Covid-19 has changed the way associations engage with their members and the industry as a whole. To adapt to this new climate, associations are using virtual conference platforms, coordinating speakers, breakout sessions, registrants, cancellations and transfers, and providing virtual access to content to contribute to an overall solution that keeps the entire association industry, not only afloat, but thriving. But to make the conference platform efficient, they must be integrated to your association management system (AMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) system.  The Gravitate team has been working recently with the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) to create an integration between NetForum and their selected virtual conference vendor, Freeman, to provide the technical foundation to support their major AFP 2020 Virtual Experience event.

              This integration allows registration information collected about the virtual event in NetForum to be pushed directly to the Freeman platform for conducting the event.  The integration greatly reduces the manual setup necessary in Freeman and helps facilitate the registration and cancellation process for participants. The integration allows AFP staff to use data in Freeman for on-going marketing communications about the virtual events, as well as providing real-time appropriate access to customers who login to participate in the event.

              Included as part of the implementation is a fully automated data transfer, regardless of the type of activity (transactions, speaker engagement, new customer records, registration cancellations and transfers, etc.).  As desired, confirmation emails can be sent from either platform individually, or from both at the same time. The integration also allows registrants to access content in Freeman based on the sessions they signed up for and based on user permissions set in NetForum. The Gravitate team also set up gating on the Freeman platform side to control who has access to specific content based on customer attributes and other registration data, such as registration types or workshop flags.

              All of this sounds great, but how does it work? The integration uses Gravitate’s Cyclone publishing engine to constantly poll changes to AFP’s NetForum platform related to event registrations, speakers, session setup and customer records, and then sends the changes to the Freeman Application Programming Interface (API) to be updated. Every thirty seconds, Cyclone runs a sophisticated query to look for changes and then pushes that data into a holding queue. A separate Windows Service process polls the queue to look for data to send to the Freeman API endpoints. The queue allows for error handling and tracking on records that are rejected by the Freeman API and allows them to be pushed again at a later time. These almost real-time changes include creating new records, updating existing records, and deleting unneeded or cancelled records. The queries that are created look for any type of event related data that needs to be sent to Freeman and can be modified as needed to adjust for changes to the AFP virtual events business model.  The data is passed through to Freeman based on unique keys on each of the records to determine the proper CRUD operation for that change.

              This Gravitate designed NetForum/Freeman integration has helped AFP successfully transition from an in-person event to a virtual event to provide value to the registrants, the members, and AFP. Associations can and should be confidently moving forward in this new world, innovating and improving the way they do business. Gravitate’s NetForum/Freeman integration helped AFP do just this.

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