As meeting professionals pivot to virtual during the coronavirus slowdown, traditional streaming technology is delivering some aspects of the face-to-face meeting more effectively than others. Record the keynote? Check. Poll and ask questions? Sure. But what about the important business function of connecting buyers and sellers in a series of one-on-one meetings? A new solution is on the way.
Laura Welsh, CEO at Conference Software Solutions (CSS), has long helped meeting professionals with the logistics of connecting people during hosted-buyer events. Now, when the event industry literally can’t do what it does best—bring people together—she decided to enable that dynamic in the virtual environment.
“Zoom is fine when you already know the people you are working with, but how do you get a warm introduction?” Welsh asked herself. Her answer: a pair of products that will allow the industry to gather in new ways via a seamless end-user experience that replicates many of the features of the speed-dating-format of a F2F hosted-buyer meeting.
A Meeting Continuum
Conventus, the first product, facilitates “relaxed scheduling.” It is the bridge between a webinar that offers educational components and serendipitous networking, where attendees are given contact information for others in the group and then empowered to set up conversations.
The second innovation is Algo, an algorithm-driven tool (get where the name came from). It will be debuted at Virtual Smart Meetings Experience on April 28 and May 19, and it brings the best of high-impact business events to the desktop—so that even when meeting professionals can’t leave the house, they can continue planning for the future. Mutually beneficial meetings are realized with an assist from video chats and integrated app software.
Welsh calls this “extreme networking,” and she built in organizer controls to let the host monitor and “tap people on the shoulder” if they need to move on to the next meeting.
Algo also takes into account the human element of people sheltering at home, including the distractions of pets and kids. It starts with a virtual check-in and a training, so everyone is comfortable on the intuitive software, even if they aren’t techies.
The tool also tracks whether people actually show up for a meeting and allows the host to sub in someone else if another attendee steps away.
Welsh suggests incentivizing attendees to participate with a chance to win a compelling prize if the person is present. “That way we are not punishing, but rewarding people,” she explains.
“It won’t replace face-to-face, but it will help drive business when we can’t meet,” Welsh says.