SIOPSA partnered with Whova for their 23rd annual conference, entitled “Re-humanizing Work”. The event aimed to create a discussion around building humane workplaces, so the organizers needed to encourage attendees to engage with the content and each other. Through the Whova event app, organizers were able to facilitate thousands of engagement actions between attendees during the event, as well as helping sponsors and exhibitors garner a high ROI.
About the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in South Africa Conference
SIOPSA is the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in South Africa. The yearly conference brings together psychologists, people practitioners, behavioral specialists, business leaders, and line managers. After moving online in 2020, the 2021 SIOPSA Conference was the second time the society held the event virtually due to the pandemic.
The three-day conference included both live-streamed and pre-recorded sessions, such as:
- Keynote addresses
- Research presentations
- Panel discussions
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The organizers for the 23rd annual SIOPSA Conference faced several challenges trying to plan another successful virtual event. Some of the concerns they needed to manage included:
1. Engaging attendees virtually. Not being able to approach others in person meant that networking at a virtual event was going to look different, and organizers wanted to have various ways that attendees could engage with each other and create meaningful connections during the three-day event. As the event’s theme focused on developing stronger workplaces, networking was an essential ingredient for the conference.
2. Providing sponsors and exhibitors with a high ROI. Sponsors and exhibitors invest a lot of time and money on displays, booths, and advertising. Moreover, a sponsor’s investment is a big part of bringing an event to life. Organizers wanted to ensure they would see a good return on their investment. Unlike an in-person conference, online exhibitors weren’t going to be able to have physical booths where they could meet potential leads. The virtual nature of the event also changed how visible the sponsors’ branding efforts could be. The conference organizers needed a way to offer the same level of visibility and opportunity for interaction with attendees online.
Exhibitors could showcase their company with digital booths, and automatically collect leads when attendees interacted with them
3. Managing several live-streamed sessions throughout the multi-day conference. The event was jam-packed with several sessions and speakers each day, so the organizers wanted to make sure the live sessions went off without a hitch. Not every speaker is familiar with the technology or how to use it, which can cause some glitches for sessions. Additionally, with virtual events, there is a chance that some of the sessions or activities may have technical difficulties. Organizers also had to work to make sure pre-recorded sessions were streaming correctly.
Despite these challenges, Whova’s strong customer support and the unique features of our product helped conference organizers overcome these hurdles. Here is how we did it:
1. Conference attendees had high levels of engagement. Through the Whova app, users could use various features to engage with speakers, exhibitors, and each other. A key reason for the conference was to connect with others in the industry or with similar interests. Luckily, Whova allows attendees to see who will be at the event, send them a message, or even arrange a group meetup to get to know more people. The app even includes a Recommended option, to match attendees with others with similar interests or backgrounds.
With customizable attendee profiles, attendees could easily find others and reach out to them through the app
The event app also offers engaging features such as photo sharing on the platform or posting directly to social media. Attendees could also engage further by answering surveys and polls, and at the SIOPSA conference ended up submitting nearly 1,000 poll responses.
The Community Board also allowed app users to discuss event topics in a forum, and they could even join or arrange meetups to take their interactions to the next level. Attendees who could not arrange in-person meetings were able to get together through video calls right in the app. These features were especially popular at the conference, with over 100 discussion topics posted, and more than 350 attendees participating in meetups. Attendees also sent and received over 4,500 messages and shared more than 450 photos.
2. Event sponsors and exhibitors saw high ROI. To boost visibility for exhibitors, exhibitors were able to create coupons, raffles, and giveaways for all attendees to see and participate in through an in-app virtual booth. They were also able to post photos, videos, and other documents to showcase their company. Meanwhile, attendees could also comment, share photos, and even like exhibitor booths from the app. Leads are gathered automatically when attendees interact with the exhibitor’s booth, and can later be exported to their CRM.
To promote sponsors, organizers could feature virtual banners with the sponsors’ logo throughout the app. The organizers were also able to tier sponsorship benefits by placing high-tier sponsor banners in highly visible locations and even creating sponsored sessions through Whova to give certain sponsors more visibility. Results from the SIOPSA conference showed there were over 80,000 impressions for sponsors, and exhibitors generated more than 350 leads.
Organizers increased sponsor visibility by featuring company banners throughout the app
3. Organizers used the Whova app to successfully manage sessions and activities throughout the event. Using a single platform offered them an easy and straightforward way to centralize planning and management throughout the event
Attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors responded well to the simple navigation, which included engagement features that were easy to find during sessions. 95% of attendees used the app, with nearly 500 participants creating a personalized agenda, and survey results showed that 92% of attendees said they loved using Whova.
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Personal Agendas Created
In spite of not being able to do a face-to-face conference due to COVID-19 regulations, we found that our virtual conference, facilitated by the Whova platform was able to provide an engaging experience and replicate much of the elements from previous in-person conferences.Phiona Martin