Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, event planners have had to adapt — and quickly. Some have had just a few days, if not hours, to figure out how to translate their face-to-face events for a digital audience. During a time of social distancing, self-isolating, limits on group sizes, and, in some cases, mandatory quarantines, virtual events have become necessary. But it can be difficult for organizers to deliver a comparable experience for at-home attendees, especially while staying within budget. Often organizations and companies can’t afford to livestream every session of their meeting in real time. To solve that, Digitell offers a cost-effective, and long-trusted, virtual events strategy.
“For the past 10 years, when a client asks us to livestream their conference, we don’t tell them to livestream every session,” Jim Parker, president of Digitell, tells PCMA. “We livestream one room for the duration of the meeting, that attendees can interact with via chatting or polling, and then make the other sessions available on demand.”
In early March, once the coronavirus outbreak escalated in the United States and the Centers for Disease and Control recommending postponing or canceling in-person events of 50 people of more for the next two months, Digitell started getting calls from clients, asking to convert their face-to-face meetings to webinars. But to convert a 60-session meeting into 60 livestreams is costly and, as Digitell has learned, unnecessary. “The reality is, when you go to a meeting, you only go to one session at a time anyway,” Parker says. “So, we’re really doing the same thing we’ve done for years.”
As part of its virtual events package, Digitell can pre-record all of an event’s education sessions, making them available at an easy-to-navigate online library — except for the one track the organization wants to livestream for the duration of the event. Delegates have the ability to interact on the platform, and organizers have access to the data surrounding their event. While livestreaming every session would cost upwards of $100,000, with the Digitell platform, meeting planners can now get a live feed and digital library for less than $40,000 — cutting the cost of a virtual meeting in half.
“One of the keys to this model is the fact that attendees are still able to attend an equal number of session hours, as if they attended the physical meeting, allowing them to earn the same number of credits,” Parker says. “Over time, you will be able to increase the number of live sessions as you build your audience and grow your online community.”
Some of the organizations that have utilized Digitell’s technology include the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which previously delivered virtual events and tutorials for doctors preparing for their board exams, and the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). IFM’s Dr. Robert Luby was able to virtually address an at-home audience in between sessions during a hybrid event held by the organization earlier this year, adding extra value for those who couldn’t attend in person.
“In my opinion, this is in some ways better than being there,” Karl, who attended the IFM event virtually, said in feedback about the event posted on the Digitell website. “I’ve done all others in person and developed a great ‘tribe,’ but having this input and experience is amazing.”
Digitell’s system is not only cost-effective, but is easy for planners and attendees to use and can be implemented in a time crunch. “It is the easiest to execute, the least expensive to create, and it provides your registrants with a product that delivers the entire meeting in one package,” Parker says. “A win-win-win.”