How To Double Your Conference Attendance & Revenue

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Please enjoy the following guest post from ConventionPlanit.com member, Digitell, Inc. digitell live streaming

Double your attendance at your next conference. And your revenue. And create a new benefit for your members. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

And it is not a matter of whether you can, or can not “double your attendance and conference revenue.” With Live Streaming it is only a matter of when!

Did you know that 100 hours of new video content is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day? YouTube attracts 800 million unique visitors every month—video is so much more engaging than still photography. It is the third most visited site behind only Google and Facebook—and the second most popular search engine after only Google. Also 75% of YouTube’s content is generated outside the U.S.

If you think, or have been told, that the video medium and Live Streaming your content is not for associations, or your organization for fear of cannibalizing conference attendance, membership and revenue, consider this: For the past several years, hundreds of associations and corporations including the American Institute of CPAs, US Lacrosse, and The Expo Group have tapped into the power and reach of Live Streaming to increase their member and customer engagement;  add significant value to their membership benefits; and replaced aging advertsing and revenue streams that have been dwindling and disappearing for years. live streaming

Consider these three recent real-world examples of how Live Streaming your next conference keynotes and education sessions can generate these results and more.

National Speakers Association (NSA)

Just last week NSA held its annual convention in sunny San Diego, CA. Record-setting attendance of 1400 professional speakers and staff participated in a full conference schedule of over 50 keynotes and education sessions by the top speakers, live performers and consultants in the country. Included were pros like Steve Forbes, Chairman of Forbes Media, Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, and dozens of NSA Hall of Fame Speakers including Nancy Duarte, Mark Sanborn, and Sean Stephenson.

However, for the first time ever, NSA Live Streamed fourteen of its keynotes and education sessions to members who could not attend. The Live Stream received rave reviews and attracted an enthusiastic virtual audience of over 1200 members from 22 countries that nearly doubled its attendance this year. Wow! The Live Streamed sessions were a huge hit with members—many of them saying they wanted to attend the next annual event in-person*.

Radiological Society of North American (RSNA)

Last December, RSNA held its annual convention at McCormick Place, Chicago. Over 20,000 members and industry professionals attended in-person.

However, by Live Streaming select keynotes and education programs, RSNA was able to reach and virtually engage more than 8,000* physicians and medical professionals worldwide in 72 countries. With their virtual audience, they doubled the attendance inseveral of their sessions and significantly increasing the engagement of their membership. They also awarded nearly 80,000 CEUs via the Live Stream platform.

American Society of Microbiology (ASM)

Attendance increases and adding member benefits are valuable attributes of Live Streaming of course; but can you afford it? Well, like most technologies, the cost of Live Streaming your events has progressively dropped over the past few years which can make it a profitable venture with your very first launch.

Take, for example, the experience of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). Two years ago ASM contracted with a technology provider to live stream their annual conference. They generated $40k in revenue from virtual registrations and sponsorships. Unfortunately the vendor charged them $72k to live stream their conference. So ASM lost $32k.

Fast forward to ASM’s most recent conference. ASM changed to a technology provider offering a more mature pricing and marketing support model. The cost for Live Streaming this past year came in at only $24k, Live Streaming revenue increased to $52k, and instead of losing $32k, ASM made a $28k profit—a $60k swing in ROI in one year. In addition to the positive benefits of virtual attendee registration, sponsors and exhibitors clamor for Live Streaming and sponsorship options tied to content syndication. They know these opportunities generate greater brand visibility and creditability, better lead generation quality, and higher conversion to sales.

So What Are Your Goals?

Maybe it’s time to expand your goals to include increasing virtual conference attendance, improving member and customer engagement, and growing your conference revenue and profitability. Live Streaming your next event has huge potential to do all these for your organization.

For more information on how you can Live Stream your next event, a demo or budget estimate, contact Michael Hatch at Digitell, 240-603-6044.

( * ) Recent studies conducted by PCMA and Digitell found 15% to 30% of virtual attendees typically convert and attend the next conference in-person—increasing both conference attendance and revenue.

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ASAE by the Numbers

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Your dedicated ConventionPlanit.com blogger is not one to quote statistics. However, the following numbers associated with the 2014 ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo that wrapped up in Nashville are notable enough to share with our audience.

  • The event welcomed 5,924 total participants – among them 3,142 participants and 1,863 exhibitors
  • This year’s event saw the most attendees since the Chicago meeting of 2007
  • The Expo ran for 2 days and showcased 707 booths representing 441 companies
  • The buyer-to-seller ratio was 63 to 37
  • Some $500 million in business is projected to be booked in Nashville by attendees over the next 10 years

So, the ASAE Annual Show moves from the “Music City” this year to the “Motor City” in 2015. See you in Detroit next August!!

The ConventionPlanit Booth. Check out our new signs from GNP Branded Gear!

The ConventionPlanit Booth. Check out our new signs from GNP Branded Gear!

ASAE’s Opening Night Celebration

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“Singin’ in the Rain” – a.k.a the Opening Night Celebration.

A major rainstorm erupted at the beginning of the reception driving the group inside the Music City Center and putting a damper on the outdoor block party scheduled for the evening. The good news was that they were able to move the Bars inside as well.

Bad news was you had to wait until the rain subsided around 9:30pm to enjoy the phenomenal food still parked outside. And, after drying off the stage, everyone enjoyed country music star Dierks Bentley sing from his 11 Grammy nominated repertoire of hits.

The “Welcome to Splashville” evening was salvaged by the city’s ability to turn adversity into a memorable event. And isn’t that our entire industry’s stock in trade??

A is for ASAE

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“A” is for August and ASAE. Your intrepid blogger set out for Music City a.k.a. Nashville to attend the Aug. 9-12, 2014 Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The location for the event was the Music City Center, built to be large enough to accommodate 75% of the nation’s convention and visitor market. This state of the art venue features 1,800 parking spaces, 22 elevators and escalators, 1,100 doors, 845 solar panels and 13,500 light fixtures. In other words, well equipped to handle the record-breaking 6,000 attendees in attendance.

As usual, there was a variety of innovative learning formats available: Ignite Sessions, Game Changer Sessions, Learning Labs, Master Mind Sessions and Flash Learning opportunities.

The Expo Hall provided a wide variety of suppliers with interesting booths. Travel Portland showcased an old fashioned ice-cream cart filled with (you guessed it) ice cream for the masses. Business Events Canada toted along the Molson Canadian Beer Fridge, and Reno Tahoe USA brought David Wise, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics halfpipe skiing gold medalist to the hall for photo ops.

CP Member Visit Anchorage won 2nd Place for Best Booth!

CP Member Memphis CVB won 2nd Place for Best Booth!

Plus, ASAE executives could also shop for meeting destinations, facilities and service providers! I was joined by ConventionPlanit.com team members, Katherine and David Markham and Carolyn Pemberton in the CP.com booth to highlight  our unique RFP Organization tool to the planners.

The ConventionPlanit Team at ASAE: Carolyn Pemberton; Maureen Pickell, CTC; David Markham; Katherine Markham, CHME

The ConventionPlanit Team at ASAE: Carolyn Pemberton; Maureen Pickell, CTC; David Markham; Katherine Markham, CHME

New Contest Announced

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Calling all meeting professionals:

Do you use ConventionPlanit.com? Do you have industry colleagues or peers who could benefit from using these services?

If so, you can refer your colleagues and enter to win a trip for yourself at the same time!

Enter the Refer a Meeting Professional Contest for a chance to win a trip for two to the all new Tropicana Las Vegas, located on the strip!

Package Includes:

-Three nights in a Club Deluxe Room
-Round trip air for two
-Dinner at Bacio Italian Cuisine
-Tickets to The Mama Mia! Musical

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IMEX America Hosted Buyer Opportunity

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IMEX AmericaEveryone knows that IMEX America is the biggest meetings industry event in Las Vegas this year, but did you know that you can attend for free?

If you are responsible for placing two or more international meetings annually (away from the US, Canada and the Caribbean), join ConventionPlanit.com at IMEX America 2014 via the Hosted Buyer Program!

IMEX America returns to the Sands Expo in Las Vegas October 14-16, 2014. Don’t miss your chance to be part of our Hosted Buyer Program and join this group of valued meetings organizers as a guest of IMEX. At IMEX America you’ll meet suppliers from across the United States and around the world under one roof. Along with conducting business with them, you will be able to benefit from tailored education and peer-to-peer networking.

What is included?

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Accommodation at one of our partner hotels
  • Transfers within Las Vegas between Las Vegas McCarran Airport, the Sands Expo and hotels
  • Access to the Hosted Buyer Lounge with phone charging stations, free luggage storage and complimentary WiFi
  • Dedicated Hosted Buyer team to support you and your clients

Bonus – our Hosted Buyer group is led by me and my colleague (and fellow blogger) Maureen Pickell. We’re a pretty fun duo!

For more information or to register, please comment below and we will be in touch!

VIP (Very Important Planner) Golf Outing

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Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM,CSEP (and ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Member) was at it again, last Friday, this time with a VIP (Very Important Planner) Golf Outing at the Reston National Golf Course that raised money for a good cause and connected the meetings industry together in a unique way.

This golf event was different from other tournaments in that there were no scores, no pressure—just fun, food, drinks, and camaraderie! The event was free for planner golfers to participate and included unlimited beverage cart drinks, BBQ lunch, a round of golf, and rental clubs.

Each sponsored hole featured prizes, gifts, or other fun activities for the teams. There were also raffle tickets for amazing prizes: Bulova Watches, Maui Jim prize package, and a 2 night vacation to the following destinations: Rancho Bernardo Inn, Tropicana Las Vegas, Atlantis Resort, and PGA National Resort.

Most importantly, all proceeds from this event will go directly to the AJ Janosko Education Trust. For more information on this fund and the wonderful family, please click here. $7,5000 was raised for the trust.

ConventionPlanit.com co-founders Katherine & David Markham were on hand with a fun game for the meeting planners to compete in called Colossal Golf in which a putter was used to compete for a hole in one. The winning planner Thank you Video for her organization, The ASAE Foundation.

Prizes were also awarded in each of the following categories:

Most Matching Team
Best Dressed Male/Female (two winners)
Best Team Name
Best Sponsor Hole

Here are some photos of the golfers. Let us know if you’re featured!

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Best Matching Team Winners

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Colossal Golf Winner!

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Nancy Crum, CMP, seated on the ball, won for best individual outfit

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Luxury On Sale

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ALHI Private Sale

Who isn’t a fan of ALHI’s luxury hotels?

ALHI’s Private Sale provides one complimentary room for every 30 rooms actualized in 2014 for programs booked at select ALHI hotels and resorts.

Call 866-303-ALHI (2544) for more information and a list of participating ALHI members or click here for more information.

Offer valid for new programs only booked and actualized between June 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.  Minimum 30 rooms on PEAK, minimum three-night stay.  Based on availability.  Not valid with any other offers.

The Meeting Planner Inside Scoop: The Return of Face to Face Meetings

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meeting planner inside scoopWe recently sat down with seasoned meeting planner David Williams, Executive Director for the International Association for Energy Economics and CP.com Advisory Board member.

We got the meeting planner inside scoop on his perspective on the meetings industry’s past year and what 2014 may bring.

As with most industries, 2013 was a little slower than expected, but Williams was pleased that the Energy Economics Industry, which is a recession resistant industry, saw good turnout at conferences and a strong membership. “Overall, however, the meetings industry is lagging the general economy. We have slower growth, but slow growth is better than no growth,” says Williams.

In fact, with a rising membership, the IAEE has had its largest conferences ever, and has been able to draw attendees to the conferences by being able to host them in first tier destinations such as New York and San Francisco. He says, “We are now quite good at running meetings efficiently so it is easier to maximize savings and revenues and still get into the top tier locations that attracts more attendees.”

One challenge Williams sees in the meetings industry is sponsorship. “Sponsorship is a shrinking commodity,” he says. “We are going to wrestle with this for a while. With consolidation happening in so many industries, the pieces [of sponsorship] are getting smaller. It’s getting harder to sell and show value to companies for their sponsorship. And as all industries cut all portions of their budgets, sponsorship money gets cut as well.” Williams feels this will continue throughout 2014. In fact, most conferences now hold sessions on how to raise additional sponsorship money. Williams says that these sessions are always packed.

Williams sees several trends for 2014. Of course, eco-friendliness is always trendy, and he sees more and more strides being made. He says, “Good strides are being made to move away from paper. Many meetings, ours included, are no longer putting together registration bags. We are just giving out a name badge and a program. Those packs are being replaced with brochures on tables so fewer are needed and fewer are thrown away.” Technology is still a huge trend. “Technology will make or break us,” says Williams. “It will always be present. Meetings needs tweets and apps, it’s just the way it is now.”

One trend Williams sees happening and would love to hear findings from other planners, is the decline in webinar participation. He has a feeling that this form of meeting may be over, as more people want to get to back to face-to-face meetings. “I get the impression that folks find that participants are not really engaged and aren’t dialing in to webinars anymore.”

When asked about what advice he has for those entering the meeting planning industry, Williams said, “Learn how to negotiate. Learn and refine those skills. They are critical to your job. And remember that it never hurts to ask. You just have to keep at it. Ask for a little more each time. You don’t learn the whole industry overnight, you just keep asking, and learning, and learning from your mistakes.”

 

Capital Region Meeting Planners Go Loco for HoCo

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Known affectionately as HoCo, Howard County was the backdrop of a recent FAM tour put on by the Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion on May 15-17. The event gave 30 meeting planners the chance to experience everything the centrally located county has to offer. 

An ideal location due to its proximity to Baltimore and Washington D.C., HoCo had no shortage of other amenities to offer these planners.

FAM group shot smallThe FAM kicked off at Turf Valley’s annual Preakness Balloon Celebration on Thursday, May 15. After tours of the property, planners were whisked off to a VIP reception for food, drinks and a chance to meet and mingle with their fellow FAM participants. Afterwards planners headed back to their rooms at Turf Valley, Holiday Inn Columbia-East Jessup and the Sheraton Columbia Town Center.

Friday started at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center with a small tradeshow of 17 area hotels, restaurants, event spaces and service providers. The group enjoyed breakfast while touring the booths and learning more about Howard County. After breakfast, everyone grabbed a seat to hear several presentations about the current plans for development in downtown Columbia and historic Ellicott City.

After a short break, the group sat down again for an engaging keynote from Billy Kirsch, an award winning song writer who uses his expertise to help folks rediscover their creative side. There was a lot of great audience participation and by the end of Billy’s hour long presentation, the group had written the first verse to a song all about Howard County, MD and their experience so far! It was a very memorable session for those in attendance and the lyrics are included below.

Loco for Hoco
Other places are so-so
Come visit us anytime
A jewel between two cities
WOWard County is so pretty
Having a FAMulous time
Loco for Hoco
Where we’re happy as a dog drinking wine

The gravity-defying swing at Terrapin Adventures

The gravity-defying swing at Terrapin Adventures

From the Sheraton the group headed to Historic Savage Mill and Terrapin Adventures where Howard County continued to make an impression. Terrapin Adventures treated all willing participants to some fun team building exercises and rides on their giant swing and zip line. After swinging through the trees, the meeting planners enjoyed a tour of Savage Mill, cupcakes from The Factory Grill and a seasonal cocktail out on the patio at Ram’s Head Tavern. On Friday night, the group headed to Maryland LIVE! Casino for dinner at the buffet, entertainment and fun.

Saturday started in historic Ellicott City where the group took guided tours of the B&O Railroad Museum and the charming mill town itself. Then after some time for shopping and exploring on their own, headed to one of Columbia’s newer restaurants, Petit Louis on the Lake, for lunch. The restaurant treated the group to a delicious meal, complete with wine and macarons.

Barbara Kellner of the Columbia Association gave a brief but informative talk on Columbia’s founder Jim Rouse and explained how his ideals for the city are still very present in the community today. Wine was on the agenda for the afternoon too. After lunch the group ventured to Maryland’s largest wine festival, Wine in the Woods.

Saturday evening started at the Holiday Inn Columbia-East Jessup. Property tours led to a jazz reception and the hotel bar created a special cocktail for the event, the Loco for Hoco. The fizzy drink was concocted in honor of the song created the day before.

Planners at the Holiday Inn

Planners at the Holiday Inn

From the Holiday Inn, the group ventured to Robinson Nature Center. After a walkthrough everyone enjoyed a review performance by the Young Columbians, dinner courtesy of The Shanty Grille and some libations from Heavy Seas Brewing Company and Linganore Wine Cellars. The evening and weekend were capped off with a unique and interactive drum circle experience with the Fun Drum Company.

Planners at the Robinson Nature Center

Planners at the Robinson Nature Center

This was Howard County Tourism’s first meeting planner FAM tour, something that Director of Sales, Taffy Rice had been working on since she joined the office back in 2011. If any of these experiences or venues are of interest to you or a group you’re working with, please feel free to contact Taffy at 410-294-8302 or taffy@visithowardcounty.com.

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