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by Caroline England, VP, Product
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Hospitality is at the core of Convene’s DNA. The hospitality industry is defined as “relating to or denoting the business of housing or entertaining visitors”—but for us, it goes much further. We know that our people are our business, and not the other way around.

It’s no surprise then that we choose to act quickly and thoughtfully when our industry changes and our community is in need, and last March was no exception.

When we lost our ability to host (and feed!) our meeting planners, attendees, keynote speakers, panelists, and sponsors, we knew we had to alter our offering to meet the demands of our new normal. But we also understood that, while we couldn’t gather in person, our need to meet and engage didn’t actually go anywhere—it just turned digital. So, we did too.

When searching for solutions to this new set of challenges, we consulted our hospitality toolkit and human-centered design philosophy. For over ten years, we’ve utilized human-centered design to solve problems and innovate the physical meeting world, and over the last four years, we’ve implemented it in the flexible office space as well. Operating from a place of empathy, human-centered design frames all solutions through the perspective of the person utilizing the product, space, or service you’re adapting, recognizing the ways they’ll impact their everyday experience. We’ve seen human-centered design improve workday experiences and in-person meetings and we knew it would translate well to today’s virtual world, too.

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Keeping our tried and tested  principles top of mind, we went to work developing our virtual offering. Our goal was to create a seamless experience that was anticipatory, adaptive, authentic, and inspiring. To do so, our product team focused first on the most important part of the event—the part which absolutely cannot go wrong—the main stage. By listening to our clients and testing our initial prototypes internally, it became clear to us that the anatomy of a meeting really encompasses much more than just the day-of production: it includes everything from the pre-event phase to the ways the event lives on afterward.

We felt strongly that our platform, Convene Virtual Meetings, should reflect this reality while keeping a human-centered experience at the core of its design.

To bring our vision to life, our team of product designers devised an intuitive, seamless speaker greenroom and event site where the main stage is front and center—just like it is in our overall product focus. Before an event, the presenter and keynote speakers perform a tech check and practice in our greenroom. As participants log into the event, a Tech Producer shares live stats with presenters in the greenroom so they can gauge the size of the crowd.

To ensure the best attendee experience during your event,the main stage should have the production quality of live T.V. But in the business of live streaming, we need to plan for the unexpected. That’s why our platform wasn’t designed to rely on a single Content Delivery Network (CDN) and offers presenters live access to our experienced tech producers. These producers can test a presenter’s home internet connectivity, improve their sound and picture quality, and troubleshoot an assortment of issues. When the main stage goes live, the Tech Producer will also control all of the graphical elements appearing in the stream, ensuring seamless transitions between all participating panelists.

Attendees are encouraged to ask questions while at the main stage, populating a live word cloud with their answers. With assistance from our technical team working behind the scenes, presenters can also poll the audience and display the results in real time. By featuring our main stage module alongside chat, Q&A, and polling modules, the experience is truly user-friendly for both participants and presenters. And with our networking features, attendees can also chat with each other and continue networking throughout  the day as well as after the main event concludes.

Planning a virtual or hybrid event?
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With post-event recordings and built-in networking features, our platform helps your event live on even after the production wraps up. Once the event is over, the main stage recording is available and can be watched by any participants tuning in at a later date.

Since our platform is URL-based and proprietary to Convene, we’ve made best-in-class improvements to our tech stack. Our infrastructure features a strong data pipeline which enables us to share feedback with planners on what went well during the event’s lifecycle and where we see opportunities for improvement. This feedback also gives our team insight on how to build upon our platform features and enhance user’s experience. With a two-week agile sprint cycle, and a commitment to update our platform weekly with new features,we are constantly improving as we learn, adapting our platform and offering to ensure that your event needs are met—and exceeded—even in our ever-changing world. At Convene, people are our business, and our platform was created with your experience in mind.

by Caroline England, VP, Product
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