The Background: TribalHub 

TribalHub is a platform for technology professionals from Native American tribes to connect professionally and grow. With over 20 years of experience, the organization has helped tech vendors in various industries, including government, casinos, enterprises, and healthcare to network and find business solutions. For this purpose, they organize conferences, publish a magazine, and share educational resources with their network.

The annual TribalHub virtual conference, TribalNet is one of TribalHub’s flagship events. It was launched in 1999, it’s a three-day conference attended by technology professionals and vendors. The aim is to create collaboration between tribes.

In 2020, however, the fate of TribalNet was left hanging in the air as COVID-19 made it impossible for organizations to host on-ground events.

The Problem: Losing Engagement in a Virtual Setup

All players in TribalHub’s industry were trying to strategize ways to sustain their annual events. But this was simply not possible in the traditional way. The only solution was to go virtual. 

But there were too many variables that could go wrong with this route. How would attendees feel about online networking? What would the speaker sessions look like? And would TribalNet’s sponsors still invest in a virtual conference that might not provide the same returns as an in-person event? 

Shannon Bouschor, Director of Operations at TribalHub, knew they needed a dynamic virtual event platform that could benefit all of its stakeholders. TribalHub wanted a platform that could connect all of its tribes together, help sponsors collect leads, and offer an experience as close to in-person as possible. 

The Solution: vFairs Brings TribalNet to Life, Virtually

Shannon began her search for the technology that could help TribalHub weather the storm. 

After several demos, she chose vFairs for its realistic feel, easy usability, and options for customizations. The price point was also ideal for the company! To top it off, it was a legacy system she knew she could count on. 

Next, TribalHub got down to putting together an event that could get people excited.

1. Interactive learning with live sessions

The sessions were a good place to start as they were the easiest to move to vFairs. All of TribalNet’s sessions were live, with some panels and others being webinars. These featured thought leaders and industry experts from the technology industry working in and with tribal organizations and enterprises.

an image of tribalnet's speaker sessions

The online sessions went seamlessly and were well-received by the attendees. All the sessions featured two-way communication between the speakers and the audience. This made both parties feel more invested in the exercise as they enjoyed the live interactions. 

In addition to this, vFairs manned the backend so any technical issues were resolved immediately. This helped the presenters and hosts feel more prepared and confident. 

2. Several marketing opportunities for sponsors

The second challenge for TribalNet was to give their sponsors the exposure they were about to invest in.

an image of tribalnet's trade show floor

For this reason, TribalNet deployed the vFairs trade show floor to feature their sponsors. The company also published a trade show layout on the event page to help attendees easily find their way and meet company representatives. The booths ran side-by-side to emulate how people visit booths at on-ground events. 

“[The] trade show experience was hard to beat compared to every other tool I’ve looked at. The platform captured virtually what it’s like to be at the booth physically and really stood out not just for us but for our attendees as well.”
– Shannon Bouschor 

In addition to this, TribalNet also used the scavenger hunt to attach points with visiting certain booths. They assigned single points for their regular exhibitors and double points for their sponsors. The layout also helped attendees participate in the scavenger hunt more easily. And then, of course, there were exciting prizes up for grabs at the end of the event. 

And they did all this quite successfully. The exposure they were able to offer was different from what any other player in their industry was offering. As a result, tech giants such as Dell, Microsoft, and VMWare and several other SMEs came onboard. 

In conclusion, TribalNet was able to land 60 sponsors, exceeding their goal of 40, to deliver a profitable event. The most important thing was that they didn’t have to cancel and did not miss the opportunity to provide value to their industry in a time where everyone needed to remain connected. The only way to do that was with a virtual event, and vFairs made that possible. 

Conclusion

“[TribalNet] was one of the only events in 2020 that was even able to happen in our industry. We were able to successfully put together a full agenda AND provide a platform for our attendees to engage with each other and find new products and solutions from vendors”.
– Shannon Bouschor

The feedback from the event was amazing. A lot of the attendees appreciated not having to travel for the conference and being able to connect with people from the comfort of their homes. Even the sponsors were content with the exposure they received and were glad to have collaborated with TribalHub.

In conclusion, Shannon felt that vFairs really saved their event and they “couldn’t have done it any other way”.

 

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