Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go — when your attendees are at home, they can choose entertainment options from a growing list of streaming services. Now, this article is not about the amount of bandwidth one of these services might require on a hotel’s Wi-Fi network — although that very may well be a concern in your next room block negotiation. Instead, it’s about how these services are changing the behaviors and expectations of everyone in your audience. These are all OnDemand, watch-what-you-want, when-you-want services. No one has to turn to a certain channel at a certain time. They don’t have to be in a certain location, either. These services do what every good business should do: they fit into the consumer’s life, rather than ask consumers to adjust their lives to accommodate the business.
So what does this have to do with your upcoming conference program? Well, if you’re focusing all your resources solely on the live face-to-face education, then your organization is in the traditional cable TV category: it’s falling behind.
The Netflix vs. traditional TV model comparison occurred to me during a conversation I had at Convening Leaders 2016 with Brian Snyder, CMP, Meeting Manager at Miami-based Complete Conference Management. CCM develops a range of CME activities for medical professionals at conferences including the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy, Symposium on Clinical Interventional and the Global Embolization Symposium and Technologies. In addition to many live demonstrations and hands-on training, Snyder says that CCM is hosting live webinars for medical professionals who cannot attend in-person. There’s one problem, though. Some companies that sponsor the live webinars are frustrated when remote attendance numbers are low.
Like any meeting professional, Snyder would love to see an increase in the number of live webinar participants. However, it’s not surprising that numbers are sometimes low. Medical professionals have packed schedules. Whether they’re consulting patients, performing surgeries or training residents, it’s difficult to carve an hour out of the day for a webinar. Snyder isn’t alone, though. Other meeting planners who work with a range of audiences will encounter challenges with their schedules. IT professionals, architects, realtors — no matter who your attendees are, they may not be able to make that webinar scheduled for 10:30 AM on Tuesday. They can, however, find a spare hour at some point within the next two weeks to watch the webinar.
“Attendees crave the ability to watch educational material on their own schedules,” Carolyn Clark, Senior Vice President, Communications, PCMA and the producer of the Convening Leaders LIVE hybrid event, says. “Even those who can be on-site for the conference are only going to physically be in a very limited number of rooms. It’s why capturing content and immediately offering it OnDemand is so critical. It gives attendees the flexibility they crave so they can learn when it’s most convenient.”
“We had almost 1,400 remote attendees from around the world tune in throughout Convening Leaders,” Clark says. “We’re happy to see those impressive numbers, but here’s the reality of live stream attendance: there are always more attendees who want to be part of it. Due to scheduling conflicts, they might miss some of their favorite sessions or they might have to skip the event altogether. We’ll run an official rebroadcast on February 9, and we’ve also added individual sessions to the PCMA online library to give our community as many options to learn as possible.”
MORE: Register for the Convening Leaders Rebroadcast here
The OnDemand model doesn’t just help attendees, either. For meeting professionals like Snyder who are working to keep sponsors satisfied, the content can create even bigger brand awareness.
“Creating OnDemand learning opportunities doesn’t just extend the life of the content,” Clark says. “It also extends the investment of the sponsor and ensures more attendees recognize their meaningful support.”
How are you delivering your meeting’s content once the experience is over? Have you been able to engage your audience with OnDemand education? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.