The Coalition of Minority Professional Engineering Societies (COMPES) partnered with Whova to digitally host their Professional Development Conference. Despite it being their first online event, the conference successfully drew in over 53,000 sponsor impressions while attendees drove up engagement levels and exchanged hundreds of messages with the Whova event app.
COMPES is a union of three engineering societies: the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers. Their collective goal is to help Black, Hispanic, and women engineers succeed in their careers with the Coalition’s diverse, supportive network.
Every spring, COMPES hosts its Professional Development Conference, an annual gathering where attendees can network with hundreds of professional engineers as well as attend sessions centered on improving technical and soft skills. Organized by Sowmya Jayaraman and Sreya Vedant, the conference provides educational, supportive resources to inspire connections and empower attendees in their professional and personal growth.
- Abruptly switching to virtual
With COVID cases rising again, the conference had to switch from in person to online. Transitioning the initially in person preparation to an online format could be inconvenient and time consuming.
- Facilitating natural engagement online
Networking online can feel more awkward than networking in person. An event platform that naturally inspires attendee interaction would be helpful.
- Maximizing sponsorship ROI
Sponsors influence the quality and lifespan of events. Organizers had to ensure that sponsors would receive their ROI and secure their support for the next event.
- Hosting live and on-demand sessions
The organizers needed a platform that could make hosting both live and on-demand sessions as simple and easy as possible.
- Flexible platform with responsive customer support
Switching between online, in-person, and hybrid is simple and fast with Whova. Because 95% of Whova features can be used for all three types of events, the organizers only had to change a couple of things to bring the Professional Development Conference completely online: 1) update their event type on their organizer dashboard, and 2) update their sessions with their livestream and video links.
A key Whova asset the COMPES organizers particularly appreciated was Whova’s tech support team. Each event is assigned an account manager who guides organizers through how to use Whova, answers any questions they have, and offers support for the event. For further support, organizers can turn to customer support and success teams. The COMPES organizers in particular appreciated Whova’s customer support team “seamlessly” transferring their event data from an old COMPES account to their new one, updating their conference app and saving them time.
We met all our standards and requirements, and there was a very supportive team.Sowmya Jayaraman
- Sparking conversations with Whova’s engagement features
The COMPES organizers wanted their conference to create a genuine “dialogue” between the speakers and audience, where real connections can be made in a virtual space. Using Whova’s engagement features, they were able to facilitate hundreds of exchanged public and private messages, as well as engage the audience during sessions.
To give the attendees more space to speak during the sessions, the organizers sorted them into smaller groups and let them appear on video during the session to interact with the speaker, bringing more organic interaction to the conference. Other attendees could also participate using Whova’s Session Q&A and live polling features, answering speakers’ questions during the sessions themselves. This way, online sessions didn’t have to be just watching another video – they were interactive, natural, and much more enjoyable for the attendees.
Attendees engaged with speakers through embedded session Q&A, chat, and live polling
- Tiered sponsorship
The COMPES organizers made sure to use Whova to tier their sponsor benefits. They divided their sponsors into Event Host, Platinum, Gold, and Silver tiers, which included automotive companies Nissan in the Event Host tier and Toyota in the Platinum. Paying for extra sponsor benefits means appearing first in the sponsorship page, increasing brand visibility. Organizers can even offer specific sessions to feature up to three sponsors, making sure attendees will remember their company’s name.
Whova also lets sponsors set up their virtual booths themselves. They can upload their own company descriptions, pamphlets, videos, and even host live product demonstrations. This way, sponsors can customize their booths exactly the way they want to, and organizers have one less task off their hands.
The organizers set different tiers for the sponsors, giving them varying levels of visibility
- Session recording and uploading
The conference hosted both live and on-demand sessions, both of which Whova easily supported. Organizers could upload on-demand video sessions directly onto Whova, then attach them to the agenda, making sure attendees had convenient access to the event content.
Organizers could also download live streamed recordings and uadd them to the agenda after the fact, ready for attendees even after the live session was over. With all these features supporting them, the COMPES organizers found the entire session uploading process “all very easily done” with Whova.