Building a Thankful Audience

1thankfulAs we celebrate Thanksgiving, we thought it would be a good time to go beyond reflecting on what we are thankful for and look instead at what you want your event attendees and sponsors to be thankful for as they leave your events.

Beyond learning something and meeting great people, what do you want your attendees to get out of the event?

Here are four things we think event planners would be grateful to hear: Continue reading

Behind the Curtain: I/ITSEC

1ITSECToday we introduce a new series on GovEvents, “Behind the Curtain.”  In these posts, we will talk to the producers of some of the biggest shows for our government audience.  For our inaugural post, we feature Debbie Langelier, CEM, Director of Exhibits and Sponsorships for I/ITSEC.

Held this year from November 30-December 4, the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) is the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training conference.  The event includes peer-reviewed paper presentations, tutorials, special events, professional workshops, a commercial exhibit hall, a serious games competition, and STEM events for teachers and secondary students.

Thanks to Debbie and her team for sharing some of the thought process that goes into putting on this annual event which attracts 15,000-18,000 attendees each year.

Q: We’ve been hearing recently that travel and training budgets are starting to loosen up a bit.  Are you seeing this? Continue reading

Living In A Streaming World

1streamingWe’ve talked about how to get quality video and how to best produce hybrid events, but there is a third element to the video and event equation – attendee streaming. With apps like Meerkat, Glide, Periscope, and others (not to mention just general smart phone video), attendees now have the power to share live video of your event.

Video streaming is one technology that we must accept is here to stay. How do we ensure that we are still putting our best face forward when we are not in control of how it is delivered?

Continue reading

Tech Trends in Event Planning

1trendsMany of the events listed on have to do with technology and how to apply it to meet government challenges. It makes sense then to apply the technology that is being discussed to the event itself. Here are a few major tech innovations and trends that can have a huge impact on the government and event market alike. 

  • RFID – Radio Frequency Identification is the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. Government and industry use this technology for tracking contents of containers on ships, military equipment, critical infrastructure and more. For events, RFID tags can easily be embedded in wristbands, badges or plastic credit cards. This can help speed up the registration process, collect qualitative and quantitative data, and engage attendees through social platforms and email by serving them information targeted to where they are and what they have been doing at the event.

Continue reading

The Case of the Disappearing Links

1linksWhile we were at the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition a couple of weeks ago, we heard from a number of attendees that they have had trouble accessing information from emails because of a change in policy at DoD. New email security measures within DoD and throughout the federal agencies are taking live links out of emails (stripping links) and, in some cases, removing characters from the URLs. This means even if you copy and paste the web address it may not work if there are missing characters.

The motivation behind this is likely to thwart foreign hacking attempts and phishing schemes where hackers will send an email that looks like it is from an official/legitimate source but contains links that, when clicked, take users to sites with malicious code.  We’ve written here before about the need to educate all employees, not just those in IT, as to their role in cyber security. Simply removing access to links does little to educate people about their role in protecting government data and systems.

While we applaud the effort to step up security, the practice of link stripping is concerning for all involved. Federal employees shared their frustrations with their inability to navigate to information they need to stay informed, be it a news article, registration for a training opportunity, or to download a whitepaper.

We encourage our members to communicate concerns to their IT departments and we’ll do our part in talking to IT managers as well. But as we all know, policy, once enacted, is hard to change. So how do we work around this new reality? A couple ideas:

  • Make key events or news visible and accessible from your home page. If you are trying to drive people to a specific link, “advertise” it on your homepage. Email recipients may not be able to get to the exact page, but they should be able to find your home page and get to the info contained in an email message.
  • Look for other venues to drive people to links. If your audience cannot access links to your content at work, see how you can drive them via more “personal” channels. Look into Facebook ad campaigns or upping the number of posts you put on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.
  • Think about plain text. Everything old may be new again. While it may not be as pretty, plain text emails may help get better conversion rates. You can also try a mix of HTML, where in addition to the embedded links, you also list the URLs within the message.

We’d love to hear your feedback. For our government users, have you found a work around to stripped links? Let us know in the comments.