The Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) is the UK representative body for staff caring for medical patients in the acute hospital setting. A major component of the activity of the Society has been its twice yearly CPD-accredited meetings which feature renowned speakers from across the world and gather more than 500 medical professionals at a time.
Both events are managed by Eventage – a professional conference and event management organisation specialising in the health industry and delivering flagship events for government groups, the NHS and medical societies in the country.
Challenge: The society’s international autumn meeting – SAM Glasgow – was set to take place in Scotland at the end of September 2020. But with growing uncertainty around the Covid-19 situation, the event was postponed to November.
Eventage worked closely with the Scottish government to run the in-person meeting as a national ‘test event’ at the SEC (the country’s largest exhibition centre) where only 200 people would be able to attend. The meeting would also feature a virtual component that would allow remote delegates to attend and participate in sessions online.
Given the changing requirements, the events team decided it needed to invest in a virtual event platform that would not only help SAM meet its event objectives but would also work alongside the physical event and be simple enough for attendees to use.
Solution: After exploring different options in the market, Eventage decided to use Eventsforce’s virtual content delivery system – Eventsforce VCD. The solution was intuitive and easy to set up. It allowed the team to stream sessions – both live and on-demand. It would also support them with tools that make it easier for attendees to engage online.
Moreover, Eventage had been using Eventsforce technology to manage SAM event registrations, delegate payments, agendas and abstract submissions for several years. By adding VCD to the tech stack, the team was able to consolidate all its processes on one centralised event management platform. This not only saved time in data transfers but allowed them to create a more seamless attendee experience across the different systems.
“The integrated platform also helped us adapt quickly to changing government guidelines. We were all set to go but new restrictions around Covid-19 meant we had to cancel the in-person element of our hybrid event and move the whole thing online. Having a virtual event platform that was fully integrated with our registration and abstract systems meant we could do this with no issues in a very short time.”
– Christine Lawson, Managing Director at Eventage
Benefits: The two-day ‘SAM Glasgow Virtual’ event ended up gathering more than 1,000 remote attendees from across the globe – a 50% increase from previous years. More than 40% were also new attendees. The new virtual environment meant that SAM members who typically couldn’t attend the association’s in-person events were now able to participate for the first time.
Making the switch to digital also had an impact on SAM’s bottom line. With 95% of event revenue coming through delegate registration fees – it was important to adopt a new pricing scheme for the virtual event. The discounted fees however still meant SAM was able to make a surplus given the increase in registrations and the cost savings on what would have otherwise been spent on the in-person event.
Delivering a Seamless Attendee Experience
Eventsforce also made it easy for the organisers to create a personalised event experience for remote attendees. SAM members and non-members had their own registration journeys – each with their own set of questions and payment options. Once registered, people could log into the VCD platform and set up their profiles, tag their interests and get automatic recommendations on sessions and networking contacts.
The two-day event featured 14 sessions across two streams covering different aspects of clinical practice within acute medicine. The Eventage team used Vimeo on Vmix to live stream keynotes and presentations on the VCD platform. Attendees were able to use the integrated Slido platform to engage with sessions and speakers through live polls and Q&As. The events team was also able to moderate these discussions and post highlights on the event’s Twitter feed.
“Managing attendee expectations becomes even more important in a virtual environment because things are more likely to go wrong. But the VCD platform ensured we were able to communicate effectively with attendees throughout the event. One of our key speakers was delayed so we used the system’s broadcast messaging tool to let people know and keep them up to date.”
Attendees also had access to a wide range of digital resources. All the sessions were recorded and made available on-demand within the same day. The platform also featured an eposter learning showcase which included 173 presentations from all the selected abstracts submitted around SAM events this year.
Improving Sponsor ROI
Eventage was also able to use the VCD platform to deliver ROI for event sponsors. Sponsors could manage their own profiles on the virtual exhibitors page, which featured things like digital collateral, videos and staff bios. They could also get recommendations on networking contacts, set up meetings and have live video calls within the platform. Banners ads on different tabs within the VCD also helped promote the sponsored lunchtime symposium which was attended by 170 people – a 90% increase to similar sponsor gatherings at SAM in-person events.
“We were very pleased with the outcome of this event. That initial shift to a virtual model can be daunting as there are so many moving and unpredictable parts. The Eventsforce onboarding team, however, made the whole process a lot simpler for us. Our attendees also loved the VCD platform with 97% saying it was very easy to use.”
Moving forwards, the events team at Eventage is now considering a hybrid strategy for SAM events once in-person events resume. More than half of their attendees have already said they would like to attend an event with both in-person and virtual elements in the future. Having a virtual element has also proved to be beneficial for SAM in terms of expanding audience reach and driving more engagement through on-demand content.
- 1,000+ registrations
- 400+ abstract submissions
- 54% increase in attendance
- 42% new attendees
- Budget surplus (More ticket sales + lower overheads)
- 90% increased attendance for sponsored symposium
- 97% of attendees found VCD very easy to use
- 86% of attendees access on-demand content