2014 keynote address or McDonald’s inaugural hybrid meeting for franchisees. As these well-known brands explore the digital landscape, Kingen Kush says more meeting professionals are looking to fill their learning gaps.
“There are so many people in the meetings industry coming into the digital space,” Kingen Kush says. “They know their organizations need to jump on the bandwagon to stay competitive, and the DES program is the most comprehensive curriculum available.”
The 16-module, 8-week live online course covers the whole spectrum of trends that are transforming the way adults learn and network remotely. From developing appropriate content to implementing new monetization techniques to tracking and measuring audience engagement, DES students graduate with empowering new knowledge.
Paving The Way To Success
However, DES students don’t all have access to the budgets and resources of names like HP, SXSW and McDonald’s.
“A lot of meeting professionals know they need to start small in the digital space,” Kingen Kush says. “A lot of organizations don’t necessarily have a big chunk of money to invest in their first set of digital experiments.”
“That’s why DES is so valuable,” she adds. “It provides the best practices and tools to help graduates make smart, cost-effective decisions.”
While it can be tempting to test every new technology available, Kingen Kush says the program is designed to offer an overview of all the new tools and their functionalities. Then, students can take a step back to determine how to apply those tools to their own organizations.
Education For Everyone In The Industry
Many meeting planners are enrolling in DES, but Kingen Kush highlights that digital education is equally important for suppliers who need to keep a finger on the pulse of the evolving needs and expectations of their clients.
“This technology will continue to transform the way audiences come together,” Kingen Kush says. “Industry leaders who represent convention centers, hotels, AV companies and mobile app providers need to understand the next frontier of digital engagement.”
“No matter what role you play in the industry, the DES program gives you a well-rounded perspective of what’s next for meetings,” Kingen Kush adds.
Interested in adding DES to your own résumé? Click here to register for the upcoming summer session.