2020 HR Indiana Annual Conference & Expo (Virtual)

Success Story with Whova

Executive Summary

Like many events, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)’s Indiana chapter needed to find a virtual solution for holding their annual conference and expo during the COVD-19 pandemic. As an event that particularly emphasized their impressive exhibit hall and array of networking opportunities, they decided to partner with Whova to maximize virtual interaction. The result was a massively successful event, with thousands of messages exchanged and even more leads collected by exhibitors.

About the HR Indiana Conference

The HR Indiana Conference is a conference and expo that brings together Human Resources professionals from around Indiana to learn and grow within the industry. One of the conference’s main features is a large exhibit hall, where attendees can learn about new companies and services, and exhibitors can gather valuable leads. Despite the unfamiliar virtual format, the event team wanted to be sure to find a way to bring all these benefits online. The team partnered with Whova and ended up holding the 2020 HR Indiana Conference virtually from August 24 to August 26.

Challenges

Despite the challenges of being remote, the team was determined that the event be just as strong as ever. While they knew things would be different, it was especially important to find new, innovative ways deliver on the event’s most important benefits from the past, such as:

1. Getting exhibitors useful leads: With an online expo, the first question is the best way to not only show off all the exhibitors, but also help them interact with attendees and gather useful leads. Without the large exhibit hall the conference was accustomed to, the organizers needed to find a way to convince exhibitors that participating online could still provide all the same benefits. 

2. Virtually connecting exhibitors and attendees: Getting to interact with both exhibitors and fellow attendees was a major draw for the conference. They couldn’t stop at just giving attendees useful information; genuine engagement with both exhibitors and fellow attendees was essential to gathering more leads and creating valuable professional connections. 

3. Increasing virtual booth traffic: With attendees participating in the conference at home, it was also a concern that attendees might not take full advantage of the exhibit hall during their breaks. The organizers wanted to give attendees an extra incentive to explore and interact with as much of the Virtual Exhibit Hall as possible. 

4. Easily inputting digital exhibitor information and keeping them updated online: Event organizers already have a lot on their plate, and switching to a new format only adds more things to do! It was important to make the process of setting up the Virtual Exhibit Hall as simple as possible, and to give the organizers a convenient way to stay in touch with each exhibitor.

Solutions

Fortunately, Whova’s in-depth, engagement-focused features were able to help cover all these needs! With the help of our Whova team, the HR Indiana Annual Conference organizers were easily able to achieve each of their goals. Here’s how we did it:

1. Whova’s virtual exhibitor booths were a perfect fit for this event! Each exhibitor could set up a virtual booth, where many displayed a video introducing their company, as well as a livestream that allowed them to hold demonstrations and speak directly to any attendees. With a live chat function to answer any questions and in-booth promotions, collecting leads online was easier than ever.

2. Whova gives both attendees and booth staff personal profiles, so attendees can reach out individually to interesting exhibitors and chat with fellow attendees. Each virtual exhibitor booth also came equipped with a chat sidebar and a Q&A function that enabled attendees to quickly ask questions and exchange information. These connections were especially valuable for networking and helping exhibitors collect even more important leads.

3. Organizers could further encourage engagement by choosing from one of Whova’s multiple opportunities for virtual gamification. The HR Indiana Annual Conference decided to use the Passport Contest, which is specifically designed to encourage exhibitor booth traffic. Event attendees interacted with 40 different virtual booths to get “stamps” from each and be entered into a raffle for a $500 gift card! The booths ended up getting lots of interaction, with XX total messages sent through the booth chat function!

4. The virtual exhibit hall even saved the organizers time. The full list of exhibitors can be uploaded to Zoom in minutes from an Excel sheet, and from there, organizers were able to empower exhibitors to build and customize their own virtual booth, ensuring it was exactly the way they wanted it without any tedious back-and-forth email communications. The organizers also kept communication with the exhibitors efficient and easy by using Whova’s Email Exhibitors tool, which quickly sends out automatically customized emails to whichever exhibitors you need to reach.

Results

Exhibitors

%

Attendee app downloads

Exhibitor leads

Passport stamps collected

Booth views

Messages exchanged

Quotes

“We have lots of new opportunities for our exhibitors as we work through a Virtual Exhibit Hall, where you can still sign up for prizes and drop by and meet with them. The Whova app, which we’ve used for a couple years now, has been enhanced, so there are lots of opportunities to network on Whova as well. It’s different, but we’ll still have lots of opportunities to interact with people!”

JoDee Curtis

Chair of HR Indiana Conference, Society for Human Resource Management

This has been a terrific conference. I hope we will be able to attend virtually in the future as well.”

Diane Dartis

Attendee

“This year’s virtual conference is excellent and hope we can see this with future events as well. Thank you to all that have put the work into coordinating the speakers and vendors to make this work for everyone!”

Terry Myers

Attendee

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