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From the Forest City: Virtual Events with Connect Dot Management

Welcome to From the Forest City – your source for exciting ideas, innovations, and expertise coming out of London, Canada.

In these videos brought to you by the LEDC, you’ll soon discover why companies are investing and growing in London, and how their talented teams and products are making an impact. You’ll hear from growing local businesses about how they're expanding into new markets, launching new products, making investments, and local industry experts on topics that are relevant to your business. Every now and then we will speak with experts outside of London who have valuable insights to share with local businesses.



Episode 1

We are speaking with Holly Doty, President & Senior Strategist at Connect Dot Management Inc., an event planning and management company here in London, Canada. With COVID-19 forcing many businesses to deliver virtual webinars, programming, events, and conferences, we talk to Holly about how the event industry has evolved and how her team has responded to the changes by launching a new virtual event space at their office.

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My name is Holly Doty, I own an event management company called Connect Dot Management. It's here in London Ontario, that's where our head office is, but we do run events across the country and we've been in business about 12 years and most of our focus is on corporate and not for profit clients, including government and education, including universities.

Lot of our clients are super interested in continuing on with their events. It's important to continue with key messaging to be able to get our relevant messages forward, and I think there's a good space for it.

Virtual events have actually been around for a really long time, but a lot of the software has been updated since the introduction of the pandemic, and a lot of them now have live streaming components, some main stage introductions, so we've decided to include a virtual studio into our space here at Connect Dot.

Actually, there are a lot of heightened benefits to be included in a virtual event. In a live event, certainly we have people who come, there's lots of hospitality, there's networking, we're never going to be able to replace that. Those are the key components of that but on a virtual event as far as it goes with recognition; with stakeholders, the world is our oyster, honestly, there is so much capacity to be able to do different branding, do different digital advertising, include weblink's, include key contacts, profile and outline our speakers, really provide integrated and active agendas, there's gamification that can be included, there's networking opportunities, I mean really, there are so many opportunities. A lot of this software has been around for a long time, but now people are really interested to see what it can do for them.

A lot of people are starting to become familiar with sort of day-to-day how to get their job done, so using things like Zoom or WebEx or Microsoft 365 and those are all great. But once you want to go to a main audience just like live events, I think what we want to do is figure out what's the uniqueness, what makes us different, what makes us stand out, and that's where we can go forward on the virtual side.

One of the key elements now that we have is the virtual studio, so bringing that live stage feel with all the bells and whistles to your event at a pretty affordable cost. Setting up and removing an audio-visual set-up as most people know, if they're running live events can be pretty costly. But now we've got that all set up here, and we essentially can lease it up for an affordable price.

Listen, I don't have a crystal ball, but I certainly do feel like virtual events are going to be around for a little while, maybe not forever, but likely 12, 24, maybe even 36 months. There's lots of elements to consider, and a lot of events have hundreds of people at them. I think there's always going to be a component of a virtual event. A lot of events may go hybrid, where people will have the opportunity to have a virtual component and a live component, but in the near future, we're likely going to be virtual for at least 6 to 12 months.

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