Home Education & Learning How to Engage and Network at Conferences: Interview with the CEO of Whova Event App

How to Engage and Network at Conferences: Interview with the CEO of Whova Event App

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Last 6th September I was fortunate enough to interview Soyeon Park of Whova. I first learned about this app when I have presented a paper at the 11th Biennial Conference of Asian Association of Social Psychology and PAP 52nd Annual Convention last year. I have not particularly paid attention to the app but this interview with Soyeon has unpacked to me some insights on how useful this app is. 

Maybe we could start by telling me about Whova and your role at the company

About ten years ago, I was previously a researcher at University of California, San Diego when I started working with my then professor Yuanyuan Zhou (She is the CEO of Whova), when our team envisioned a way of making connections and networking during conferences or events a lot easier. The company started in 2013 and I am one of the co-founders of Whova. I love my role which also involves looking after the marketing aspect of the company.

I am not very good with networking myself so I am really keen to help geeks connect with other geeks in a geeky way. As you could probably tell, making connections involves a lot of research: looking up the person on Google, checking the LinkedIn profiles, and so on. We wanted to revolutionise this process and that is how the Whova story began!

What does Whova offer to event organisers?

The main thing that we have to offer is to provide attendees with a seamless networking experience. For instance, Whova helps attendees plan ahead whom to meet with and what to talk about through a system of comprehensive attendee profiles, and provides various networking options to attendees, such as business card exchange, in-app messaging, and discovering others who share their same professional background, and ultimately help them build lasting connections.

It sounds like a really interesting and useful app, now I am just wondering if Whova is free?

Whova is free to download and use from the App Store or Google Play. However, the fees for our services are shouldered by the event organisers. Our prices depend on the size of the event and any service options that event organisers wish to include. But this is free for the attendees. 

What makes you different to other event apps?

We are not just here to make money. We would like to offer an all-in-one service to organisers and we also want attendees to have an excellent networking experience. Thousands of event attendees have used our app in many events.

If you are an organiser, once you sign up for one of our packages, your events will be listed with many others. Our app users are able to browse all the events listed in the app, and find and request to join your event if they are interested. Meanwhile, Whova occasionally promotes the current event on the website and blog and gets people excited about attending. And since attendees are able to do more networking before and after the event in the Whova app, organisers can expect more referral traffic and interests for their upcoming events.

What is your ultimate goal with  Whova?

We are not a high-end event app, nor are we a low-end event app, so this puts us into a much better position to attract more attendees. And of course our success lies with the number of attendees. That being said, I would say that our ultimate aim is to contribute to an exceptional networking experience among our attendees and the success of the event by the organisers. 

Final thoughts

Whova is not just for more experienced researchers, we also cater to early-career researchers and even to 16–19-year-olds who are attending events. Whova can certainly help students who are preparing to go to universities by giving them a chance to experience networking with other attendees who share the same academic interests.

Whova believes that member engagement is an essential element for the success of any event, so this event app will definitely be useful to Psychreg readers.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.

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