The reality of transitioning to a Virtual Conference can be as simple or complex as planning a traditional on-site event, depending on the needs of your organization. As CommPartners sees inquiries come in for Virtual Conferences, one question we hear often is, “is an LMS platform really necessary?”
In short, we believe, yes! An LMS or Learning Management System, like CommPartners’ Elevate, allows you to house all your conference resources in one place and creates a space for attendee engagement. Your LMS will be an enduring knowledge presence that makes your learners want to come back to your site for content and information repeatedly. An LMS also opens doors for new ways to monetize online learning as a fresh, constant source of content for your clients and members!
A Home Full of Resources
An LMS platform provides a place for your attendees to return throughout your Virtual Conference. They can reference things like the agenda, speaker bios, virtual tradeshow booths, uploaded resources, and more! Just like an in-person conference or exhibit hall, your attendees will be able to explore your LMS platform to find new and interesting information. An LMS will house a full catalog of resources for attendees, simplifying their experience by eliminating the need for multiple platforms.
One of the biggest concerns when moving from an on-site conference to a Virtual Conference is the elimination of human interaction. Learners attend these events to network and connect with people, and online that doesn’t seem possible. An LMS like Elevate can provide you with many options to bridge the gap between attendees, including discussion boards on the conference site or a specific session, live chat, and Q&A with the presenters during a live broadcast and one-to-one chat messaging! Peer-to-peer conversations, discussions with presenters, and live reactions will create a sense of human interaction in a virtual space.
A Stream of Content
By building an LMS platform now, you can secure a solid foundation for future online events and even create a new, constant source of information for clients and members. Plus, if your organization would want to produce another event, you would already have the tools, site, and team in place to implement. Not to mention, your attendees would have continued access to resources provided by you. With an established LMS, you have the option to add virtual components to any future on-site events. Attendees would also have the ability to refer back to the recordings of your conference to refresh themselves on what they had previously learned. By building an LMS into your crisis solution now, you are securing your organization for a sustainable future.
Make Money While Solving a Problem
The current need is for a virtual solution. Just because you are strategizing how to move forward in difficult times, doesn’t mean it should be at a loss! There are many options within an LMS to monetize your online offerings outside of registration fees. An LMS offers a constant source of resources, like creating subscription plans for your learners to access resources. You can brand pages with sponsors, play sponsor commercials in breaks, and feature ads in various areas of the platform. You can charge for virtual booth space in addition to the on-site booth, should you move forward with an on-site program. Monetizing Your Virtual Conference may mean a new way of creative thinking, but it is entirely possible to do!
While creating your virtual solution for this new challenge, it is wise to slow down, even for a brief moment, and analyze the long term return on investment. With so many uncertainties lingering, creating an LMS will enable you to maximize your remote presence.
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Going virtual doesn’t mean that you lose everything that an on-site event has! A lot of what you had planned for your on-site event can still occur online, it just may look a little differently.
Here are six ways you can maximize sponsorships and attendee revenue in a virtual platform:
In your conference website, a virtual exhibit hall can be built out to house all the resources a sponsor wants to distribute to attendees. In each “exhibit booth”, the sponsor can upload PDFs, videos, company descriptions and links, and other resources. The exhibit hall will be open 24/7 – giving even more exposure for the sponsors that originally intended. The “exhibit booths” can also be upgraded to allow chat room style discussions between attendees and staff from the sponsoring organization. Your sponsors will get maximum and continual exposure to your attendees and will serve as a resource for attendees throughout the conference with having to have a booth “maned” the entire time.
Branding and Logo Opportunities
Because you are building this virtual conference site from the ground up – you have the ability to make an al a carte sponsorship of nearly any page on the website. Have a poster session? Offer this page a sponsorship add-on, with their logo in a prominent location on this busy web page. Giving an option for boosted exposure on commonly used pages on the virtual conference exposure is another way the sponsors can ensure they are getting ROI.
Commercials or Pre-Produced Videos
Sponsors could upgrade their commitment level to include a commercial or pre-recorded video to play before or after a session in the virtual conference. All the sponsor needs to do is provide the video ahead of time and it can be queued up! This gives the sponsor the attendees undivided attention, as they are preparing for or concluding a session. You can also chose to have that video as a permanent part of the archived recording, which means evergreen exposure for the sponsor!
Session and Speaking Opportunities
There are numerous ways to offer speaking opportunities to your sponsors in exchange for financial support. You can offer an entire session to sponsors, or you can create a while section of your agenda dedicated to sponsors giving presentations! Allowing the sponsors to present gives them the feeling that they may miss of being in front of human people. It give a human interaction to a virtual setting.
Attendee Access Fees
Just as you would charge a registration fee for an on-site conference, you should be charging a registration fee for access to the virtual event. You can also break the access into per day or per session registrations if that suits your conference model better. You can also charge for access to various, high-profile discussions or resources. Attendee fees should not necessarily be less for a virtual conference, because while you are eliminating food and venue costs, you are now gaining hosting and technology costs.
Allowing your content to live on in an LMS is a smart move. You are able to continually add to your archive through the years of events and house more resources for 24/7 access. Just because an attendee paid for the conference does not necessarily mean they should receive access to the archives for an undetermined amount of time. You could restrict access to archives and other resources to those that choose to purchase subscriptions to your LMS platform. Entice your attendees to subscribe by offering exclusive content in the subscription model only.
Whether you are going virtual from the onset or rescheduling an onsite event, the conversation about monetization is important and necessary. There are many ways to drive revenue for a Virtual Conference, and these six options are only scratching the surface! Have any other ideas on how to boost revenue in a virtual format? We would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cristyn Johnson is the newest addition to the CommPartners team. She may be a new name to some clients, but she no stranger to Elevate or CommPartners. Cristyn is a former client who has joined us as a Client Development Manager. She told me a little bit about her position, what it was like to transition from client to team member, and what unique perspectives she brings to the table.
JR: What is your job title, and what will you be doing for CommPartners?
CJ: I am a Client Development Manager. I will be working with all existing clients – that includes Elevate, content capture, live-stream clients – helping them optimize their systems, brainstorming new ideas and initiatives they might be excited to embark on, and making sure they get the most out of our services.
JR: Exciting! What aspects of your new position are you looking forward to the most?
CJ: I am a huge professional development and learning nerd, so I am really looking forward to learning about all of the really cool projects and initiatives our clients are doing or could be doing with CommPartners.
JR: How about association education? What makes you excited working in this space?
CJ: I get really excited when other people get really excited about learning.
JR: Sounds like you’re in the right industry! So, you have the unique experience of coming to CommPartners as a former client, can you speak to what that transition was like?
CJ: In my previous position, I was managing our Elevate platform. As the position grew, I found myself drawn to helping others use the platform more effectively, think critically about how they use the platform, and how the end-users use the platform. So, it seemed serendipitous when this position at CommPartners became available where I could similarly help other Elevate administrators across the platform.
JR: Do you think that experience has given you a unique perspective you can use in your new position?
CJ: Absolutely! I think the association world is very unique with so many dynamics and strategies and ideas, and having that deeper knowledge is going to help me make more informed recommendations to clients. It also means, we can have a certain level of insight that we didn’t necessarily have before, new initiatives or new products can have an added association perspective built into the way they are created.
JR: Now that you’re working for CommPartners, what makes us unique compared to other online education companies you have worked with/have experience with?
CJ: CommPartners takes the time to listen and get to know all of our clients, and I felt that interaction when I was on the other side as a client too. That goes a long way in the association world because a lot of them are not-for-profit entities, other companies can write them off as a faceless name in a crowd – you don’t feel that with CommPartners.
JR: What’s a unique element of Elevate that really excites you?
CJ: Elevate has a module called Connect. It is a great way to connect all your users within your LMS. Where on a discussion board the conversation just kind of ends, the Connect Module allows you to create an interactive community with all of your Elevate users. Users can talk and share resources beyond single product interaction.
JR: Bonus question round! What is one movie you can watch over and over and over?
CJ: Slums of Beverly Hills!
Cristyn is looking forward to working with our clients to make sure they are getting the most out CommPartners’ products and services. If you have an idea you’d like to try out within your education services or feel like your education toolbox could use a refresh, contact Cristyn.
She is ready to find a new way to engage your learners or maybe better leverage what you already have.
Cristyn can be reached by email email@example.com or phone (443) 539-4858.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present at the 2019 Higher Logic Super Forum, on the topic of community-based learning. At the start of the session, I discussed the difference between training and learning. I suggested that training tends to be one dimensional or instructional, in support of a specific process or job with a singular path towards the end goal. Learning can be described as a multi-dimensional approach, that links educational experience and work performance. It focuses on personal qualities and situational decision making. Too often online education programs that fit well into the learning space are structured as training. The problem is, there is little space created for engagement, conversation and sharing of ideas and this leads to minimal learner to learner or learner to instructor engagement.
A way to address this situation is to create space for sharing of ideas, reflection and connection among participants. This was one of the initial goals when we formed a close partnership with Higher Logic to bring learning and community together as a single offering. While we have had some success achieving this on a macro level with an integrated user experience (UX), a single menu structure and seamless integration, we have not had great progress on a content level.
In my talk yesterday, I made the case that if you are offering online learning that is enhanced from a collaboration among participants, an integration of your community and LMS on a program level makes a lot of sense. Here are three benefits of integrating discussions within your online course, virtual conference or webinar offerings:
- Your community members have already taken time to set up their profile and participate in the community. They can now leverage that presence to engage fellow learners in a more focused way. Adding online education to their participation makes them more active and creates synergy between the two platforms, therefore increasing participation.
- Satisfaction with a course will be enhanced when there is the opportunity to share ones ideas or thoughts with other learners.
- Adding discussions provides a continuum of what is learned. It provides participants the opportunity to continue with the topic once the course is completed.
Recently, CommPartners enhanced its integration between Higher Logic’s Community and CommPartners’ Elevate LMS. Is it time for you to make this a priority in 2020?