Virtual Event Success Story: ACEL

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When Australia’s largest education sector association needed to switch its face-to-face Global Conference to a 100% virtual event, they turned to CrowdComms for help.

We chatted with Head of Operations, Peggy Revell about ACEL’s experience adopting virtual event technology for the very first time. 

Did you have any concerns about making the Global Conference a virtual event?

Our Association was going through some changes, so we wanted to carry on with the Conference to assure our members and customers that we will continue to provide the same high-quality offerings we have been delivering for a number of years.

We decided to do the Global Conference online as a way to continue that engagement with our members, but also to provide people with the opportunity to know more about the direction ACEL was heading in. 

Like any other event organisers who have had to pivot to an online format, we had a lot of concerns around logistics. 

How do we plan for this because obviously the planning for an online event is very different to a live event? 

The fact we would be fully relying on technology that no-one has experience with.  When you’re holding an event face-to-face there’s a lot more control. During the initial planning stages, one of our biggest fears was what would happen if the technology failed and there was no back-up. 

More importantly, we also wanted to make sure there was still the same level of engagement for our members and attendees when they’re online. We wanted to ensure that conversations could keep going and they could share ideas. We went in with a bit of trepidation but with the help of CrowdComms we were able to smooth all of that out and plan the event successfully.

Why did you choose CrowdComms as your virtual event platform provider?

The CrowdComms team provided us with a really user-friendly solution. I dealt with Vanessa Bishop who was very helpful in showing us the capabilities of the system.

We could understand what it would look like and how we could work together to make sure our objectives would be met.

Like anything budget also played a part in our decision making and CrowdComms were able to work a solution that met with our budget. 

Most importantly, the ease with which we were able to deal with the team was important. We needed to appoint a provider that we were comfortable working with. We looked at this as a partnership between our two companies in delivering the event successfully.

How did you find the virtual event process with CrowdComms, from initial set-up to post-event wrap-up?

I couldn’t have been happier with the virtual event experience! Our board and President said it was the smoothest event ever – they had nothing negative to say after the event. It certainly it left me with a very positive feeling, and of course that couldn’t have happened without CrowdComms working with us. 

The process was seamless, right through from contracting to the planning and delivery of the event. CrowdComms became an extension of our team.

They were able to bring the expertise as well as the technology, which left us free to focus on the program and the content delivery. It was important for us, and for me as Head of Operations, to work with a provider we were comfortable with in order to deliver our event successfully. 

We had to go through a lot of meetings, testings and rehearsals with our speakers, it was a lot of hard work, but it was very much a partnership. We had to ensure that our speakers, moderators and hosts knew what to do with the platform when they were online and that the planning and testing phases were executed perfectly.  I was really grateful for the team at CrowdComms, they were very good at ensuring we stayed on track and guided us as we went along to see if we’d forgotten anything.

What benefits does the virtual event bring to your participants and attendees?

Having a fully virtual event meant we could be more accessible to people who don’t usually come to our in-person event. For our Global Conference we had lot more international participants. We also had people from remote and regional Australia who wouldn’t have been able to attend a physical event.

That enabled ACEL to raise our profile with a larger audience.

We normally have 800-1,000 delegates at our live event, so having 3,000 for the virtual conference was amazing for us.  

As a result, that meant an increase in membership from the international contingent and from regional Australia too.

The virtual event allowed participants to play recordings of the sessions they may have missed and have that content available on demand – long after the Conference finished. This is important for us as an association where professional learning is so important for our members. Our Global Conference is our largest event annual event that provides networking and professional development opportunity. 

Having the video on demand meant attendees could replay the sessions they missed and/or recap on key points. We were able to share documents and slide presentations which everyone seemed to love – it meant that people could access an in-depth learning experience and study at their own pace post event. 

We were still able to invite international thought leaders to speak at the event in real time and not worry about their travel and accommodation costs. They were able to deliver live, in front of an audience, and people could still ask questions and engage – just as they would at an in-person event.  We didn’t have the barrier of travel restrictions or health regulations – which provided us with great flexibility. 

Finally, sponsors were obviously pleased to connect directly with members online via the chat function.  They gave us some great feedback.  

Would you recommend CrowdComms’ virtual event service to other event planners?

The CrowdComms team are truly wonderful to work with. They were able to assist with as much or as little as we needed to ensure our vision was realised.  

Every event is different, but if you have a good partner to work with that you trust and can build rapport with, it makes all the difference

They need to be able to guide you and help build solutions that you may never have thought of, or even create a bespoke solution based on your current needs. It’s highlighted that partnership between ourselves and CrowdComms.  

 From ACEL’s point of view we very much appreciate all the support that CrowdComms have been able to give us in the past year with all the different events that we’ve held, so thank you very much. 

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Whatever your vision for your next virtual, hybrid or in-person event, we can help.

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Whatever your vision for your next virtual, hybrid or in-person event, we can help.