Navigating the New Platform: “How to Guide” to Conference & Expo 2021

WMCCAI’s 2021 Conference and Expo will be virtual for the first time in the Chapter’s history, due to the ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The opportunity to connect is vast though different!  It is important that our members understand how to navigate the virtual event, so the Conference & Expo Committee Chairs have put together this “How To Guide” to lead you to a path of success.

The Manager Perspective

Regardless of the venue, there are many advantages to participating in C&E. The event provides the education, connections to vendors and networking our industry needs. The committee is working hard to maximize the advantages of our annual conference in this new virtual world.

The Education and C&E committees have worked together to provide a variety of education sessions. You will have access to all the education sessions held over the three event days. Sessions will be offered live during the convention and all of them will be recorded. This will enable you to view the sessions you missed even after the event has ended.

BACK IN 2021: All education sessions have been recertification approved! You can earn up to 23 hours of continued education credit and apply it towards your PCAM, CMCA or AMS designations!

The expo portion is your opportunity to meet vendors and will not conflict with scheduled education sessions, making it easier to visit with vendors. Each “booth” will have the ability to have live interactions and the option to schedule an appointment. It will be easy to move around the show “floor” with vendors searchable alphabetically and by category. You will be able to stop by to say “Hello” to your current vendors or gather information for new vendors. Of course, we will have a game with prizes to visit the vendors! Be sure to visit all the virtual vendors – leave your online business card to win prizes, add their resource information to your virtual tote bag, and pop into their video link to say hello!

One thing we all enjoy at C&E is just a time to relax and network with friends and colleagues (even those that work at different companies). We are incorporating a Coffee Shoppe and Happy Hours into the event.

Our world has changed; C&E adjusted accordingly to continue to meet your needs while recognizing the responsibility to keep us all safe. This year, you won’t have to battle D.C. traffic, hunt for a parking space, or figure out the Metro schedule. You will need to navigate the virtual “floor” and Zoom connections. Our C&E and Education committees have worked hard to provide a conference & expo that will meet your needs.  We hope you will join us this year and look forward to when we can meet again in person.

The Business Partner’s Perspective

As a longtime exhibitor and business partner, the thought of going virtual initially gave me chills. At the start of this pandemic, I found myself eagerly attending every virtual event I could sign up for. Absorbing the content while noting the pros and cons of the platform and navigation for potential later use as needed. I was pleased to hear the not only had our chapter made the right decision to err on the side of safety for all those who participate, but they craved feedback to make sure this event is as educational and successful as it always is!

As an exhibitor, how do you prepare? At this point, you should have already designed your virtual booth. If you purchased a premium booth, you will have received the registration list. (I am confident you have connected with everyone and invited them to visit your virtual booth!)

  1. Decide which of your team members will be assigned to your virtual booth during the designated exhibit hours.
  2. Set yourself up in a quiet space so that you can have conversation without interruption.
  3. Get yourself a beverage, a snack, and have your calendar open so you can be ready to schedule follow up meetings in the coming weeks.

Each exhibitor controls their own success. So, how do you make this virtual platform successful for your organization?

Here are a few tips and tricks…

Who does not love a prize?! Incentivizing the crowd is win/win. Whether it be a raffle or a race to be the first 25 people to visit your booth for a presentation, people are motivated by gamification and the adrenaline of possibly winning a prize! Attendees will have a list of exhibitor prizes available in their virtual tote bags to encourage them to stop by to enter!

Prepare. Know your audience and have no shame trying to connect. Our manager partners understand it is our job to sell our services, but remember time is valuable. You are the host of your booth and the captain of the conversation. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Engage.

Remember that while designated exhibit hours exist, attendees can visit your booth whenever they want. Make sure your staff list shows which member of your staff is active. Not familiar with Calendly? It is a free online appointment scheduler and can be your lifesaver during this event when you or another staffer cannot be present. I encourage you to use all the tools available in your exhibitor toolkit. Leave no stone unturned!

What should you expect from this virtual event as an exhibitor? First and foremost, remember, no two virtual events are the same. So, forget about any past events you have participated in and go into Day One with a fresh mindset. You will have almost all the perks of an in-person event minus the all-day booth staffing on a Saturday and the booth setups and teardowns. This platform will help make sure that we stay unified as a chapter and remember that we are still together but apart… for now.

To be successful at the 2021 virtual Managers, Homeowners and Business Partners will need to plan prepare, and engage.  The virtual platform allows for the flexibility and safety needed to manage our expectations of Our New World.  We cannot wait to see you and share your success at our 2021 Virtual Conference!

By Donna Aker, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Kandis Dwyer

Donna is employed by Associa-CMC as a manager at Embrey Mill HOA. She has worked for CMC as a manager since 2008. Donna received her PCAM in 2015. She co-chairs the 2021 Conference & Expo Committee and has served in this capacity for several years. Donna is also an active member of Optimist International. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, and walking.

Kandis is the business development manager at CertaPro Painters of Arlington. She has been in the construction industry since 2004 and with CertaPro Arlington since 2016. Kandis co-chairs the 2021 Conference & Expo Committee and is very active on several other committees throughout the Chapter. As an Army wife, she volunteers with her husband to support the military community in her free time. Kandis also enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her 3 dogs.

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