UNSW Aviation Events - Case Study

Executive Summary

The Air Transport Research Society (ATRS) partnered with Whova to throw the biggest aviation-related conference in the sector for the 24th year in a row. The event was held on August 25th-29th, 2021, hosted by UNSW Aviation of the University of New South Wales, Australia. Utilizing the Whova virtual platform, attendees could participate in several concurrent live streams and sessions, with a 90% app adoption rate.

[The international attendees] thanked us profusely because they had had such a great experience through the Whova app […] I think it was fantastic that the research community was able to come together, because without [Whova], they wouldn’t have been able to. Lorda Omeissah

University of New South Wales School of Aviation Manager and ATRS World Conference Organizer

About Air Transport Research Society World Conference

The ATRS was created as a special interest group of the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTR) during the 7th Triennial WCTR Conference in 1995. The society’s objectives include providing a forum to facilitate the exchange of information or forming research teams to investigate the topic of continental or worldwide interest, causing those from airlines, airports, governments, research institutes, and academia to become aware of the ATRS and its activities because of the WCTR conference.

Partnering with Whova led to a successful virtual event at the 24th annual conference, with 85% of attendees saying they “love Whova.” Over the five-day event, attendees could customize their own schedules with the sessions they wanted to attend. Plus, with over 1,000 messages sent through Whova during the event, attendees could easily communicate during the engaging and informative conference.


App Adoption


Love Whova


Personalized Agendas


Messages Exchanged


Matchmaking Connections


This would be the conference’s first time online, and the organizers wanted to proactively handle any possible concerns. By working directly with Whova, they addressed challenges such as:

  • Connecting an international audience 

The ATRS conference was tasked with virtually connecting an international audience that featured academics and researchers from 39 countries. While participants were not in the same physical space, the organizers wanted them to feel connected like a live conference.

  • Centralizing conference communication

With so many sessions and attendees to organize, ATRS needed an efficient way to disseminate updates, news, and documents. Plus, they needed a way to welcome new attendees to the platform with messages explicitly geared toward this audience.

  • Virtually scheduling an extensive agenda

Organizers needed to find a way to schedule their extensive agenda of over 300 sessions during the five-day event. With so many sessions over the five days, eight concurrent sessions were possible at the event. Time only allowed a 15-minute turnaround before sessions and had to finish on time for the event to work.

  • Running multiple sessions at once

With so many events happening at once, there is no way attendees could go to all sessions at the event. Organizers needed a way to let event goers attend sessions that they could not make.

  • Finding a secure and reliable platform

Connecting international audiences would be only part of the challenge faced by the ATRS World Conference. Particularly organizers had concerns about Chinese participants and their connectivity. With lots of sessions, everything needed to run smoothly, and organizers wanted to test platform features before the event. 


1) The Whova app was able to connect the international audience virtually using an intuitive all-in-one platform. About 75% of people who attend conferences consider networking their main priority. Using the Whova Matchmaking feature, over 200+ participants were connected to other attendees during the five-day event. This tool used attendees’ custom Whova profile to make effective matches based on backgrounds, company affiliation, interests, and more.

Air Transport Research Society 2021 - Attendees

Attendees were matched based on common backgrounds and interests

With over 90% of attendees downloading the Whova app, they could connect easily through in-app features, like commenting on discussion topics on the event’s Community Board forum or attending virtual video call meet-ups. This was especially useful for international participants, who could connect asynchronously from different time zones. Organizers could also easily get in touch with attendees through announcements, which would notify attendees in-app and by email. Organizers could even specialize who received different announcements, such as only sharing with “newly added” attendees. 

We needed a platform that would help them feel like they were connecting with each other and give it that conference experience, and work in terms of connectivity and reliability […] Whova offered that.

Lorda Omeissah

University of New South Wales School of Aviation Manager and ATRS World Conference Organizer


Messages Exchanged


Matchmaking Connections

2) Using the Whova session track feature, managing an extensive event agenda was simple. Organizers set multiple “session tracks” for different topics, like air-traffic control or security. Attendees could filter through these tracks to the topics they were interested in, select a session they wanted to attend, and add it to their schedule.  Using the Whova app, organizers could schedule nearly 300 sessions, many running concurrently, with no technical issues.

Air Transport Research Society 2021 - Sessions
The organizers scheduled multiple simultaneous sessions that attendees could filter by different session tracks


Personalized Agendas

3) Sessions could be pre-recorded or streamed live through Zoom. To increase accessibility to attendees, organizers were able to record sessions as they happened live and upload them to Whova. Organizers could then add the recorded sessions back into the agenda, allowing participants who missed a session to rewatch meetings they could not attend. All sessions over the five-day ATRS event were centrally located on the Whova app, where attendees could easily access them six months after the conference.

4) The Whova app provided a secure and reliable platform for organizers to host their event while also allowing them to test it before it occurred. And by setting up a back channel of communication with staff, organizers could ensure that session hosts were logged onto sessions and mitigated technical issues.

There were no real technical issues at the event.

Lorda Omeissah

University of New South Wales School of Aviation Manager and ATRS World Conference Organizer

Whova also had many prepared guides and resources that organizers could share with staff to ensure everything went smoothly during the event. The Whova app met and exceeded organizers’ concerns about finding a secure and reliable platform for the virtual event.

Air Transport Research Society 2021 - Resources
Whova provides a variety of user guides for attendees, speakers, and more

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