Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2020

Cover Story

Value for Cost Remains Big Issue in Deploying Social Media, Partnering, Meeting Apps

More and more meeting and exhibition technology sits snugly in the palm of the hand, dazzling and tantalizing meeting professionals. Yet the business case must be rock solid before they will deploy the latest social media, partnering software, and meeting applications.

“Partnering software, for example, can cost 6 to 10 percent of the budget for our meetings, depending on the engagement length and number of users,” said Bryan Quinan, CMP, senior events manager, Milken Institute (above left). “With partnering software and social media adoption low at our Global Conference, we stopped using them. They were too expensive. But our smaller Partnering for Cures conference had 300 percent increased usage — resulting in 600 one-on-one meetings.”

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s audience of students is “all about social media,” said Wendy Giammarco, conference and special projects manager (above right). So the organization has Facebook accounts for the annual convention, leadership seminars, and honors institute. “While we’ve opened our own Twitter accounts, a lot of us just don’t have the time to Tweet, and we don’t have the staff resources to do the metrics or monitor the information.” Still, Giammarco’s team managed to save money — $12,000 in production and distribution costs — by posting video interviews of candidates for the honor society’s high-level offices; delegates could view and vote as a chapter.

These are just a few of the insights from the first meeting of ConferenceDirect Meeting Mentor’s Editorial Advisory Council.

Nothing spurs creative thinking more than rising costs. Joico, a manufacturer of hair products, is taking a low-cost viral route to social engagement. It has launched a contest for hair stylists to submit their own five-minute video; chosen videos have been posted on YouTube for viewing by the general public. The stylist whose video gets the most visitors will be a “special guest” at the next meeting, the video will be reproduced professionally, and it may open the meeting. Helping the contest is Joico’s heavy reliance on Facebook and Twitter for feedback from stylists, advisors, educators, and salespeople. “After a meeting two years ago, attendees told us that there was not enough time for community building, so we planned for that last year,” said Patrick Bruner, national education manager.

Worldwide ERC, an association for those involved in employee relocation, “just got into social media last year,” said Cici Thompson, CAE, vice president, meetings and member alliances. “While we don’t have much of a presence on Facebook, we are actively involved in LinkedIn and Twitter. We’ll have a central Twitter wall at our annual meeting. We’re doing a conference blog for the second time, and we bumped up our web activity, adding a site specifically for the meeting.” While she couldn’t put a hybrid meeting into the budget for this year “because it’s expensive,” Thompson is looking at it for next year. “After attending ASAE virtually, I’m really sold on it.”

Because its audience of independent salespeople is constantly online, so is ACN Inc. — from the event brochure with video testimonials, to blogs, weekly training webinars, and Tweets scrolling during the lunch break at meetings of 20,000. “We don’t do promotional materials in print,” said Lisa Krass, CMP, director, global event planning at this direct-selling telecommunications company. “And we will never digitize the event. It’s all about what happens here and when they leave.”

Even with an older member base that is not tech-savvy, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is considering streaming some sessions and posting meeting content online. “Education should have a life after the meeting,” said Kim Struble, CMP, director, conferences and meetings, especially for local government officials located in rural areas or restricted from traveling. But “you can’t just go with the latest craze. You have to figure out what is right for you.” — Maxine Golding

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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