The Virtual Format, A New Reality?
By Alejandra Guzman @aleguzman
Click aqui para español- > ¿El formato virtual, una nueva realidad?
Educational and networking events are an important part of my work as an economic developer. This is a way I connect with other professionals and conduct a lot of my business. Events allow our stakeholders to learn, connect, and develop plans. Considering the importance of maintaining these dynamics, the New Orleans Business Alliance as well as many of the organizations in which I contribute as a board member have decided to keep some of their 2020 programming in a virtual format.
Virtual events are online sessions that include the interaction of people in this format, rather than at a physical location. They work because they still allow interaction despite the distance. The type of virtual event will depend on the goals in mind. Event types include formats such as virtual conferences that include a series of sessions or seminars with a single session.
For example, one of the programs I host through the New Orleans Business Alliance is the Real Estate Breakfast in partnership with the Urban Land Institute of Louisiana. During these breakfasts we bring speakers who present us with relevant information in the Real Estate industry. Since we launched this program, we have been quite successful with attendance at maximum capacity and very good feedback.
Due to coronavirus and social distancing requirements we decided to keep our 2020 Real Estate Breakfasts in a virtual format. Naturally, our whole team got a little nervous. We didn’t know what our audience’s response would be.
Fortunately, everything went well and on May 28 we opened our first event in this new virtual format. Our speaker was Bo Kemp, an expert in the area of private-public partnerships and real estate investments. Bo shared some of the tools available to help the Real Estate industry as a response to COVID-19 as well as his perspective on the current context. A great benefit of doing this event virtually is that we had access to people like Bo, who resides in Chicago. If we had done it in New Orleans, we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to bring in out of town experts like him. We were also able to expand the capacity of participants. In past events, we had encountered the need to set a waiting list due to physical space constraints.
Finally, the cost of hosting this event was significantly reduced. Luckily, the audience was very satisfied, and we received great feedback. While we recognize that this format can’t replace the value of networking when we meet in person, virtual events also bring many benefits.
All this has made us reflect and consider a hybrid format for 2021. The interesting thing is that we’re not the only ones thinking this way. It will be interesting to see how the virtual format will take a leading role in the following years. My bet is that we will be seeing much more hybrid formats in many areas including business and academic activities.
For the time being, we must take advantage of the resources we have despite the restrictions that arise.
See you next time!