The Association of Anaesthetists (AOA) represents an international membership base of over 10,000 medical professionals.
When the usual calendar of in-person events was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the AOA team was keen to trial a virtual format for their flagship annual conference, the Winter Scientific Meeting (WSM).
Supporting the AOA to successfully deliver its first virtual conference, our brief was to:
- Maximise the reach of the event.
- Achieve high levels of delegate engagement.
- Attract a diverse range of sponsors and exhibitors.
Following a rigorous tender process, Live Group was selected to become a trusted partner to the Association of Anaesthetists (AOA).
To help the association successfully deliver its first virtual conference, we worked in partnership with the Board of Directors, the Education Committee and the in-house events team. We advised on the best ways to deliver the Winter Scientific Meeting (WSM), taking an approach which enabled us to complement the strengths of the AOA team, whilst also supporting any knowledge gaps by sharing our expertise.
To maximise the reach of the event, our first task was to optimise its appeal. Taking into account the AOA’s objectives and target audience, we mapped out the perfect delegate experience and shaped the event’s structure around a thought-provoking agenda.
The two-day Winter Scientific Meeting featured a CPD-accredited, first-class scientific programme which shared the latest news, learnings and developments in the anaesthetist space.
After a year as challenging as 2020, in addition to the clinical content, the conference was also an opportunity to boost morale. Woven into the agenda were opportunities for delegates to feel supported and part of the AOA community by connecting with peers, networking digitally, recognising achievements and celebrating successes.
Conscious of the pressures on the medical community at the time, the AOA team were uncertain their members would have time to attend and/or speak at the conference.
To promote the event to the international anaesthetist community, a compelling communications strategy was vital. We developed a pre-event engagement plan, along with key messaging to be conveyed during and after the conference using AOA member communications and social media.
To make the event accessible to a global network of doctors, we focused on designing, building and launching a virtual event platform as soon as possible.
Pre-event, the bespoke platform:
- Enabled delegates to begin their WSM journey ahead six weeks ahead of the event date.
- Facilitated delegate registration.
- Integrated with the AOA’s payment system to synchronise payment details with delegate data.
- Became a communications channel, sharing information and seeding topics of conversation.
- Enabled delegates to submit and view a wide range of e-posters.
During the conference, the live stream was delivered via the platform and a Continued Professional Development (CPD) integration enabled delegates to log their learning. Interactivity was encouraged with chat room functionality, along with Q&As and polls/voting during speaker sessions.
To ensure the planning of AOA’s future events could build on the success of this conference, we tracked digital delegate behaviour and compiled a post-event report with recommendations.
The platform remained online for six months post-event, allowing delegates to access the on-demand Content Library and watch recordings of the keynotes and discussions.
The conference combined pre-recorded sessions with live elements. To achieve high levels of delegate engagement, a top priority was the quality of the speaker sessions.
We adapted content for a virtual format and worked with individual speakers to offer training on presenting virtually, to provide practice sessions and to run pre-event remote technical checks. As an event delivered by doctors for doctors, during the middle of a global pandemic, it was necessary for the Live Group team to work around the busy schedules of the speakers involved.
For the AOA to retain an essential revenue stream, it was important to attract a diverse range of sponsors and exhibitors:
- To cater for different budgets, we worked with the association’s Chief Operating Officer to develop three levels of sponsorship.
- To incentivise premium packages, sponsors were given the option to be included in the event platform launch several weeks prior to the event.
- To support success with prospective sponsors, we jointly hosted several sales calls.
During the event, sponsors were housed in a virtual exhibitor area and we gave guidance on the best ways to appeal to delegates and drive traffic to their sites:
- A one-to-one chat function facilitated communication between delegates and sponsors, with virtual meeting spaces for follow-up discussions.
- To maximise delegate engagement with the sponsors, we introduced an element of gamification – a digital scavenger hunt with the promise of a prize!
Post-event, we provided sponsors with data highlighting delegates who had engaged with them and/or their content, with recommendations for GDPR-compliant lead generation strategies.
The event grew from an anticipated 500 delegates to 5000.
Delegates joined the WSM from 35 different countries.
Over 600 delegates submitted an e-poster.
Exhibitors could see the value in the virtual world.
It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Live Group. Your guidance, support and understanding has been invaluable.Zack Puttock, Educational Events Manager, Association of Anaesthetists