Category Archives: Blog

Delta Has a Brilliant Strategy to Eliminate Fear and Get People Flying Again: Instagram

Delta, like all airlines, faces a very real, very big challenge. Right now, the vast majority of people aren’t that interested in climbing onto an airplane with 100 people they don’t know for a few hours. 

It turns out that traveling isn’t as bad as you think it would be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t very different. For example, when I flew to New York City last month, I had no idea what to expect. Even as a fairly regular traveler during “normal” times, I had more anxiety about getting on a plane than I ever had before. 

That’s entirely natural considering that most people don’t like the “unknown.” We tend to avoid uncertainty as much as possible. Flying simply involves too many variables out of our control for most of us to take what seems like an unnecessary risk during a pandemic.  

But if you’re Delta, that’s bad news. In fact, it’s very expensive bad news. As a result, the company has made an extraordinary effort to keep passengers and crew members safe. 

In an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle at The Atlantic Festival, Delta’s CEO made clear the cost of COVID-19 to the airline’s business:

We’re flying today at a 60 percent load factor cap. So that means 40 percent of the seats we fly, we are deliberately not filling and not selling. That is not cheap. But the more important decision we make is we gotta put people over profits. And we know that instilling confidence in our customers, as well as our own employees, is job number one. That’s our priority right now.

I’d much rather people remember Delta as the company that took care of them through the pandemic… Customers are making a decisions about who Delta is by the values that we put out on display.

All of that is great, but the key here is “instilling confidence.” None of the rest of it matters if people are too anxious or afraid to do business with your company. To that end, Delta has a brilliant strategy for providing information for customers: Instagram. This morning, I was swiping through my feed, when I came across the following post.

If you tap on it, it reveals individual profiles for each of the different steps the company is taking to make the boarding process safer. If you select one of those profiles, they provide additional information. For example, if you tap on the Customer.Face.Masks profile, it explains:

For everyone’s safety, customers must wear a mask or face covering, and extra masks and Care Kits will be available if you need one. Those with underlying conditions who can’t wear a mask or face covering are required to complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process before being permitted to travel.

Think about that for a moment. Delta took the time to create a dozen Instagram profiles so that it could better communicate with its followers. Sure, you can argue that Delta has plenty of resources and staff to do this. That’s definitely true. But the thought behind this makes it effective for two reasons.

The first is that it helps create expectations. In that example about face masks, it provides a potential traveler with all of the information they need to know about what is required of them. It even details the process if a passenger has an issue with wearing a mask. (As a side-note, Delta’s CEO says the company has already put 350 people on a no-fly list for refusing to wear masks.)

The second reason I think this is so effective is that it’s not just about creating expectations for someone who has already decided to travel. In my article describing my flight last month, I explained the steps the company is taking to do just that. In a statement, Delta told me, “Our community management team has been highly engaged and very responsive with customers to help increase confidence and reduce anxiety.”

This, on the other hand, is meant to reach people who haven’t decided to travel. It wasn’t on their website or in an email. It was on Instagram. Remember Instagram, that place where we all used to share images of the cool places we visited when we traveled? Delta clearly wants us to get back to that, which is why the fact that it ran this content there is so effective. 

Delta is meeting travelers who have a sense of wanderlust where they are, and is helping them better understand the effort the company is taking to keep everyone safe. That, in turn, helps to reduce the anxiety and uncertainty around travel.

None of that is easy, especially now. And, it doesn’t mean people are going to suddenly start buying plane tickets. This, however, is a creative and interactive way to create expectations. In fact, I think it’s brilliant. 

BY JASON ATEN, TECH COLUMNIST@JASONATEN INC.

The purr-fect way to kick off October! The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre all set to welcome its first two consumer exhibitions

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 September 2020 – The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) is looking forward to hosting two consumer exhibitions during October, when the venue welcomes visitors for the Beautylife Bonanza from 1 – 3 October and Ekspo Kucing (Cat Expo) 2020 from the 2 – 4 October.

The inaugural Beautylife Bonanza will provide Malaysians with great value and irresistible package deals from an extensive range of beauty and lifestyle brands.

For all the cat lovers out there, Ekspo Kucing, the largest feline-related exhibition in Malaysia, will be a must visit. With lots of great deals, massive promotions, giveaways and savings of up to 80%, this is one exhibition that your furry friends don’t want you to miss!

Both exhibitions offer free admission and will be taking place in a hygienic, controlled and secure environment with stringent safety and security measures in place, which are in line with the approved Malaysian National Security Council Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

According to the Centre’s General Manager, Alan Pryor, “Is it great to be welcoming consumer exhibitions back to the Centre and we are pleased to be kicking off with these two fun events. Being able to host exhibitions again is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Malaysia’s Frontliners and Government in combatting Covid-19 in the country.”

To enhance the visitor experience, the Centre’s Café 88 conveniently located on the Ground Level in the Centre Core will also be open for guests to savour true Malaysian tastes to grab and go or relax and enjoy local favourites with a spectacular view of the PETRONAS Twin Towers overlooking the KLCC Park. With many delicious and affordable dishes, it is the purr-fect place to take a break when attending events at the Centre.

He continued, “Since we reopened our doors on 1 July, we are grateful to have safely and successfully hosted 84 events – two conventions, two entertainment events and 80 meetings and events (up to 25 September). We have been working tirelessly to restore consumer confidence in events and are starting to see signs of recovery, with 10 exhibitions (trade and consumer) in the pipeline for the rest of 2020.”

Gerard Leeuwenburgh, Country General Manager – Malaysia, Informa Markets (Organiser of Beautylife Bonanza) shared, “We are excited and ready to bring our trade shows back in the new normal and are happy to be hosting the inaugural Beautylife Bonanza at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.”

“As part of our commitment to being a socially responsible organisation, we always aim to do more for the betterment of life in the societies we operate in while providing our customers the best possible solutions for their business. This is why we have themed this year’s event ‘Giving Back to Community’ to help alleviate the impact on the underprivileged community and to achieve and maintain a sustainable livelihood through economic opportunities. So, we hope to see a great turn out from the community to support these organisations,” he concluded.

VisitBritain COVID-19 Update & ‘We’re Good To Go’ Industry Standard

While the 14-day quarantine for US inbound arrivals remains
in place, Great Britain is one of only a few destinations in Europe that
Americans can actually enter.  The UK Government re-evaluates the
travel advisories every three weeks. For the latest details, be sure to
check the guidelines on GOV.UK. The new ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard has been a success with 38,000+ applications from UK
businesses received. The “We’re Good To Go” mark signals that a tourismand hospitality business has adapted their operations in line with
respective Government and public health guidance and has a COVID-19
risk assessment in place to aid staff training, social distancing and
cleanliness. Go to https://goodtogo.visitbritain.com/discover to view our new interactive map showing all the businesses which have received
the mark, so you can plan your client’s trips with ease.

















In Anchorage, the Best Things Always Return

Anchorage is known for its larger-than-life landscapes and cyclical natural splendor — from teeming summer salmon runs to the winter northern lights. Now the city’s vibrant hospitality sector is taking Alaska-sized steps to keep it all safe and open for business.

Convention centers are protected by VenueShield, an industry-leading set of safety and sanitation protocols. Local hotels follow enhanced cleaning programs, and meeting venues offer spacious new room layouts. New outdoor dining areas and pedestrian-only zones give guests more space to keep a social distance while enjoying the city. Proactive measures like pre-travel testing requirements and mandatory facemask use in indoor public spaces further help protect community health, bolstering visitor confidence.

These new practices and procedures help keep the city safe for guests looking to experience the timeless wonder that makes Alaska so unique: the snow-capped mountain peaks, the long summer days, and the beluga whales riding the tide up Turnagain Arm. In Anchorage, the best things always return — and when the time comes to gather again, Anchorage awaits.

US Virgin Islands – COVID19 Updates

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the
The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Tourism has remained committed to protecting the health and safety of our residents and visitors, and we continue to be guided by public health experts in order to minimize the spread of the virus and to make prudent decisions concerning the management of our tourism sector.

Like every other destination affected by this crisis, we are actively looking forward to and planning for the eventual resumption of tourism activity. We greatly value our partnerships with all our colleagues in the meetings and events sector. Our local MICE stakeholders have been using this “down” time to refresh and enhance their product offerings and to ensure that each property, venue or activity is fully prepared and equipped to provide a safe, healthy and exceptional experience to arriving guests. This is a coordinated, integrated effort between local USVI government agencies, tourism stakeholders and organizations including the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association.

Until our MICE offerings are fully reopened, the Department of Tourism continues to engage with its various audiences to share the beauty and appeal of the Virgin Islands and to encourage safe public health practices, including social distancing.

We remain fully committed to meeting your business needs once this health crisis has abated. When we are assured that the Territory is equipped and ready with all testing and containment protocols recommended by public health experts and our local authorities, we stand ready to work with you to welcome your groups back to the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands, where a truly wonderful experience awaits your clients. 

How to Liven Up a Virtual Meeting: Breathe Life Into Your Live Stream (Part 2 of 3)

Twists and turns in your voice and the experience you provide will make your live stream an adventure.  Start with the beat of their favorite drummer and you’ll breathe life into your virtual experience. New ConventionPlanit.com supplier member Ben Corey, CEO and Lead Digital Entertainer with Stream Variety, offers advice on livening up a virtual meeting. Read on for part 2 of this new series. 

1. Speed up the pulse with music – THEIR music.

Nothing dials up excitement like people’s favorite music!  Ask participants to turn up their favorite songs while waiting for the virtual event to begin.  “Start the event on your own terms, by playing your own favorite music.”  All of my performances feature preshow music because of how well it gets people going.

2. Engage with your voice.

Let’s face it – on screen, it’s half of what you’ve got! Avoid sounding monotone or that news video in the next window over will pull your audience away. Practice varying the pitch, rate, and volume of your voice to pull your audience in while also non-verbally signaling your credibility. Ex: speak softly on a key point so your audience leans in, then, when they least expect it, pop your voice to deliver an exciting detail. 

3. Keep them on their toes.

Incorporate continuous surprises into the stream that they would never see coming. For example, beam Ben Franklin in to deliver a motivational on theme message. 

Ben Corey provides consulting and support to help you launch successful digital tradeshows, innovative online networking events, and conferences.  He provides a complete roster of sponsorable streaming entertainment.  Contact Ben Corey directly at Stream Variety to learn more. 

How Video Meetings Mess with Your Head and How to Make it Better

by Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights

I could tell by the glowing yellow line that framed Amy’s video image that she was saying something. But for the life of me, I couldn’t absorb the meaning of her words, even though I could hear her just fine. Maybe it was the fact that this was the third Zoom workshop that I facilitated that day, or that I hadn’t given my brain or body a chance to recharge for the last several hours. Whatever the reason, at that moment, my brain felt absolutely fried. Fortunately, I was able to pull myself together for the waning minutes of the session, but I resolved never to let that happen to me again, whatever the heck that was.

Just because I have heard many people complain of “Zoom fatigue,” it didn’t mean I had the solution. Since I typically lead multiple virtual workshops each day, I had a vested interest in figuring out how endless video meetings are affecting our brains and what we can do about it. Here’s what I have discovered about how and why meeting by video can jam up our brains, along with some tips to avoid or mitigate the negative side effects.

Why, exactly, are video meetings so taxing?

•  We’re expecting too much. Virtual experiences can never measure up to face-to-face interactions, especially when it comes to building relationships, making intuitive connections, understanding others’ perspectives, and deciphering emotions. And yet we somehow expect that with an icebreaker or two, a few great questions to stimulate conversation, and a host of activities to keep people engaged, that we can come close to simulating in-person conversations. The more we try to convince ourselves, the more disappointed we become that the session felt tiring and well, flat.

•  We are forced to focus hyper-attentively on expressions, gestures, nuances and gestures, scanning all visible faces, at the same time, listening for words, tone, cadence and silence. (And if we’re leading the session, we’re also concerned about the technology working, session content, timing, dysfunctional behavior, and myriad other factors that need to go right.) This is just plain exhausting. Contrast this to if we were sitting around a table, where we’d be looking at one or two people at a time, instead of scanning every face, every moment. There are no natural breaks in video meetings. Gazing out the window to think, as we might otherwise do, may be misinterpreted as disinterest. Taking an impromptu stretch break might be considered rude. And so we sit, dutifully glued to our video cameras.

•  Our brains are constantly straining to fill in the gaps left by the two-dimensional aspect of video. According to Kate Murphy in her New York Times piece, Why Zoom is Terrible, since video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the resulting disorder, which makes us vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite realizing why. Murphy quotes Sheryl Brahnam, an IT and cybersecurity professor at Missouri State University, who compares videoconferencing to consuming highly processed foods: “In-person communication resembles video conferencing about as much as a real blueberry muffin resembles a packaged blueberry muffin that contains not a single blueberry but artificial flavors, textures and preservatives. You eat too many, and you’re not going to feel very good.”

•  It’s harder to empathize. Our pixelated images are nothing like the faces we see in person, where we can instantly interpret subtle movements around the eyes and mouth, even when we’re not consciously aware we’re doing so. Those micro-cues all but disappear in the pixelated versions of ourselves, making it almost impossible for us to mirror others through facial mimicry, which, says Murphy, is essential to empathy and connection. “To recognize emotion, we have to actually embody it. When we can’t do it seamlessly, we feel unsettled because it’s hard to read people’s reactions and thus, predict what they will do.” Simply put: When our predictions are not confirmed, our brains have to work harder, making us feel exhausted.

•  We can’t see eye to eye. We can make the others feel like we’re looking into their eyes by staring into our own video cameras. But when we gaze into our camera, we can’t also be looking at others’ facial expressions, let alone gazing into their eyes. We can’t have it both ways. In the absence of direct eye contact, building trust becomes a lot harder.

•  TMI about ourselves, and not enough about others. Thanks to our ability to see our own images front and center, we tend to over-emote to make sure our reactions are noticed by everyone else, including showing affirmations, expressions of surprise or curiosity, disagreement, or demonstrating interest (whether it’s feigned or not). Says Christina Cauterucci in her Slate piece, I Will Not Be Attending Your Exhausting Zoom Gathering, “Social instincts that usually require little conscious effort are now taking up space in my brain, draining the energy I used to devote to the substance of a conversation.” (No wonder I had difficulty deciphering the meaning of my workshop participant’s words: My brain was already fully loaded trying to process all of nonverbal information I was struggling to take in.)

•  Natural conversation rhythms are hard to come by. There are fewer natural pauses in video meetings, making it hard to discern when it’s okay to talk. Since we can’t easily tell if someone is about to speak, several may try to speak at once. Or even worse, sometimes no one talks at all.  And when you’re trying to scan 5, 10 or 25 faces at once, it’s hard to know what’s holding people back from jumping in. As Julia Sklar explained in her National Geographic piece on Zoom fatigue, a typical video calls impairs our ability to pick up clues about someone’s direction or intensity of focus, or their intention to speak. A video call requires sustained and intense attention to words, she points out, causing our brains to become hyper-focused on searching for nonverbal cues that it cannot find.

Tips for combatting “Zoom fatigue”

•  Just say no to video, at least occasionally. Apart from the fact you may have your kids running around your workspace, a counter full of dirty dishes behind you, or a sudden reminder that you’ve ignored hair over the last few days, it’s okay to decline the request to turn on your camera on occasion “just because.” Better yet, suggest that everyone attend in voice-only mode from time to time, or simply make it a con call instead. Research shows that many people tend to listen more deeply and derive more meaning from what they hear, without the distraction of trying to read facial expressions from tiny video images on the screen.  (Even if you feel pressured to turn on your video, it doesn’t mean you have to look at yourself. By hiding your image from your own view, you eliminate much of the distracting noise that occupies way too much space in your brain. I do this often, once I get my angle and lighting right. It’s made a huge difference in my ability to concentrate and brain energy.)

•  Move more conversations offline. These may take the form of asynchronous (any time) conversations in a shared workspace or portal (think Slack), when people can join at any time to exchange ideas, respond to questions, post answers, or brainstorm ideas. They might also take the form of 1:1 phone conversations, IM chats or email threads. The point is, not every conversation has to begin and end on Zoom.

•  Take breaks. If the meeting leader hasn’t built in break time, request a break when your energy is flagging. Chances are, others feel the same way. If you feel awkward about interrupting to ask for a break, let people know in chat (or some other way) that you are walking away for two minutes and will be right back. If you must stay put, find something to focus on that can help settle your mind, like an open window, a photo or painting, or a doodle.  You don’t have to keep staring at the screen intently for 60 or more minutes at a time. You brain will thank you.

•  Make use of breakouts. Not all meetings will benefit by having small-group breakout activities, but if you’re having at least 10 people sitting around the virtual table, consider how the formation of small groups can help achieve the intended results, perhaps even in less time. When we’re seeing and hearing just a few other people at a time, we can focus much more easily without the distraction of so many other faces. Plus, conversations are almost always more satisfying and meaningful with just a few people. Caveat: Make sure you have allocated sufficient time for instructions, the breakout activity, and a group debrief, if one is needed. Breakouts take time, and almost all need some kind of debrief. Don’t cut them short.

•  Be super clear in setting expectations and giving instructions. Since it’s a fair guess that many on the call will be at least somewhat disengaged or tired at any given time, it’s especially important to make sure that everyone understands the questions, instructions, or other requests. Use multiple communication channels to do this. E.g., review instructions verbally, and also on a slide in the shared screen, as well as in the chat area. Invite people to ask questions for clarification after you review the instructions. If you are able to scan facial expressions, look for signs of hesitancy or confusion.  Pause long enough for people to ask questions. Resist the temptation to move them along too quickly in hopes that everyone magically understood everything right up front.

•  Take a pulse.  This can take the form of a quick poll (launching one from your meeting application, or using another app like Poll Everywhere or Mentimeter). Or you can do a quick verbal go-round the room, or ask people to type in, say, a number from 1-10, where 1 signals very low energy and 10 signals very high energy. You can try scanning faces, but as we’ve pointed out, we derive precious little emotional content from pixelated images. Regardless of your method of assessing the level of energy in the room, try asking people to turn off their videos before weighing in. Many experts say that no facial cues are better than faulty ones. 

•  Make virtual social events optional. Many of my clients are holding virtual happy hours for people to connect socially, something that’s sorely lacking these days. Typically, these social sessions are held around 4-5 PM on Fridays. Some rotate hosts. Some have themes, like “Movie Night,” where people share favorite films. Some play games; for example, my brilliant friend and neighbor just developed an app for our poker club to play Texas Hold-‘Em via Zoom. And some people just want to talk, about anything and everything.

Video meetings don’t have to be so tiring, and you probably don’t need as many as you think you do.   Know the limitations and constraints, both of the technology itself, and of peoples’ ability to stay focused. Be thoughtful about when video is really required by all, or even by some. And while you’re at it, think about whether real-time meetings of any kind are really needed, or whether you can have conversations some other way. As Christina Cauterucci reminds us in her Slate piece, “These days, when video chatting has to stand in for a whole social life’s worth of in-person contact, it feels like a massive downgrade. Every Zoom call brings a painful reminder of what quarantined life is missing.”

Note: The article originally appeared in Guided Insight’s Communique

Nancy Settle-Murphy is the President of Guided Insights. She is a renowned expert in the fields of virtual leadership, remote collaboration and navigating cross-cultural differences, and the author of Leading Effective Virtual Teams. Learn more about Nancy at www.guidedinsights.com.

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Live Streaming 101

We asked DIGITELL, Inc., to explain how Live Streaming cultivates a new audience and leverages your content to generate new revenue.

For those of us who may be unfamiliar with Live Streaming, how does it amplify the meeting experience?

Live Streaming is simply delivering the education and experience of your meetings with those who are unable to attend physically.  Live Streaming adds a whole new group of people into your meeting experience. It allows you to reach a greater audience with your message, which benefits your organization and your community.

Why is Live Streaming so important compared to traditional forms of marketing?

Over 80% of people attending a Live Stream have never been to your physical meeting. With a 20% – 40% conversion rate, Live Streaming provides the exposure you need to grow your physical meeting.  It is the most successful and cost-effective marketing you will ever do for your meeting and organization.

What impact does Live Streaming have on revenue development?

There are over 5 ways of generating revenue from live streaming, resulting in significant (non-dues) revenue for your organization:

  1. Registration revenue from the virtual attendee
  2. Virtual pass revenue from the physical attendee to share with their staff who could not attend
  3. Virtual pass revenue from the exhibitors to share with their sales staff who need to hear what is being said in the industry
  4. Sponsorship revenue by exhibitors and sponsors who wish to privately host Live Stream education content
  5. Sponsorship revenue by exhibitors and product showcases between sessions present plenty of options to enhance the Live Stream experience

How does live streaming engage new or existing members?  

The comfort level of people learning digitally has never been higher.  15 years of Webinars and Online Learning and 12 years of Live Streaming events have created an enormous market of digital learners.  With less than 10% of members typically attending a physical meeting, Live Streaming gives you a product to offer 90% of your members who don’t attend and the ability to reach an international community that can’t or is afraid to travel.

What other benefits can only live streaming offer?

  1. It re-engages dormant members who become active spenders of your organization
  2. It can give your exhibitors an additional market to reach for new business
  3. It will increase your physical meetings and add new members
  4. It gives you the ability to reach international markets in their language

To learn more about Live Streaming, contact Digitell.