Executive Summary

Northern Colorado Writers (NCW) partnered with Whova to bring together hundreds of writers for their 16th annual conference. NCWC took place primarily online through the Whova web and mobile app, where hundreds of guests attended live stream workshops, participated in active discussion forums, and connected with other passionate writers. 

Interview with the Organizer

About 2021 Northern Colorado Writers Conference

An organization based in Northern Colorado, NCW supports writers through education, resources, networking, collaboration, submission, and promotion. The NWC annual conference caters to a variety of genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. 

The 2021 NCWC took place in April, where writers attended live workshops, educational sessions, group networking sessions, and engaged through Whova’s app to develop their skills, learn from each other, and share their work. The 2021 conference was so successful that the organizers are already looking forward to hosting a hybrid one next year with Whova.

 

3,000+

Community Board messages

900+

Private Messages Sent

~200

Photos Shared

91%

App Download Rate

~250,000 

Sponsor impressions

Challenges

  • Organizing a remote conference for the first time

After unfortunately having to cancel the 2020 conference, the NWC director was determined to come back strong in a virtual format. The NCWC typically hosts an audience of older users who might have been tentative toward using  new technology, so the organizers wanted to be certain everything could run smoothly online and that the attendees could easily access the conference content in one convenient place.

  • Offering a virtual platform where attendees could learn and engage together

The NCW annual conference is a place for attendees to be able to learn from successful authors and join up with other writers. An important goal of the conference was to provide a collaborative experience despite most sessions being virtual.

  • Facilitating live and concurrent sessions virtually

During some parts of the week, the conference had at least 4 writing workshops running concurrently for the majority of the day. The organizers knew that live streaming on a tight schedule like this could be challenging, so they needed to make sure they were using a platform that would support it.

  • Creating an effective virtual space to host exhibitors 

The NCW Conference featured many exhibitors, including various publishing companies, production centers, and other private vendors. As the first virtual NCW Conference, it was especially important to provide them with good engagement from the participants.  

  • Carrying on the conference’s legacy despite the change in format

The NCW has been building a community of writers for nearly 20 years, and its annual conference is a unique occasion for writers in the region to come together. This year’s NCWC wasn’t going to look like the typical in-person conference, so it was really important for the organizers to continue to offer a fun, high-quality event that would keep writers coming back each year. 

Solutions

  • Encouraging participants to use the Community Board

Whova’s Leaderboard Contest helped the organizers inspire the participants to start chatting and writing discussion posts in the app. The contest incentivizes attendees to interact with the conference engagement features by awarding attendees points when they interact with discussion posts, create meetups, responding to live session polls, or completing session feedback forms.

The writers took to the Community Board to post nearly 200 discussion topics, including threads of book recommendations, favorite quotes, writing tips, and more. The community activity didn’t stop there. The attendees also created various virtual video meet-ups through the platform to connect with other writers of the same genre or grab coffee with other remote attendees from the same area. 

  • Scheduling live stream sessions through Whova’s Session Manager

The NCWC organizers used Whova’s Virtual/Hybrid center to set up and manage concurrent live streamed sessions. While this was the organizers’ first experience running a conference virtually, with Whova’s live stream options, they could run multiple sessions at a time for the whole day. 

They also used Whova’s Track Manager to organize and label each session by topic or type, such as “Poetry,” “Keynote Address,” and “Creativity/Motivation.” This created a convenient way for attendees to browse the many available sessions based on their interests.

  • Setting up exhibitors in virtual booths for participants to explore

The Northern Colorado Writers Conference exhibitors were offered great exposure opportunities at the conference. The organizers set up virtual exhibitor booths through the app, where attendees could check out videos, links, deals, and offers from each company, as well as live chat with the booth staff. 

To increase exhibitor visibility, the NCW organizers used Whova’s Passport Contest gamification feature, which was a fun way for attendees to earn points by exploring and engaging with different exhibitor booths. The organizers made sure to remind attendees to drop into the booths during each session, boosting booth traffic throughout the event. 

  • Giving attendees an easy way to share their feedback

Through Whova’s virtual conference platform, NCW was able to reach a broader audience virtually and provide an interactive experience for participants with more engagement than ever. Planning ahead for a hybrid conference with Whova next year, the organizers wanted to get feedback on how to best incorporate the virtual components of the event. To give attendees the chance to share opinions on the conference to ensure satisfaction for next year, they applied a Session Feedback form to every session on the agenda, where attendees could answer questions chosen by the organizers and submit any comments. 

  • Managing the conference from beginning to end through a central platform

The organizers offered their attendees with all of the tools and resources they could through Whova to make the event as comprehensive and accessible as possible. To ensure that users could be familiar with the virtual platform, the organizers offered live tutorial sessions leading up to the conference and shared Whova’s user guides with the attendees. 

After the event, recordings of the sessions, useful resources, past discussions and attendee profiles were available through the Whova app so attendees could continue to explore the conference.

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