How We Reinvented Our Business By Reinventing Events
21 Jan 2021
By Robert P. Walker, CEO & Founder APB Speakers | When the pandemic hit last March, the event business changed forever. As our clients scrambled to either cancel events featuring our speakers or struggled with how to go virtual, APB immediately went to work. Our mission: to offer a virtual platform that would be the next-best thing to an in-person event.
As anyone who has considered going virtual knows, there are A LOT of options out there. We spent endless hours taking demos, reviewing features and calculating costs. Some had too many bells and whistles. Others, not enough. Some were too complex for clients without in-house tech experts. Still more didn’t offer the features that were integral to creating connections between attendees, or connect them with sponsors or exhibitors. The list of what we found goes on and on. But the one thing that all of these platforms shared was clear: They were designed by techies, not event professionals.
You see, 60 years in the event business as one of the world’s most respected speaker bureaus has taught us that it’s the human connections that make an event a success. We also knew that in the new age of social distancing, that would be more important than ever. By the end of March, we were starting to give up.
Then, we found the perfect partner.
Yes, they were techies—super techies as a matter of fact. But this time it was different. When we made suggestions, they jumped at our ideas and even asked for more. Soon, it became clear that we were forming a unique partnership of event expertise and cutting edge technology. Weeks of collaboration and fine tuning began. We took what was already a great platform, added benefits, customized features, and looked at every way possible to create the event experience that we knew our clients were searching for.
APBVIP (Virtual In Person) was born. As we began to share it with our event planner clients, we knew we had a winner. On one of our very first live demos, a client shared that, like us, she had already taken countless platform demos and that none of them compared to APBVIP—especially considering what is included in a total, one-stop package. Another praised the features that were definitely developed through the eyes of event professionals. Yet another appreciated the way that the APBVIP team was able to find creative solutions to replicate their in-person agenda —from recreating event standards like photo ops and meet & greets to brainstorming ways to generate more revenue from exhibitors and sponsors. All were impressed with the features that actually made going virtual better than an in-person event, like start to finish analytics, a “matchmaking” algorithm to connect attendees and gamification to keep them highly engaged. As we shared APBVIP with clients across our markets—colleges and universities, corporations, associations, healthcare, K-12 education and non-profits—we heard nothing but praise.
Now, months later, the proof is in the events that have actually taken place. One client’s hugely successful centennial celebration was even featured in an industry magazine.
What people are saying about APBVIP:
“Thank you for suggesting, sharing, and supporting this incredible platform. It was an amazing vehicle to deliver our special centennial celebration in the midst of this pandemic, that made it impossible to gather together in person. Thanks to the platform, we were able to have hundreds more people “in the room” with us, share hours more content than we ever could have and still build something that really felt special.”
-UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN
“We liked the virtual event platform for its simplicity and being an intuitive, clear tool. We are amazed by the support from your end. We are really happy with the level of customer service and care you provided.”
-CONFERENCE COORDINATOR, ERLANG SOLUTIONS LTD.
“This platform is closest to what I had visualized for our virtual real estate events. The technology is another level compared to many other platforms. The developers are constantly striving to make it better on a day to day basis, which is amazing. They have a tremendous work ethic and I really appreciate your efforts.”
-CO-FOUNDER, THRIVEMIND MEDIA
“I’m really blown away at the customer service. We joke and say that this platform is the Lamborghini of software. Just sleek, simplistic lines, very fast, and very reliable. And that’s what we were looking for in a solution and that’s what we found with this platform. So grateful. We’re big fans!”
-FOUNDER, CITY REIA
“We looked around the world for a suitable platform to run virtual events during this COVID lockdown. We stumbled across this platform. We’ve utilized it for a number of webinars and we will continue to use it throughout the to run virtual events. We’ve been ecstatic with the level of service ethic of the persons behind it: their ability to get things done, their timing getting back to us. We’re a great fan. We’re on board and we certainly look forward to working with you in the future.”
-THE COLLABORATIVE EXCHANGE
As the great reviews of both the platform and our team’s expertise keep coming in, we’re not resting on our laurels. We continue to respond to client feedback and collaborate with our tech partner to make the ultimate event experience even better. For instance, we recently added breakout rooms to a platform that already offers a network/ballroom, exhibitor halls and more. Every day, we’re inspired by our event planner clients and their challenges to make APBVIP the very best event experience out there.
As we work with event planners across industries, it’s clear that even when things open up again, the virtual option will never be off the table. Experts have projected that travel won’t get back to 2019 levels until mid 2022. So, most events will be “hybrids” of in-person and virtual programming for quite a while. Plus, event organizers have gotten used to the extra revenue that comes with virtual events. With the ability to add thousands of attendees without the cost of a venue and other operating costs, many have found a silver (or should we say, gold!) lining to the shutdown. As a result, they’ve improved their content and prestige by investing the money they used to spend on cocktail receptions, etc. on crowd-drawing speakers and celebrities. As we move into hybrid events, APBVIP provides a very high degree of flexibility, including the ability to add new attendees up until a day before the event.
Yes, the past several months have been a roller coaster ride for everyone connected to events—but we are glad we came through stronger and more united as a team because of it. While we are and will always be a speaker’s bureau, we’ve learned the critical importance of being agile, nimble, thinking outside the box and always staying three steps ahead of the game. APBVIP has helped us to reinvent events for a growing list of satisfied customers—and reinvented our business in the process.