Make Sure Your Website Is a Good Host

Posted: Sep 15, 2020
Tapping the Long-Term Potential of Virtual Meetings Technology

Get Your Website Ready to Host Virtual Meetings, and More

If your organization has decided to take the leap into the new world of virtual meetings the IT team will need to ensure your website is properly integrated with both internal and external systems and applications before you turn on the cameras.


Most if not all organizations have had to implement one of the many applications that enable virtual meetings in order to maintain business operations. After what was for a many a somewhat awkward beginning, virtual meetings have now become standard operating procedure in the current work environment.


That growing acceptance has organizations looking to tap virtual meeting technology to reach out and connect with target audiences as well as supplement diminished revenue streams. For example, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), a Vanguard client, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a virtual conference, EN20X — A Virtual Xperience , that replaced its annual in-person meeting. The ENA put together three days of events, education sessions, and a virtual exhibit hall filled with the association's partners.


A Brave New World


Virtual gatherings like the ENA conference are likely going to remain an important part of business going forward. A report published in June 2020 by advertising consultancy The 614 Group found about a quarter of marketing professionals (27%) don't expect attendance at in-person events to return to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, just more than half of marketers (51%) think live gatherings will likely continue to have a virtual element even after the health crisis subsides.


For the IT team, however, hosting virtual meetings is more involved than the technology used for internal staff meetings. The organization's website has to be seamlessly integrated not only with the virtual meeting technology and other external platforms — such as your CRM, payment processors and social media — but also with both your own internal programs, such membership and learning management systems.


In addition, beyond the virtual meeting itself, the tech team will have to ensure they have the systems in place to handle a wealth of new content in multiple formats that likely will be generated by the event. In order to provide the greatest value to registrants, and ultimately to the host organization, the content will need to be tagged and categorized and readily accessible through search functionality.


Gearing Up

 The first — and perhaps the most important — thing for the technology team to address is to ensure the host organization's website is ready to pull off a virtual meeting and create a meaningful user experience for registrants and sponsors alike.


For starters, the website will need to be able to offer an easy way to register, pay fees, collect contact information, and track attendance. The website also might need to track additional items, such as continuing education credits, for attendees, which Vanguard has been able to achieve using integration with attendance data.


Other technology that might be needed will depend on the nature of the virtual meeting. A survey of 343 media and advertising professionals published in June 2020 by advertising consultancy The 614 Group found 62% of respondents predicted virtual meetings in the future will be more global with live video feeds from key speakers.


Other expected features virtual groups tailored to defined groups of experts and specialists (59%), virtual gatherings of national and local experts to foster closer communities (51%), and member-only networking events to connect businesses with prospects (47%).


Long-Term Support

 Once the virtual meeting is over, the tech team will have to ensure they have the systems in place to handle a wealth of new content in multiple formats that likely will be generated by the event


For example, the site will need a content management system, such as Sitefinity from Progress Software, that is scalable and can facilitate the tagging and categorization of content as well as easily pull in content from content delivery networks like YouTube. In addition, the site might need to upgrade its search functionality to allow faceted and federated search so registrants have ready access to event-related content that is relevant to them.


The ways in which organizations conduct their business are undergoing dramatic changes. Virtual meetings are growing in acceptance and popularity with no signs of disappearing even after the current public health crisis dissipates. Smart organizations will start to prepare now to ensure their websites are prepared to handle this new virtual world.


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Michael Wiley

President Vanguard Technology