Persuading a sceptic audience for an online conference

Concrete Institute of Australia’s National Biennial Virtual Conference 2021

Fast facts

Event: Concrete Institute of Australia’s National Biennial Virtual Conference 2021

Dates: 5-8 September 2021

Format: Virtual

Challenges

Scepticism was high throughout the concreting industry when the decision was made to take the Concrete Institute of Australia’s National Biennial Conference online in 2021 for the first ever time. For a profession that places great weight on meeting in person, shaking one another’s hands and networking over afternoon drinks, it would take meaningful education to convince sponsors, exhibitors and delegates to participate.

Solutions

To help demonstrate the simplicity and capability of the online platform, a number of demonstration tools were produced specifically for the conference, including;

  • An introductory video to present the platform and showcase the functionalities
  • A ‘How to set up your booth’ video and a ‘How to get the most out of your virtual sponsorship’ video for sponsors and exhibitors
  • An attendee video to demonstrate the experience as a delegate and showcase what to expect and how to navigate the platform
  • A downloadable PDF containing instructions on the platform

Sponsors’ concerns were further eased by having 1:1 demonstrations where they could ask questions directly. Sponsor and exhibitor packages were also completely redesigned to suit the new format with several innovative packages launched, including;

  • A coffee sponsor package, where tea and coffee supplies were mailed to the first 200 registrants to see them through the 4-day conference.
  • An Uber Eats package, where the first 100 delegates to email the Sponsor would receive a $25 Uber Eats voucher.

Engagement between delegates and sponsors/exhibitors throughout the event was equally important. To assist this, attendees were persuaded to engage with sponsors through a virtual passport competition, with valuable prizes as an incentive and a reminder made at the start of every session and welcome address.

Outcomes

The various efforts to educate and bring on board sponsors and exhibitors proved overwhelmingly successful. Not only were sponsor and exhibitor targets met but these stakeholders received significant virtual traffic, allowing them to make meaningful connections and realise their value in attending.

  • Combined sponsorship and exhibition target reached and even exceeded by 1.2%
  • An average of nearly 32 sessions attended per delegate
  • An average of 409 booth visits per exhibitor
  • 9,202 delegate interactions with sponsors were recorded
  • An average of 15 private chats per delegate
  • An average of 3 resources downloaded per delegate

 

CIA 2021 outcomes

      quote Our industry is very hands-on, so the thought of a virtual conference was very foreign to the majority, including our sponsors. Through a very guided approach by our DCO Arinex, we were able to educate all stakeholders in the value of using a virtual platform and it not being just “another zoom call”. With over 400 booth visits per exhibitor and an average of 32 sessions attended per delegate the data insights have been invaluable to increasing value for all attendees and maximising return on investment.”

       

      David Millar, CEO, Concrete Institute of Australia