Virtual Events Could be Wave of Future | Thomas Nelson Community College

Virtual Events Could be Wave of Future

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05/28/2020 - 10:49am
May 1, 2020
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Caption: Laila (4) and Liana (2) enjoy the Family Fun Day video for ages 2-7, safely at home.


No one knows what will be the “new normal” for events once the coronavirus pandemic is under control. However, a review of Thomas Nelson’s “Family Fun Day” and “Global View,” both of which went from in-person to online, might provide a glimpse into the future.

Last month’s “Family Fun Day” reached more people than it had in its previous two in-person attempts.

“I was extremely thrilled on how popular ‘Family Fun Day’ was,” said Alicia Riley, the College’s Special Events coordinator. “Within the weekend that it aired, we hit 100 viewers for age group 2-7, and age group 18 years and older.”

By the last day of April, views on the videos were 110 for ages 2-7, 69 for ages 8-12, 66 for ages 13-17, and 133 for ages 18 and older. But with the average American household being about 2.5 people, the total number of viewers likely is much more.

“We definitely, just taking those numbers, have increased more visibility to ‘Family Fun Day’,” Riley said.

The online version consisted of four videos, each aimed at a different age group: 2-7, 8-12, 13-17, and 18 and older. The videos ranged from 13 to 30 minutes. Riley cited two big reasons for the increased numbers.

“Hosting this online gives people, No. 1, the opportunity to watch it when they want to watch it, which is great,” she said. “No. 2 is because it’s for all ages.”

She said she received numerous photos and videos from Thomas Nelson employees showing their kids sitting in front of a computer watching the videos.

“It was great to receive that type of feedback,” Riley said. “It’s something to consider even for the future, to keep those shows going.”

That increased interest could lead to more people attending an on-campus “Family Fun Day” next year. What originated as an event for Thomas Nelson employees and their families reached far beyond that this year because it was available on YouTube.

“I like the fact that anyone can access it. We’re just not limiting it to those who go to Thomas Nelson,” Riley said. “In the future, what I would like to do is show off our campus more, to really highlight our programs more and these conferences, if they are going to go online.”

As for “The Global View,” it showed these seminars and conferences don’t have to be limited to one-day events.

“(One) aspect that I love about it is this is a conference that’s not a here-and-now,” Riley said. “This is a conference that will live with us for the next month, so you have time to view it.”

An online wrap party is scheduled for mid-May, and the videos will remain online until May 20. There were eight video interviews, ranging from 30-40 minutes each.

The event was led by Marilen Crump, a local entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. The other participants were Kinja Dixon (author, speaker, life coach), Katrina Gay (healthcare worker and teacher), Rob Ball (founder of “Tap the Flow”), Josh Roth (entrepreneur and VCU grad), David Morin (entrepreneur, speaker, model, personal trainer who used to live in Hampton Roads), and Rosetta Qadhi (entrepreneur with ties to U.Va.-Wise and businesses in Canada and the Caribbean). In addition, there was an introduction by a Thomas Nelson student.

The concept was to show how today’s world truly is global, and that point was driven home as those interviewed phoned in for their online conversations from Canada, South Florida and California, among other places.

Even with that reach, Riley said it’s always nice working with and highlighting local entrepreneurs.

The online events are just getting started for Thomas Nelson. Of course, there’s virtual commencement May 14, but Riley and her production team also are putting the finishing touches on videos to help students handle the stress of final exams. There are nine videos, two of which are on deep meditation and about 10 minutes each. The others videos range from 3-5 minutes.

She’s also hoping to have online seminars on how to plan a summer staycation, how to do home retreats, a “Stop the Boredom” event, and a session expanding on the gardening tips that were part of the “Family Fun Day.”

These virtual events, which offer benefits traditional conferences and seminars can’t, could become the new reality at Thomas Nelson. It’s all about adapting and looking at things from a different perspective. For that, Riley credits the Thomas Nelson administration.

“Everybody could have said, ‘Alicia, events need to stop.’ My thing is we don’t need to stop. We need to find a new way,” she said.