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Making virtual events a success for the Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group
Together with the Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) we helped shift their regular biannual Scientific Meeting from a face-to-face setup to a virtual environment in May 2020, in response to COVID-19. These working meetings bring together hematologists, oncologists, pathologists and scientists from across Australia and New Zealand. With our understanding of the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare experience, NTT was considered the ideal partner to enhance the work of the ALLG through their inaugural virtual event experience. The virtual Scientific Meeting in May 2020 saw an increase in attendance by almost 150% compared to their previous face-to-face meetings. The event was seen as a significant driver of member activity and has helped the ALLG strengthen existing partnerships with professional societies and patient organizations.
Going virtual amid a global pandemic
The ALLG holds a biannual Scientific Meeting to bring together the blood cancer community, which includes hematologists, oncologists, pathologists and scientists from 92 medical institutions across Australia and New Zealand. The Scientific Meeting was scheduled to take place in May 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person meetings impossible.
However, the executive leadership of ALLG was committed to advancing and conducting clinical trials to deliver value to the hematology community, and cancelling the event outright was not an option. Rescheduling speakers and exhibitors to a future date or location was not feasible, as the ALLG run their Scientific Meetings twice a year to provide key updates on clinical trials.
Digital Events project management, Multimedia event production, Virtual event creation, Speaker training and support
Virtual Event Platform
‘We chose NTT because of the stability and security of the platform. Time was against the project and the NTT team was able to work incredibly quickly to go live within an extremely tight timeframe.’, Chief Executive Officer, ALLG
Optimizing the digital customer experience for HCPs
After assessing several digital events and webcast providers, the ALLG selected us to deliver an online meeting to replace the in-person event.
The intent of this virtual scientific meeting was to make participation as convenient as possible, for as many members as possible, and in formats that are most easily accessible in a professional manner. In less than a month, NTT was able to build several interactive components that included:
A virtual exhibit hall that gave the ALLG sponsors a way to deliver their message to all conference attendees in an interactive manner. Exhibitors could customize and brand their virtual booths, as well as offer live chat sessions, downloadable content, streaming media and interactive experiences like trivia and polls.
The conference theater allowed attendees to create a customized agenda by selecting from 14 conference sessions. Speakers also had the ability to interact with attendees using interactive features, including Q&A and polling, as well as share streaming media and downloadable content. Sessions could be viewed live or later, on-demand.
The event lounge offered attendees an additional way to network and interact with each other. One-on-one chats as well as group discussions helped the ALLG community to connect and build stronger relationships.
In addition, our Digital Events team ensured a seamless experience with additional virtual event-specific services such as configuration of the virtual environment, webcast and speaker support, and full project management. This support was especially important as it was the very first time that the ALLG organized a virtual event for their members.
‘We chose NTT because of the stability and security of the platform. Time was against the project and the NTT team was able to work incredibly quickly to go live within an extremely tight timeframe,’ said Delaine Smith, Chief Executive Officer at the ALLG. The ALLG events team added: ‘Training from the NTT team was amazing and was highly praised by our clinicians. Whenever we encountered technical questions in our setup, the team was always calm and patient, and we worked really well together’.
Driving attendee satisfaction and sponsorship for the ALLG
According the ALLG events team, the six-day virtual scientific meeting was a resounding success. By shifting to a virtual environment, the attendance for the meeting skyrocketed by nearly 150% from what their in-person meetings typically averaged. Overall, the May Scientific Meeting was attended by 419 members and 126 sponsor representatives from across all Australian states and territories, and New Zealand. 'We were able to reach roughly 50% of our meeting and this was an important point for us,’ the team shared.
In addition, feedback for the event was extremely positive. In a post-event survey by the ALLG, 92% of 253 session attendee survey respondents rated the sessions as either ‘Extremely High Quality’ or ‘High Quality’. Meanwhile, 72% of survey respondents indicated that they ‘very much enjoyed’ the sessions and 96% indicated that they would attend a similar session in the future.
Delivering ROI for sponsors
The May Scientific Meeting also received positive feedback from the ALLG’s sponsors. ‘Many commented that the ALLG have set the standard in terms of virtual meetings, which is high praise in comparison to the large-scale global events that have been run,’ said the ALLG events team. The team added that following the event, a few of their sponsors have opted to upgrade to a higher tier for their October event, which will again be presented in a virtual format.
Opportunity for innovation
Supported by our team, the upcoming event will offer new technical features such as in-booth private video messaging and conferencing, which will deliver even more extensive opportunities for engagement. In addition, the ALLG is also broadening the scope of the research program to include new sessions and topics, such as tele-trials, rural/regional issues and international collaborations. These virtual formats will continue to enable leading clinicians and scientists in the region to converge to generate research ideas, develop new concepts, provide updates on current trials, share member research publications and presentations, and deliver translational research that will progress evidence-based treatment practice despite unexpected disruptions.