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Gorazd Čad

When the tool becomes more important than the craftsmen

A few days ago, I took part in a webinar held by the legendary Maarten Vanneste, author of the Meeting Architecture concept. Especially impressive was the part, where he asked us to question our life mission; “What are we? Eventprofs, TV producers or Online teachers?”
Most of us agreed that our profession is even more important now when online events have taken over the industry. You cannot convince me that we should give up on our profession and start learning the ins and outs of TV production.

In my opinion, online events have not changed the meetings industry yet. After all, they’ve been around even before the coronavirus epidemic.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a notion that should be applied to online and hybrid events. Events create added value for organisers and attendees. The classical mathematical way of measuring added value is ROI (return on investment). On the other hand, ROE (return on event) is more complex, as it includes changes and relationships triggered by the event. It encompasses change in three fields: learning, networking in motivation. ROE is the heart of what #eventprofs or meeting architects, as Maarten likes to call us, are good at.

The skills of event planners will be even more sought after and valuable after the crisis. We just have to learn how to justify our role in a new digital ecosystem.

Definition of a “meeting architect” by Maarten Vanneste

A Meeting Architect is an individual who focuses on the potential meeting
objectives, the meeting formats and designs, and the conceptual and
practical building blocks for constructing a meeting aimed at better learning,
networking and motivation in the participant population. He or she also
knows how to measure the meeting results up to level 5 ROI.

With some adaptation and learning, we can shift from PCO’s (professional congress organisers) to DCO’s (digital congress organisers). A clear example of how far we are from making that shift is the following story.

Last week, a meeting planner in Slovenia started promoting his online event organisation software. As far as I could tell, the software solves all problems connected to the new situation. Professional live event organisers a few months ago, became professionals in selling miracle software overnight. The tool just became more important than the skill of event organisation. Instead of justifying their organisational skills in this new environment, they resorted to selling online software. Something along the lines of; “We have the best excavator in the world, what we do with it doesn’t really matter”.

webinar

Our editorial board recently compiled a list of the best online/virtual meeting platforms. Over 60 providers responded to our feature request. Many of them have been present on the market for years, others saw an opportunity to make a quick profit after the success of platforms like Zoom. New solutions have been growing like weeds and not a day goes by without receiving an offer for the best, genius, wonderworking online event platform.

You can view the article here.

The devil is in the detail... and terminology

Somehow all solutions support online/virtual events. Rarely do providers make the distinction between webinars, online conferences, hybrid events and virtual events. It seems that the term “virtual” sells well, despite the product not having anything to do with virtual. They just don’t care and unfortunately, clients aren’t informed well enough. Before finding the right solution, you will probably have to test out a few different platforms in practice to see what works best.

How to separate the grain from the weeds?

Live streaming does not equal hybrid event. Trying to combine a live and online event by adding a live stream does not make it hybrid. Choosing an online event platform depends on numerous factors like the complexity of the programme, the number of parallel tracks and on-demand content, the amount of branding, safety, mobile access, etc. We recommend choosing a platform that supports interaction between live and online attendees.

In short, all the possible tools and techniques that are at hand today, need to be combined into an effective and well-functioning, value-adding event. Professional event organisers can help you the most.

To software developers, this dimension of events is mostly unknown and insignificant. As members of the meetings industry, we need to start boldly defending our role in the wonderful new world of events.

Today, this came in my inbox (name of the company intentionally removed):

Hello Mr Čad,

It is very difficult to communicate live at the moment, so I would like to draw your attention to our new online platform called XY. It will easily host your next online event, from conferences, Christmas parties, product presentations to your leadership meetings.

We provide interactivity, fun and ease of use, as well as easy integration with Zoom, Webex, etc. Your event will look like a live event.

The platform is affordable, simple for the user and structured to meet all the needs of online participants.

I am happy to send you a video about XY with more details.

Sincerely X.

Professional congress organisers do not have to suddenly turn into professional software wholesalers.
Let’s rather think about how we can help clients create better online and hybrid events that exceed expectations and bring added value to all parties.

Right now, creativity is more important than logistics and software!