ARNOLD, Mo. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact nearly every business, Disaster Recovery Journal held its first virtual event Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2020.
Instead of gathering in sunny Phoenix, Ariz., as planned, DRJ Fall 2020: A Virtual Experience was four days of activity for 1,000 eager attendees from around the globe.
“I cannot express in words how pleased I am with the success of our inaugural virtual event,” said DRJ President Bob Arnold. “The hard work, creativeness, and dedication of the DRJ team was impressive as we showed great adaptability and teamwork as we navigated this new space. It truly showed how resilient our own organization is in a time of crisis.”
DRJ Fall 2020: A Virtual Experience featured 62 sessions, 102 speakers, 40 exhibitors, and unlimited networking opportunities. Attendees took full advantage of the online platform during the four-day event, with:
- nearly 10,000 public conversations
- nearly 5,000 private messages sent
- hundreds of private meetings
- half-a-million page views.
“Although we love seeing our attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors in person, it was great to see many familiar faces on the virtual platform,” said Arnold. “One of the greatest attributes of DRJ events is the networking. In reviewing the number of interactions, discussions, chats, and virtual conversations, I would say that was still the case at the virtual event.”
Gayle Hedgecock, a business continuity planner in London, raved about the four-day event.
“The conference was great,” said Hedgecock. “I attended in person about five years ago and found this virtual conference to be just as engaging. The quality of the presenters is excellent, engaging, and delivered with enthusiasm.
“I absolutely love the fact that I can go into the website and watch the recordings to be able to gain all the knowledge and information of those sessions I missed.
“By having a virtual option, it gives people from other countries the ability to be part of these conferences. I will certainly be asking for funding for any future conferences, hopefully in person.”
Michael Schroeder, another attendee, plans on taking full advantage of the DRJ Fall 2020 platform availability for another six months.
“I was able to attend most time slots and went back and viewed the ones I couldn’t make live,” said Michael Schroeder. “It was really an excellent experience and DRJ did a fantastic job of being timely, even with all of the challenges you must have faced.”
Arnold extended his gratefulness to all of the various speakers, panelists, sponsors, and exhibitors who worked hard to ensure DRJ Fall 2020 was a success.
One vendor stated, “I think Bob and team have done the best job of the five virtual conferences we have attended this year, including GSX.”
Without a physical exhibit hall to walk, many vendors used the platform’s discussion forums and live exhibit hall video chats to engage attendees. Aside from the virtual product demonstrations and one-on-one video meetings, dozens of exhibitors gave away gift cards and held prize drawings.
The annual DRJ exhibit hall raffle morphed into an online game at DRJ Fall 2020. Attendees were awarded points for attending sessions, interacting with other attendees, and visiting exhibitor booths. The top-seven people on the leaderboard were awarded prizes each day. DRJ gave out $6,000 worth of innovative, technology items after the first three days of the conference.
Attendees who fill out a conference evaluation by Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, are eligible to win one of three free passes to a future DRJ conference. The attendance prize drawing will be held this Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.
With DRJ Fall 2020 in the books, DRJ Director of Events Lesley Vinyard is looking to confirm speakers for DRJ Spring 2021: A New Era of Resiliency. She has issued a call for papers for the event. Potential speakers have until Nov. 2 to submit an abstract.
DRJ Spring 2020 will be held March 28-31. Plans are being made to hold an in-person conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla. However, with the current pandemic, state and national laws may prohibit an in-person event. Please be advised the event may be held virtually or both in-person and virtual.
To attend DRJ Spring 2021, visit https://www.drj.com/spring2021/.