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It was shortly after 9/11 when the seeds for the first full-blown virtual convention started to germinate. Many were predicting that conventional convention and conference attendance worldwide would be down dramatically. They also predicted that there would be severe erosion resulting from individuals and groups being able to communicate using the many rapidly evolving tools available on the Internet. We were sure that if this were the case the real estate industry would be no exception.

If the traditional trade convention as we knew it would cease to grow -and perhaps shrink, how then would the approximately five to ten percent of the members of trade organizations who traditionally attend their organization's events be able to network, gain knowledge, see the latest products --- and have fun? Even more important, given the proven power of the Internet to speed and facilitate communication, was there a way to open up the process to a significantly higher percentage of the membership?

The seed started to grow and in April 2002 the Real Estate CyberSpace Society produced and presented history's first full blow virtual convention -- the National Real Estate On-line Convention and Exposition. The event proved to be a smashing (or as one wag put it--"a crashing") success! 20,783 real estate professionals attended from 36 Countries! They made 93,738 Booth Visits and contacted exhibitors for more information 33,478 times. They listened to 32 of the industries top speakers and leaders, received speakers' handouts and stopped by 184 booths to check out the latest technology and real estate services. The industry press noted that this was quite an accomplishment for the relatively, new upstart six year old, four thousand member organization.

Reminiscent of the moment over a million people tried to access and crashed the Victoria Secret on-line fashion show in 2001, we had our glitches too! On Thursday, the Convention opening day, crashed briefly from the overwhelming crush of thousands of attendees all trying to get into the live Jim Young Keynote talk at 1:00PM! Even our optimistic staff could not have predicted such a crowd! To alleviate this situation we restructured the technology for Michael Russer's keynote talk on Saturday and everything went without a hitch! Attendees were even able to see and hear the Young talk two hours later and for the duration of the convention through the miracle of archiving.

We introduced a lot of folks to both live and archived sight and sound on the Internet. The biggest complaint we had was about "no sound" or "no visuals" and that came mostly from those who were either not familiar with MS Windows Media Player or Real Player Audio. Other than that, an occasional slow down and one additional brief crash because of the crowds, most attendees were pleased and showed it with their almost embarrassingly complimentary comments.


The National On-Line Convention & Exposition is unlike any regular Convention or Expo you have ever attended! Because it is held completely on the Internet attendees can have what they want when they want it--any time of day - any place they want to be -- even in their fuzzy slippers!

Even though you don't need to book a flight or make hotel reservations, don't expect any compromise on the convention experience. Real estate professionals attend conventions to learn from experts, see the latest products and services, network and have fun. The virtual convention is no exception.


The On-Line Convention format allows attendees to experience the Convention on their schedule with a minimum of interruption to their regular activities. All they need to do is save some time during the Convention dates to enjoy and benefit from the new convention experience!

As produced, each of the convention speakers is available to attendees at any time 24 hours a day during the day they are scheduled. Attendees can also visit the Booths and go for the many door prizes at their convenience!


One of the popular ingredients of the On-line Convention is the door prizes the exhibitors have up for grabs just for stopping by their booths. (They even have fishbowls for collecting business cards on their front booth table!) Attendees "go home" (or is that "stay at home") with thousands of dollars in prizes when the On-Line Convention is over! Now that's worth getting out of bed for! (But then again you really don't even have to get out of bed! :-). On top of that, all door prizes are indexed at the Expo so you can be at any drawing you choose in an instant!


The technical requirements for enjoying the convention are minimal. This high tech event is geared for the easiest enjoyment -- even with low-tech equipment! Even If you don't want to fool around with speakers or sound software, you can still enjoy the entire expo and sneak into the back of the rooms during the speaker sessions and grab the handout! We know that a lot of attendees have done this at "Conventional Conventions"

Obviously you will need an Internet connection. Although a high-speed connection would make participation a bit more maneuverable, all you really need is a regular telephone modem connection. Your usual browsing software (Internet Explorer or Netscape, for example) will work fine. It probably would be a good idea to download the latest upgrades to your browser software prior to the convention.

All that is needed to listen to the speakers are a set of computer speakers. If you don't have speakers now, you can buy a set of speakers at any Radio Shack or similar store for under $10. Finally to listen to the speakers you will need the Real Audio/and or Windows Media Player software on your computer. Most folks already have this software on their computers as it is normally automatically installed with the browser software. If it is not already there it can be downloaded free at the convention.

That's it! You are now ready to get the most from your convention experience!


Registered attendees receive regular issues of "On-Line Convention News" by e-mail. Late registrants can review the archives of these newsletters, which contain a plethora of information to help maximize their Convention experience.


One of the big reasons we could offer free registration for the On-Line Convention was because of the generosity of the Sponsors who joined in backing, promoting and delivering the event.


The Real Estate CyberSpace Society agreed that attendance at 3 Sessions of the Convention would fulfill all the classroom requirements for the awarding of the Real Estate CyberSpace Society's Real Estate CyberSpace Specialist (RECS) professional designation. There is no cost for the RECS designation and the only other requirement is membership in the Society and e-mail certification of attendance. Attendees applied for Society Membership at:


In late 2002 the Society announced that it would begin delivering its patent pending On-Line Convention/Exposition process to real estate associations and organizations wishing to extend the reach of their conventional conventions and events. Now associations and organizations can add this type of excitement and member value completely customized for their events at virtually no cost.



The Turnkey Virtual Convention Program (TVCP) resulted from the many calls and e-mails from Associations and Companies around the world asking how they can add a similar virtual event incorporating the same exciting features branded and customized for their Organization. Now, Associations can power up their regularly scheduled events with this virtual add-on! By tapping the power of the Internet they can reach out to their members using the powerful patent pending On-Line Convention program features developed by the Society.


The Society delivers a customized turnkey Association On-Line Convention and Exposition program as an add-on to any existing educational conference or convention. Associations set up their event prior to and after the regularly scheduled live event or even as a stand-alone event. The Association On-Line Expo, featuring their exhibitors and sponsors, remains active for 90 days after the regular event is over. This added exposure provides an existing program with added value for both attendees and exhibitors.


The Association turnkey On-Line Convention includes the Association On-Line National Speaker Program plus the Association On-Line Exposition.


Using the turnkey program associations can increase value and traffic to their On-Line Conventions by adding up to three national speakers from the Society's lineup of nationally recognized speakers such as Michael Russer (Mr. Internet), Stephen Canale, Matthew Ferrara, Allen Hainge, Dave Beson, Pat Zaby, Saul Klein, Roald Marth and many more adding an educational component to the Association On-Line Event. Each speaker comes complete with a 28-minute presentation and a handout that attendees can print out on the spot.


The Association On-Line Convention provides powerful additional exposure and value for the organizations exhibitors and sponsors, as they will benefit from the extended exposure to attendees plus the members who were unable to attend the regularly scheduled event.

The Exposition component for the Association On-Line Convention has full functionality. The Exposition booths are equipped with door prize fishbowls, powerful lead generating capacity and links to full information on the vendors' products or services. Exposition indexing is by company name, product or service category (including three specific categories), floor location, and door prize list.

Exhibitors only need to fill out a simple application form on-line to set up their booth. Associations are free to add the On-Line Booth fee or Sponsor fees on to the existing fee structure or build it into the basic booth cost. Exhibitors are able to edit their booths anytime while the On-Line Convention is active.


After the Convention adjourned we reviewed some interesting statistics: 11% of the attendees purchased a product or service at the expo. 31% intend to purchase a product or service they saw there and 75% are going to look into buying a product or service they saw at the convention. 37% of the attendees indicated they are going to tell a friend about a product or service they found at the convention.

Attendee surveys reflected a very high degree of satisfaction with a 93% satisfaction level (67% either extremely satisfied or very satisfied with the On-Line Convention overall). The remaining 7% were probably directly affected with the few glitches you might expect with any first of a kind event of these proportions.

Judy McCutchin, a certified residential specialist with RE/MAX in Dallas, marvels at the concept. Her note to us was one of hundreds received shortly after the On-Line Convention adjourned and is rather typical of agent/broker attendee comments: "What a stroke of brilliance to dream up a totally online convention complete with the best speakers in the industry and even online 'booths,' where from the comfort of your own home, you can check out the latest products available and listen and learn!" Judy says. "The convention was such a smashing success that the prediction is that there will be over sixty thousand attendees at the April 2003 convention. Now that's a real wow!"

Reactions like that convinced the Society to make the On-Line Convention an annual event and we immediately scheduled the second annul event on April 24-28, 2003. At this writing we expect fifty to sixty thousand attendees at the 2003 Virtual Convention where the only thing missing from the virtual convention will be out of pocket costs for airfare, hotel bills, lost shoe leather, aching muscles, travel hassle and registration fees - and time away from home!


Several years ago when I Chaired the Strategic Planning Committee of the 800,000 member National Association of Realtors, it became obvious that an industry historically known for its conservatism was going to need to adjust to new ways of doing business-to think outside the traditional box. We at the Real Estate CyberSpace Society are particularly pleased now to present Associations with a completely new way to increase non- dues income and simultaneously add an exciting and highly productive new member service.

We are proud to be leading the way with this clearly outside the box new way of doing business-a new way for Associations to bring their members the advantages of networking with associates, learning and having fun - at far less cost and with more convenience than ever before!

Editors Note: the Real Estate CyberSpace Society, with membership in 28 countries, provides its 4,000+ members in more than 100 Chapters with tools and services for maximizing their real estate professionalism and effectiveness, plus a networking connection for professionals from all real estate specialties. Two of the Society's major assets are the National Real Estate Convention and Exposition discussed here and the Society's popular Real Estate CyberSpace Radio. The Society can be reached at 617-523-4441 by E-mail at and on the Web at Information regarding the Association Virtual Convention Program can be obtained by contacting Convention Director, Angela Portosa: or directly at 508-481-1905.