AMS has helped its clients make the transition to virtual events over the course of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, AMS took the decision to embrace this unexpected situation as an opportunity, and quickly set up a Virtual Meetings Taskforce, tasked with creating a Meeting Planning Toolkit that could be adapted to assist in planning virtual, hybrid or in-person events. This Meeting Planning Toolkit was utilized (and informed by) the work of several client teams that adapting their clients’ annual meetings or conferences to a virtual environment, including International Claim Association (ICA), State Law Resources, Inc. (SLR) and the National Association of Dealer Counsel (NADC).
Over the next few weeks, we will be posting a series of case studies exploring how individual client teams put all of their event planning, project management and budgeting skills to the test in order to pivot from in-person to virtual events. First up we have the International Claim Association (ICA).
The ICA team was faced with the challenge of adapting their planned in-person annual conference to a virtual environment, and doing so at a significantly reduced cost to account for cancellation expenses accruing from the in-person event. In addition to these challenges, the team set itself the goal of retaining at least 50% of average in-person attendee numbers. They also prioritized providing a seamless virtual experience for attendees in order to fulfill ICA’s mission of providing interesting, relevant education content for members.
To achieve this, they negotiated with their existing event vendor to provide a virtual meeting platform to meet ICA’s needs, in addition to meeting registration, abstract submission, and sponsor and exhibit sales services. They then marketed the virtual conference to members, non-members, potential sponsors and exhibitors, highlighting the reduced registration cost, the ease of attending and access to content and resources for up to 90 days post-conference.
To ensure everything ran smoothly during the week of the conference, the ICA client team provided thorough education to team members, moderators & speakers on the use of the virtual platform. They also assigned a behind-the-scenes IT team to troubleshoot any issues on the day, which allowed other team members to focus solely on the content and attendee engagement.
The ICA Virtual Meeting was attended by over 200 claim industry professionals, exceeding ICA’s goal of retaining 50% of projected in-person attendees. In line with AMS’s Meeting Planning Toolkit, the ICA team made sure to note their key learning and takeaways following the conference. These included:
- Ensure all speakers/moderators are familiar with your chosen virtual platform before the conference – and make sure to allocate time for a dry run.
- Provide frequent breaks & networking opportunities. A “chair yoga” session with a professional instructor was particularly popular with ICA members.
- Send a daily agenda email to attendees – this prevents attendees from becoming overwhelmed by content and helps maximize attendance at sessions.
Immediately following the conference, the ICA team sent out a post-event survey which revealed that attendees were very satisfied with the virtual meeting experience. The team then communicated results and key takeaways to the ICA Board, who commended AMS on their planning & execution of the event:
“Amazingly, with all that could potentially go wrong in facilitating a five-day virtual conference, the event went flawlessly. I contribute this achievement wholly to the exceptional work done by the AMS team. I cannot overstate just how happy I am with the performance of your team.”
– Antonio Ferrante, President, International Claim Association
Both the ICA team and AMS management were delighted with the overwhelmingly positive client feedback. They attribute a large part of ICA’s successful shift from in-person to virtual event to AMS’s Meeting Planning Toolkit and the hard work and ingenuity of individual team members.
Next in our series on AMS virtual meetings, we will take a look at State Law Resources (SLR) virtual event.