The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change in the business events industry at a furious pace, with endless live-event cancellations forcing organizations to consider online alternatives. But making the decision to host a digital event involves much more than just moving an event online at the last minute. Digital events can be just as engaging — with proper preparation, which takes several factors into account. That’s the value JDC Events brings in reimagining the in-person event to be a powerhouse online experience.
“There are many who think that live and digital events are mutually exclusive, which is not the case,” said Jennifer D. Collins, president & CEO of JDC Events. “Similar to live, digital events have their own unique characteristics and power, which makes them a unique force in creatively delivering your organization’s message.”
The decision to go digital should be made based on understanding the purpose the event will serve. For example, virtual events can strengthen the organization in new ways, such as expanding the community it serves and reaching fringe members. Planners must look at the needs of the community and work to fill any holes with online content and engagement. Being thoughtful in their approach to meeting their community’s needs will help an organization wield the power of digital.
With its Single Stream Service approach, JDC will customize solutions to meet clients’ needs in a one-stop shop. Three areas JDC focuses on are event design, management, and exhibit halls.
Digital events are more than webinars. Organizers have an opportunity to provide truly engaging learning experiences in which the speakers and audience are interacting with one another. Here are three ways to make this happen:
- Know your audience, their motivations, and calls-to-action during and after the digital event.
- Make the attendees the stars of the show; eliminate heavy talking heads and create more interaction. For example, allow attendees to participate in on-screen conversations and create their own custom networking experience with personal video meetup rooms.
- Vary the way content is presented and keep it in short segments.
- Make it fun and engaging. For example, you could organize a live game of giant Jenga in which contestants are called to the screen to select the next piece to be pulled by the players. Participants will share a laugh when giant blocks topple over, and a prize can be mailed to the winner.
That fun element also can be a useful way to bring attention to sponsors. One prime example of this is branded digital swag bags. Digital swag bags can be filled with e-gift cards, discount codes, or vouchers. They can also have non-purchasable items such as white papers, a complimentary publication subscription, a donation to a choice of charities, or a link to a new phone app. JDC’s swag bag services include management, fulfillment, and distribution to event attendees.
JDC does all of this in a nimble and innovative manner, producing fully customized events for every client. What does this mean in a practical sense? Here’s one example: We educate and train speakers and exhibitors on step-by-step ways to maximize their experience and attendee interaction. This requires heavy documentation and office visits with all stakeholders in advance of the event.
Because magic happens in the booth when exhibitors can discuss solutions with stakeholders in real time, JDC seeks to provide truly shared experiences in which exhibitors can talk to participants onscreen, demo their products, and review their services.
- Next-level networking: With JDC’s solutions, algorithms match your attendees based on their titles, affiliations, or other interests, empowering them to make meaningful connections with ease.
- Exhibiting solutions: The virtual show floor provides sourcing tools for visitors and one-on-one live engagement for exhibitors. JDC can create levels of participation and offer ecommerce for a true marketplace feel. Exhibitors are provided guidelines that explain how to market in advance of the event, how to use the event to network, and how to showcase their position as thought leaders and solution providers in their industry.
- Appointment scheduling: Exhibitors and attendees love to set up and manage appointments at live events. JDC offers useful tools to enable them to conveniently schedule these appointments at digital events, too. Visitors can easily manage their experience and efficiently use their time. Exhibitors hold meetings with interested clients, further increasing their ROI.
The bottom line, Collins said, is “always lead with purpose rather than platform. Considering your audience and their needs will drive the platform decision and position you to deliver a more memorable and engaging event.”