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We are still just scratching the surface when it comes to implementing virtual events, as the next year of meetings and events will likely prove, but already FICP meetings professionals are delivering education, networking and entertainment through a variety of virtual delivery methods. A sample of case studies follows, and FICP meetings professional members and hospitality partners are encouraged to contribute their own success stories in TheNetwork to keep sharing.
I recently held two different Virtual Award Ceremonies, with BlueJean as the technology provider. We used a lot of the creative theme from the destination we were originally going to be in, and the people really loved it. Along with the qualifiers, invitations to join the event were sent to their peers and their extended families to allow them to celebrate alongside the qualifiers. We sent qualifiers a personalized charcuterie board with all the ingredients and instructions on how to assemble. We tailored it to specific dietary needs to make it more personalized, with options that included dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian. The approach was well received. Freestyle entertainer Kelley James created personalized song introductions for each of our territories, which brought in an entertainment aspect alongside recognition. Kelley also engaged with the audience via the chat feature of the virtual meeting tool and customized our closing song. At the end, we invited the top winners to say a few words live. It was wildly successful.
– Heidi Carlisle, Second Vice President, Travel, Meetings & Incentives, Aflac
Within Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, we have been hosting Virtual Wine Tasting events. These events are put on for internal business teams, advisory boards and clients. To date, all of the participating wineries have been located in California. Each has had a slightly different style, but all have been well-received by the groups. We order one to two bottles of wine per participant and have them shipped by the winery. Then we schedule a Zoom call where the vintner or winery representative walks everyone through the wines and answers questions. These events have replaced some in-person networking events that would have been part of the cancelled live meetings. The feedback on the virtual winery tours has been great. Well….how could anyone really complain about a wine tasting? But part of the success that was unexpected is the relationship with some smaller wineries. These folks rely on their wine rooms and local sales, and are hurting without this additional corporate support/business. One of the wineries called me to say that a participant called her directly to schedule an event for his own team because he was so impressed with the event. She was grateful for the business, and I realized the additional impact and reach this program garnered.
These groups would normally have chatted over cocktails if in person, so the virtual wine tasting was a great alternative for achieving the same goals. We have kept them each 30 people or fewer to enhance the interactivity.
In addition to the wine tastings, we have been hosting Virtual Networking Groups. There are 200 colleagues in my area of the business (Consulting Group), normally located in four different office locations. In an effort to foster networking and engagement during this time, we have arranged groups based on areas of interest as determined by a survey. We had them participate in Zoom calls about their pets, favorite travel destinations, gardening tips and workout ideas. We even had a team member who bakes lead a baking class over Zoom. Next week, we are hosting a Virtual Bingo event that is open to the entire team. We want our employees to feel connected even though they cannot be together in the office right now. This has been a great way to connect with others.
– Monica Heanue, CMP, Executive Director, CAO, Consulting Group and Graystone Consulting, Morgan Stanley
We had more than 1,000 people join a recent Virtual Awards Program – double our expected attendance! With so many moving parts, we focused a lot of energy on preparation, which included a continuous cross-reference of the script and show flow, collaborative team access to all documents via SharePoint, dry runs with the internal team, speakers and production teams, and debriefs after the dry runs. We provided a themed Zoom background to presenters and delivered “celebration” baskets to the winners’ addresses. It was a unique experience to enable the qualifiers to celebrate amongst their family members. We went in knowing there would be delays with sound and visuals at some point, which helped us go with the flow versus aiming for perfection. This also made the event feel real and not over-produced, as the audience could empathize. Overall the event was a huge success. While survey results are pending, we received “thank you” emails from the client and leaders. Although it is too soon to tell if it will be the new norm to host awards virtually, for now it is a wonderful platform for recognizing winners.
– FICP Meetings Professional Member
Transamerica has been doing Virtual Chats with the golf pros we sponsor on the PGA and LPGA tours. The first forum included all four pros, and we followed that up by organizing individual Chats with each pro, and inviting our clients to attend. The audience has ranged from 50 to 500, depending on the Chat. Our platform was Virtual Array technology, through Educational Measures, which allowed us to Zoom the Chat between the Pro and Moderator to a live WebEx that the attendees could view, type in questions and take notes on the page. This platform allows for large number of attendees, yet it isn’t unwieldly like large Zoom chats. They have been very successful and a great way for our sales teams to connect with their clients. In addition, we own the recorded Chats to use as follow-up with clients or to retrieve snippets for marketing.
– Pam Schrock, CMM, CMP, Senior Manager, Meeting & Events, Transamerica