dance: PCMA reported record onsite
attendance in Las Vegas and more than
600 people online. It was an incredible
turnout — especially given that marketing for the online extension began just
two to three weeks before the meeting.
Finally, because the Internet makes
measuring easy, PCMA was able to collect more data about its attendees,
including what they watched and how
they participated, which already has
helped the association plan better
future events — including its mid-year
meeting, the PCMA Education Conference, which took place in Baltimore in
June and featured a scaled-back online
component that was designed to mimic
the intimate experience of the live conference, making it even more successful
than its predecessor.
Mary Reynolds Kane is senior manager, marketing, at the Professional Convention Management
Association. She may be reached at mkane@pcma.
The best way to plan a virtual event depends on the type of experience you
want to create. To create an interactive experience like PCMA did, consider
the following before you start planning:
• How much staff is needed?
• How much time does your service provider need to create the
site and schedule exit actions,
messaging and emails within the
• Will you charge a fee, and can
your provider accept paid registrations?
• Can your provider create special packages offering different
access levels to different attendee
• Can your provider integrate with
your database, website or registration system to make a single
sign-on solution? How much time
would that take to accomplish?
• How much support does your provider offer?
• Do they build the environment,
or do you?
• Will you have access to the
backend, or does the provider
make all of the updates?
• Will the provider offer technical support during the event?
• Do you have to run sessions on
the provider’s solution, or can you
pull in other preferred vendors?
• If you are going to use the provider’s broadcast solution:
• Will they record the sessions?
• What do they provide in terms
of speaker support?
• Can you show the slide and
video of presenter at the same
• Can attendees chat with the
speaker during the presentation
and access handouts?
• Is there any limitation to how
many people may be on the
• Can you run two sessions at once?
• What will you do to encourage participation before, during and after
• How will you encourage interaction between attendees?
• How will you encourage interaction between attendees and speakers?
• Do you want face-to-face attendees to interact with online attendees?
• What activities do you have
planned to create an interactive
• How will you extend the life of the
• How much bandwidth is needed to
provide a smooth production with
• How much will T1 and T3 lines
• Does your service provider offer
cameras and audio/visual production, or do you need to contract
these out to other vendors?
• How many feeds will you need?
• How many cameras will you need?
• What audio/visual equipment will
• What revenue opportunities exist?
• How many exhibitors can be in the
exhibitor area, and can you create
different levels of participation?
• Must exhibitors work directly with
the service provider to create virtual booths?