These days, more organisations are turning to online solutions in order to connect, communicate and collaborate. Imagine having the ability to broadcast an entire live event to thousands of viewers anywhere in the world? There are major benefits of incorporating webcasting facilities when planning events both in terms of maximising attendance and in saving money.
A webcast uses streaming media technology to broadcast events over the Internet and simultaneously distributes them to audiences anywhere in the world. They can be delivered live or recorded for after event viewing and are perfect for maximising event attendance, revenue and awareness.
In 2011 Bambi Gordon, Director of The Woo, took on the role of organiser and promoter of the NAB National Small Business Summit, an annual two day face to face event featuring high profile keynote speakers and concurrent workshops. With the event in its tenth year and a notable declining attendance, Bambi was faced with the decision, where to now?
“The proliferation of new technologies and events such as the Global Financial Crisis soon started to impact heavily on attendance of our event – it was declining, and declining fast. Business folk can now Google for the help they need or the resource they want to track down – so why turn up in person?” says Bambi.
Bambi approached Redback Conferencing to provide webcasting services as a new solution to hosting the business summit. Rather than seeing web based technologies as a threat to ‘in real world’ events, Bambi started to see them as complimentary to their live event. “I was a little hesitant at first because I was worried a webcast would cannibalise our attendance even more, but the more I looked into it, the more I saw them as a fantastic way to address the overall decline in event attendance and expanding reach of our sponsors, exhibitors and presenters messages.”
The first change Bambi instigated was to incorporate a ‘Virtual Delegate’ registration. Virtual Delegates were encouraged to watch the events live, from their own computer and at a discounted rate – all they really missed out on was the food! Bambi mentions that Social Media was also key in increasing interactivity and engagement and making the Virtual Delegates feel like they were really part of it. “The Virtual Delegates were able to network and tag each other and real world delegates. We heavily promoted a #hash tag leading up to summit to ensure that as a national event, we could truly have a national audience.”
Bambi’s experience in organising live events has taught her a thing or two. “The more content the greater the number of people who want to attend and the more presenters who are involved in the event and help to promote it,” she says. “But concurrent sessions can also make it tough for people to choose what to see. Obviously you can’t be in in two places at once!”
To combat this, all concurrent sessions were recorded live by videographers and then hosted as on demand content by Redback.
“If we are setting up a camera and a microphone to stream the event live – why not press record? This content can then be used within our own and our sponsor’s content marketing initiatives; presenters can grab footage of their presentation and distribute it post-event to their networks; and it can be used to promote next year’s event – it was really a no brainer.” All live and Virtual Delegates were sent an email within one week of the event finishing containing a link to view the sessions at their own convenience.
While online technologies will never replace face to face communication, it is reassuring to know that alternatives are becoming more available, advanced and affordable. Think outside the square for your next event and consider the options available to you.