When the current wave of virtual event platforms first emerged, technology developers became the primary educators for the industry. In addition to teaching their clients and prospects about the features and benefits of their own products, they were also responsible for helping customers to market the event, develop content, sell exhibit space, train speakers, and a host of other tasks. While they did so gladly, the explosion of interest in virtual solutions placed a heavy burden on them. Fortunately, the situation has changed. Now, there are multiple opportunities to learn about virtual event platforms and execution.
Virtual Event Institute and Virtual Edge Summit
As a former face-to-face event organizer himself—a career path that quickly changed after 9/11—Michael Doyle instantly saw the potential of virtual event platforms. His Virtual Edge Institute (VEI) was the first organization to advocate and educate the event community on digital solutions. The Institute produces the Virtual Edge Summit, an annual hybrid conference covering the full spectrum of topics on virtual event and learning platforms. A prominent feature of the conference is the streaming of content on a wide variety of platforms allowing virtual attendees to test drive products.
EastVirtual Event Workshop for Associations
The EastVirtual Event Workshop is designed specifically for trade association executives and department managers in event marketing, sales, digital marketing, community, meetings, Web, IT services, learning, and training. The program offers participants a hands-on curriculum covering virtual event business models, platforms, budgets, content, staff, exhibits, sponsorship sales, engagement, program planning, assessment, and ROI. “EastVirtual will give attendees the fundamentals of virtual trade shows and conferences. Participants will leave the workshop knowing the first steps for building a 30-day implementation strategy,” says Warwick Davies, principal of The Event Mechanic! and co-founder of EastVirtual. The one-day workshop will be held in Washington, DC on May 18, 2011.
Digital Events Strategist Certification
VEI recently announced its plans for a Digital Events Strategist certification program for individuals “to effectively plan, produce and measure the results of their digital engagement practices” and for organizations “to develop a management pool strategically equipped to engage audiences using digital technology.” Michael Doyle recognizes the challenge that the industry has in getting managers in sync with the virtual opportunities and technology. “There is a bottleneck in the industry right now. On one side, customers are trying to add virtual elements to their programs, but don’t have the skills or experience internally. On the other side, vendors have customers who want to deploy the solutions but they don’t have the ecosystem to support them. The certification will help to change that,” he says.
The Virtual Buzz Blog
There are excellent blogs on virtual platforms and the event industry. I love Dennis Shiao’s It’s All Virtual and Social 27’s Virtual Events Hub. But the latest entrant to the virtual event blogosphere comes from the ladies—Cece Salomon-Lee and Donna Sanford—two marketing/PR and journalism experts (respectively) with a passion for virtual platforms. Their Virtual Buzz Blog is a collection of expertly written how-to posts and perspectives plus curated content from other bloggers that should keep the virtual learners juiced up in between face-to-face events.
The Takeaway: From broad (Virtual Edge Summit) to focused (EastVirtual) to everything in between, there are ample opportunities for corporate, independent, and association planners, strategists, and project managers to learn the ropes. Fortunately no one has to choose just one.