Client: ITS Australia
Event: 17th Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Asia Pacific Forum 2021
Date: 12 – 15 April 2021
Venue: Held virtually on ExpoPlatform
Intelligent transport systems (ITS Australia) promotes the development and deployment of advanced technologies to deliver safer, more efficient, and sustainable transport across all public and private modes: air, sea, road, and rail. The theme of the 17th ITS Asia Pacific Forum was ITS Innovation Creating Liveable Communities.
Four years in the planning, the 17th ITS Asia Pacific Forum 2021 was set to be held as a hybrid event at Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre in April 2021, bringing Australian delegates together in person and providing a virtual platform for those joining from across Asia.
But with Brisbane going into a COVID-19 lockdown less than two weeks before the event, organisers ITS Australia had to make a quick decision to flip the event from hybrid to fully virtual. Having been involved in the planning of the physical event, the Sprintr team were well equipped for the switch.
The last-minute shift to virtual involved;
Setting up the virtual event environment
We deployed our intuitive event platform ExpoPlatform to facilitate all virtual interactions. We delivered a customised event website with real-time suggestions of relevant exhibitors and products, backend system to manage event processes, and regular online support to help the team navigate the platform.
Delivering the ITS Asia Pacific Forum program
Our client set up a mix of on-demand, live and broadcast sessions on different tracks to deliver industry presentations, seminars and programs. They created bright session logos and used eye-catching assets to help define session topics. These sessions had interactive features like chat, polls, Q&A and recording to boost audience participation.
The program content also included on-demand viewing to meet sponsor and exhibitor package deliverables, as well as pre-recorded presentations from speakers, sponsors and exhibitors that weren’t delivered live, but were available as part of the on-demand content.
All live sessions were available as on-demand content post-event too, with keynote sessions made available the following day.
Building connections with matchmaking
ITS Australia wanted to offer personalised recommendations and increase engagement with their content. With the platform’s smart AI matchmaking rules using conditional logic and specific category filters; suggestions were created for both exhibitor and delegate to help guide them to interact with other compatible exhibitors or delegates.
Offering business opportunities via e-marketplace
Integrated within the event digital platform itself, exhibitor showrooms were created to showcase their products and network with attendees via direct message, in-platform video meetings and favourite functions.
Having planned the event to include hybrid features from the beginning meant some elements of the transformation to a fully virtual event were quite simple. Using an API and changing a couple of settings made giving all delegates access to the virtual event easy. Exhibitors had already received training on the platform from the Sprintr team so they were ready to go with their virtual booths.
ExpoPlatform itself is also very modular and customisable, so our client, alongside event partner MCI, were able to get “elbow deep” inside the platform themselves to help shape the event experience as per their unique needs.
To overcome the lack of an in-person experience, we created an interactive 3D floor plan where attendees could simply click on the exhibitors’ stands and be taken to their profiles. We utilised interactive functionalities within the platform to facilitate rich experiences throughout the event.
We also deployed an interactive lobby using the familiar image of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre to welcome delegates which provided another sponsorship opportunity for event partners to showcase their brands and products.
The client perspective
Event and Sponsorship Manager Janette Sofronidis says “switching the ITS Asia Pacific Forum 2021 from a hybrid to an entirely online event with less than two weeks to go was a scenario no event organiser ever wishes to encounter.”
“Despite the substantial challenge posed by this transition, the Sprintr team supported us to deliver a highly successful event for delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors alike,” says Janette.
Even though they were happy to become very familiar with the virtual platform, MCI Project Manager Meg Watt says the event wouldn’t have gone live without the Sprintr team who provided much time-saving assistance.
“The team is always available and easy to communicate with, always willing to connect for a debrief after long days so we could not be more thankful,” says Meg.
She says stakeholder feedback was positive post-event, with the client, organising committee and delegates all happy.
“The industry appreciated the quick flip and appreciated what was delivered,” she says.
The virtual platform also provided a lot of data which were able to feed back to stakeholders after the event.
Janette says “Sprintr’s staff operated with great professionalism, efficiency and enthusiasm. The access to analytics and reporting afforded by the platform provided insight into the engagement and behaviour of attendees that would not have been possible with a traditional, in-person event.”
Consider a virtual backup for your next event
Sprintr’s Director of Business & Innovation Chris Schlueter says it’s important to approach the possibility of a hybrid event – or having a virtual event as a backup – with a hybrid event mindset.
“If the physical event can’t go ahead or attendees are not able or permitted to travel, then you can simply offer a fully virtual experience instead,” says Chris.
“A hybrid mindset will give you the opportunity to significantly increase the reach of your event, especially if COVID-19 capacity restrictions limit the number of attendees in your physical space. There’s a huge amount to be gained from including a virtual platform from the outset with new revenue streams and exposure”
He says there’s plenty that can be done within a virtual event that can’t be done at a purely physical event, including monetisation of the platform and delivering detailed analytics which demonstrate return on investment.
Ads can be specifically tailored to the virtual audience on the platform and there are potential wins for exhibitor leads.
“The big difference for an exhibitor is that it increases your number of quality leads as opposed to just the quantity of leads that come through the door. Those that are coming through virtually can be higher quality and have essentially been vetted as part of the process of AI matchmaking to be interested in your products or your company,” he says.
Artificial intelligence functions of software like ExpoPlatform can also help delegates choose which concurrent sessions to go to and recommend exhibitors that might be a good fit to meet with.
And for organisers, a virtual platform allows for a more refined experience than a physical event – with pre-recorded sessions, “ums” and “ahs” and flustered speakers can be polished up and delivered live or on-demand and paired with interactive live Q&A sessions.
“What it allows you to do is present an online product that is far more refined than your physical product could ever be,” says Chris.
Sprintr has a long history as a valued partner for MCI Group, here in Australia and around the world. The team at Sprintr are always a pleasure to work with and go above and beyond to support MCI in delivering exceptional events for our clients.