At the EICC we believe that conferences have the capacity to spark ideas, drive progression, and change the world for the better. In our ever-changing world, this power cannot be put on hold. Which is why, in May last year, we developed and introduced Make It Edinburgh Live, a hybrid events solution that is designed to flex to suit our clients’ needs, and to keep ideas thriving.
When we closed our doors to the public in March 2020, we knew we needed to find a way to continue delivering conferences for our clients, regardless of physical distance. The goal was to create a solution whereby we could deliver events regardless of how and where they are held, allowing our clients to focus on the content of their conference programme.
Make It Edinburgh Live is a hybrid events solution which provides the most productive, authentic and immersive event experience possible. Marshall Dallas, EICC CEO, said: “Following extensive and ongoing dialogue with our clients, we discovered a strong demand for conferences to continue to take place. So, our team developed a hybrid model for holding events partially or fully online.”
This is more than simply live-streamed sessions - it has been designed with the aim of fostering the same meaningful interactions and connections that can be found at an in-person event. As well as presentations and plenary sessions, there are opportunities for delegate participation, and to break into smaller groups for meetings and discussion. Alongside this, delegates can join poster sessions, enter networking spaces divided by subject matter, and there is a virtual green room for speakers to prepare and rehearse with our stage managers, to ensure their presentations run smoothly. There are also opportunities to integrate sponsors and exhibitors who would normally be in attendance - a vital element for many of our association clients.
Richard Lloyd, Technical and ICT Operations Manager at EICC, has played an integral role in the development of Make It Edinburgh Live. “I was responsible for translating what we do in a real-world events environment into an online one,” explains Richard. “Part of that was to look at the products and services already on the marketplace, test those and decide which would best fit the needs of our clients.”
Every event is unique, so creating a flexible solution which could be tailored to the needs of the individual event, was essential. Options include broadcasting live presentations from the EICC’s facilities, with physical distancing procedures in place to protect speakers and everyone involved on site. Many clients have certain services already in place, such as polling systems, and these can all be integrated. “This is part of what makes our service unique,” says Richard. “If our clients already have a piece of the puzzle, then we can integrate it.”
“The fact that the conference is taking place online doesn't change the input we have into making it a success. The professionalism of our crew shows time and time again that it's the people that make an event successful - whilst the technology enables us, the team at the EICC is what really brings an event to life.”
Knowledge and collaboration are often central to the core objectives of an Association and its congress. Despite the current move to an online format, all conferences share one thing in common: their role in facilitating learning, sharing knowledge and inspiring ideas. Working in collaboration with Associations and PCOs to ensure that the vital learning and creativity continue to thrive, whether online or in-person, will be essential in planning conference programmes.
Of course, remote participation in events is not a new idea. However, it has typically only applied to a small percentage of people who were unable to attend for logistical reasons. Against the backdrop of a pandemic, in some cases, 100% of an event will be happening online. We believe that the rapid development of this kind of technology will change the shape of the industry going forward.
“Our new hybrid events solution has opened up opportunities for clients,” says Richard, “because theoretically there’s no limit to the number of people who can attend. Local events can potentially become a more globally attractive acquisition. A lot of clients who would have been thinking about offering something like this may have in the past felt that it was too daunting. I think now people will be more willing to look at this as a positive opportunity - a chance to open it up and deliver something a bit different.”
Take a look at how we helped the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium to reimagine their conference into an online event that was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback: https://www.eicc.co.uk/ideas-hub/sdrc-2020-a-virtual-conference-with-real-world-impact/