Tahira Endean has managed several digital and hybrid events during her career, but she recognizes that they continue to evolve, so you have to stay on top of the latest tech developments. As an event producer at BC Innovation Council in Vancouver, she focuses on the annual #BCTECH Summit that brings together people from industry, government, and post-secondary research along with 2,000 students. The event doubled attendee expectations in 2016, its first year, and doubled again in 2017. She earned her DES certification in 2016, thanks to a scholarship provided by Meetings + Conventions Calgary.
What prompted you to pursue DES certification?
I believe we get better at what we do through a combination of experience and education. With the ongoing changes to sharing information digitally, I thought it was time to put some formal education parameters around what I had learned through experience —aka “the hard way” — and update my knowledge.
How specifically are you using digital and hybrid events at your organization?
When the rubber can’t hit the road, your audience still can learn and engage — from their desks or anywhere — with WiFi or an internet connection. They can participate, ask questions, leave comments, and “meet” other virtual attendees. For the Summit, we offer two streams — one focused on our adult demographic and the other is a full Youth Innovation Day program focused on students in grades 10–12. We stream both so the widest audience can participate.
What is the future for digital events?
The future of digital events is strong. There are realities of limited time and travel dollars and security concerns limiting face-to-face opportunities. Digital will continue to be important with easy access to and comfort with digital learning and connection for ever more remote/nomad workers, ubiquitous mobile use, and a growing workforce of digital natives — combined with simple platforms providing a range of interactive options. It also will continue to drive a passion for face-to-face, people-centric events.
What value do you place on the DES certification?
The format of doing this in a well-structured and moderated hybrid event plus the excellent faculty they brought to the learning made this very valuable. The accessibility of the learning materials post-event is an asset to anyone seeking the highest rate of success, however they define that, when producing any form of digital event.
Are you seeing more or less interest in attending F2F events as a result of your digital/hybrid efforts?
We won’t be the first to say we have increased attendance and several studies have shown that attending virtually creates a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and can be one of your best marketing tools for future events. often attend events virtually and you always see comments in the chat rooms with virtual attendees planning to be there next year, taken in by watching others connecting and sharing.
Why do you think people are reacting this way?
With face-to-face events, we have the basis for great things to happen through shared ideas, discussions, and even disagreements, which lead to deeper discussions that generate greater understanding and new bonds. This deeper contextualization of information is what we miss with a digital or hybrid event — we receive the information, we even start to process the information, but when you are in the same space as others, the information through the above discussions becomes more applicable, more meaningful. Human nature is to seek meaning, which is why we crave more than just information and why more interest in attending is created.