The Space Sector Market Conference was held for the first time as a hybrid event, both on the MIT campus and online. The organizers partnered with the Whova event app to bring together a variety of professionals working in space exploration, including the NASA Senior Advisor for Budget and Finance, the Director of Operations for US Space Command, MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics Department Head, and the CEOs of companies like Draper, Rogue Space Systems, and Space Economy Rising.
With Whova’s hybrid settings and closely integrated registration system, the event was able to easily manage and connect both virtual and in-person attendees as well as secure strong sponsor ROI with high levels of visibility.
Interview with the Organizer
About the Space Sector Market Conference | MIT
Held in collaboration with MIT, the Space Center Market Conference assembled top government officials, academics, and commercial industry leaders to network, discuss policy, and learn about the latest developments in commercial space missions.
Collaboration and networking were major benefits of this event, so it was critical that those attending from the MIT campus in Cambridge and those tuning in virtually from around the world would both be able to engage.
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- Bringing hybrid audiences together: While hybrid events can be a great way of getting the benefits of in-person and virtual events, it can also be difficult to make the two groups feel connected and give them equal experiences at the event. The organizers wanted to make sure in-person and remote attendees would both be able to participate.
- Managing multiple attendee types: As an event with multiple ticket types and participants attending in two different ways, the organizers needed a streamlined method for managing registration, attendee information, and access to different types of sessions.
- Attracting sponsors: This was the event’s first year, so they would have to gather all new sponsors. With many sponsors still skeptical about virtual and hybrid events, it was important to create attractive benefits packages to draw them in.
- Effectively promoting the event: With several high-profile speakers and quality event content, the organizers needed a convenient way to showcase their event and attract attendees.
- Managing both audiences with Whova’s hybrid settings
The organizers were able to effectively bring both audiences together by engaging with shared features through the Whova app. Whova’s features are reflected across both mobile and desktop, so virtual attendees could participate in session chats and Q&A or join in discussions through the event’s Community Board discussion forum from their computers while in-person attendees participated on mobile. Attendee profiles were also marked as in-person or virtual, making it easier for them to connect in the most effective ways.
Attendee profiles can display whether they were attending in person or virtually
The organizers could also control content for the two audiences. With Whova, sessions that are virtual-only or in-person only can be marked to only show up for the corresponding attendee type, with hybrid sessions showing up for both audiences. Organizers can also choose to send announcements, surveys, and more to a specific attendee type so they only receive the content relevant to them.
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- Using a tightly integrated registration system
Using Whova’s registration system, information collected through registration was immediately integrated into the platform. When attendees purchased an in-person or virtual ticket, their event type was immediately marked for Whova’s hybrid settings.
The organizers also created three different questions forms for the various ticket types in order to gather relevant information. For instance, a virtual attendee wouldn’t need to answer questions about diet preferences or discussion groups that were only taking place in person.
When purchasing their tickets attendees also had the opportunity to select an add-on for their order — in this case, sign-ups for an event cocktail hour. The organizers also created over 40 different discount codes for various purposes and could set how much the discount was for and how many times a code could be used.
- Connecting attendee information to event check-in
With attendee information already conveniently synced to the platform, managing check-in was especially simple. The check-in list was automatically pulled from the attendee list and staff could easily filter to only in-person attendees.
From there, staff checked in attendees by searching their names on their devices or by scanning attendee QR codes, which were found on their name badges or their profile on the Whova app. Attendees were checked in for each day of the event, and organizers can also run check-in for a specific session. In addition to tracking in-person attendance through check-in, they could also track virtual attendance by downloading an attendee activity spreadsheet for each session.
By scanning QR codes on attendees’ name badges, staff could check in attendees instantly right through their phones
- Attracting sponsors with multiple tiered benefits
In order to draw in sponsors, the organizers needed to prove that they would have plenty of opportunities for visibility and direct interaction with attendees. By utilizing the Sponsor Center on the Whova app, it was both easy and effective to give sponsors a meaningful presence in the event.
In addition to having their company name and logo displayed on virtual banners throughout the app, sponsors were also featured in customizable, interactive digital booths, where they upload a company video, pictures, documents, a description, and even host live streams to speak directly with attendees. Organizers could even tier visibility by arranging sponsors in different tiers, and controlling where their name and logo would appear throughout both the web and mobile app.
Setting up sponsors was really seamless and nice.Jacquelyn DiMura
- Easily promoting the event with an auto-generated website
The organizers could also promote their event through an easily shareable website, automatically generated directly from the information put into Whova. Organizers could choose between multiple professionally designed templates and further customize the page with their event branding and colors.
The organizers could immediately generate a customizable website branded to their event
They also generated separate webpages to display the agenda, sponsors, and speakers, and embedded them to the website. All the webpages were directly integrated with Whova, meaning that if a session or speaker information was changed through the platform, it would automatically be reflected on the website, without the organizer having to make any manual updates.
Someone with absolutely no coding experience could easily set up their event with Whova.Jacquelyn DiMura