Event Professionals Turn to Live Video to Build Buzz

January 24, 2018

As organic social media reach dwindles and competition for attendees increases, event professionals are increasingly using live streaming on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites to achieve a number of goals.

Experts expect the live video trend to grow throughout 2018, including mdg President Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, who believes that given the experiential nature of trade shows and conferences, it makes perfect sense why live video is so hot right now.

“Video allows us to better engage the senses of our prospects and share stories that will entertain, educate, nurture and ultimately drive attendance,” Hardcastle-Geddes said.

She continued, “Live streaming on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can build brand awareness, engage audiences, communicate the brand story, bring a value proposition to life, deepen their relationships with prospective and current event participants, and drive first-time and repeat attendance to trade shows and conferences.”

From books to motorcycles to entrepreneurship, events in a wide variety of industries have turned to Facebook Live to meet these goals.

B. Alan Bourgeois, founder and producer of seven book festivals around Texas, uses Facebook Live during events to gain more traction prospective attendees and to promote the authors that are spending their money to attend.

“We then post the videos on our website to continue to promote them,” Bourgeois said. “In addition, the vendors promote the page, which gives us more exposure and continues to increase attendance in the following years.”

The Progressive International Motorcycle Shows (IMS) uses Facebook Live to give motorcycle enthusiasts a real-time look at what’s happening onsite at the events.

“The goal is to broaden our social reach beyond the geographies that we visit with each show while also attracting new attendees and fans,” said Meredith Loza, IMS marketing manager.

She continued, “We use Facebook Live for demonstrations on how to customize and maintain your motorcycle and in-depth interviews with custom motorcycle builders and industry experts. We also plan to use it at our next show to give viewers a closer look at new motorcycle models from key manufacturers before our doors even open.”

Laura Gallagher, president of The Creative Company, used Facebook Live to kick off a full day conference celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Wisconsin.

“The benefit of doing Facebook Live at a paid-for event is to bring in additional viewers and spectators,” she explained.

UBM SWIMLESSONS, an educational forum that provides fashion brands with business growth tools, has used Facebook Live on multiple occasions.

“We had two main goals for using Facebook Live: to expand the reach of the seminar beyond the trade show floor and to utilize our show’s Facebook accounts as a hub of educational information that could be referenced by brands, retailers and industry insiders throughout the season and year,” explained Mike Alic, managing director of Fashion Group.

While the benefits of live video are abundant, challenges surround creating the right experience for the audience, including sound and video quality issues in a big show setting.

“I think it works best when the camera and its subject are closer together,” Gallagher said. “My preference is that we are within six feet of one another at most (and) in a smaller room it’s easier to control the acoustics and position yourself closer to the stage.”

mdg, which manages live social video for its clients, has discovered a few best practices for producing and overcoming the challenges of live video.

“It starts with having the right equipment, which often includes a stabilizer, a portable backdrop and a mic and twice the Internet speed technically required,” explained Hardcastle-Geddes.

She added, “But more important is the strategy that sets the course for the video. It’s important to consider the overall objectives and how will live video contribute to them.”

Alic also stressed the importance of ensuring reliable Internet connection.

“Our main takeaways from implementing Facebook Live was the need for a hardline for internet, as Wi-Fi can be unreliable in large venues,” he said.

Another critical factor in creating successful live video is pre-promotion to ensure the target audience is aware a live video is coming. mdg subscribes to this tactic for each of its videos.

“Our teams write intriguing, accurate descriptions of what is to come and let audiences know when the live broadcast will begin – obvious steps that are often overlooked,” Hardcastle-Geddes said.

Besides heavily promoting its Facebook Live presence across its social media channels, blog and website, UBM SWIMLESSONS found that putting budget dollars into pre-promotion can expand results even further.

“We learned that sponsored posts for Facebook Live can reach a very large audience,” Alic said.

Using live video streaming can help event planners achieve their brand-building and attendance goals in new ways. At this time, Facebook Live appears to be the preferred platform for live video streaming, as it offers an easy way for events to connect with the audiences they’ve spent so much time and resources building. As this trend grows, the industry will likely develop best practices that will enable the creation of more highly-engaging content.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.