In these uncertain times, being able to easily and quickly communicate with attendees can make or break an event.
The value of having the right technological tools and experienced staff can be crucial to the success of the event. It helps event organisers provide smooth and instant communication with the attendees. Any changes to the agenda can be distributed almost instantly and you can stay in touch with all the participants.
11 – 14 March 2020
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)
Entegy Partner, Eventium together with the Conference Organiser, ICMS Australasia organised a Hand Surgery and the Digital Revolution congress. The congress was successful despite being interrupted by global events disrupting worldwide travel.
The show must go on:
Siobhan Jensen, Event Manager for ICMS Australasia explained how to deliver a successful event and use technology to keep your attendees informed during a time of emergency.
Planning for a crisis with the help of technology solutions
Siobhan says: “It is important for them to keep updated on the news and relevant platforms to be aware of any potential crisis that may be occurring, and to get an understanding on how any crisis is being managed by various bodies worldwide.
In the case of a crisis, we ensure we have regular discussions with the client to make any ‘tough’ decisions as early as possible.
Making added allowances where needed is also very important, such as additional security for a protest, and in the case of this virus providing reminders of good hygiene practices and hand sanitizer located throughout the venue.”
Hoping for the best but planning for the worst
As explained by Siobhan, the contingency plan was put in place together with Eventium “We monitored the relevant sites and announcements very carefully, ensuring we were following any procedures put in place by the Victorian/Australian Government. In the final week leading into the Congress, we decided to proceed based on the high percentage of delegates/speakers still attending.
Additionally, the vast majority of attendees registered for the Congress were Australian or New Zealand based, and as the virus had minimal occurrence in both countries, and with the Grand Prix continuing at the time, we felt it fine to proceed.
We had also put a contingency in place to collect pre-recorded presentations from speakers who were unable to attend, which assisted in keeping the program on track as much as possible, and let the speakers who were unable to attend still get to present their research and be involved in the Congress.
Due to our Congress attendees being medical personnel, we found that even though the borders were still open and there were no restrictions for delegates to come to Australia, their individual organisations/hospitals put a ban on any unnecessary leave, which included them attending any conferences. We found that the majority of our dropouts were due to this policy.
Due to this, we did need to compress our program, and shorten the Program and Congress timings for the final day, as we would have been left with ‘blank’ speaker spaces.”
Alternative solutions – going digital
One of the main issues that the event organisers had to deal with, was the drop in the number of delegates.
“We did have a drop in attendance specifically from our Asian delegates due to it being an “Asian-Pacific” Congress this did mean there was a higher dropout than anticipated.
We did have a few requests for live streaming, however chose not to proceed with this option, as due to the many different time zones that our speakers were dialling in from, and the tight program, it would not have been a feasible option.
To try and include the speakers who were unable to attend as much as possible, we set up a digital platform for speakers to load pre-recorded talks, which we played at the Congress in replacement of their presentation. We are currently putting a procedure in place to distribute all PowerPoints, videos and live recordings post-Congress to registered delegates.”
Keeping your attendees engaged and informed
Communicating important updates as they unfolded was the deciding factor in the success of this event, Siobhan said that instantaneous communication played a vital role “As we had decided to proceed with the Congress, it was important we maintained consistent and positive messaging encouraging delegates that were still able to attend, to feel comfortable to join us and that appropriate measures would be taken for their safety.”
The right people for the job
Having experienced and capable support staff plays a decisive role in a time of crisis. “Eventium was key to assisting us in updating the app with the latest program. What would be seen as a standard two weeks’ worth of work was achieved in less than one day by their team. It was great to have such a strong and supportive team to fall back on and assist us during this time of crisis.” Siobhan said.