The wait is no more. COVID-19 halted in-person event experiences and digital experiences came to the forefront. But now, as the weight of the pandemic lightens, many are returning to the magic of events -- often with a virtual event component.
We sat down with JUNO’s very own Travis Fitzpatrick, Head of Client Success, to highlight his own grand return to the in-person event experience.
“I walked in the LA Convention Center and it was filled with AAO banners, all of the exhibitor booths, and it was so cool to see things getting set up for a big event,” Fitzpatrick said. “People were getting excited to talk to people in-person again. It was also my first time this year being able to see a client in person; I wanted to give everyone a hug because it was the first time we were able to do things together.”
All of the built-up emotions made for an emotional face-to-face gathering.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery’s Annual Meeting & OTO Experience connects doctors and surgeons for information sharing as well as displaying the latest in technology and surgical equipment.
This was AAO’s 125th year anniversary and their first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. The event had roughly 2,600 people in person and over 2,700 virtual event attendees. As for the hybrid supported experience through JUNO, that meant over 5,300 users within the platform.
“Everyone saw the value of hybrid because not everyone attended in person, but there was still a way to connect,” Fitzpatrick shared. “Some people can’t go because of travel, they weren’t feeling well, they don’t feel comfortable, but they still need a place to connect. Being able to provide that hybrid experience is important. People are now expecting to see a virtual event component."
“Providing that space that caters to both audiences is the future of events.”
That space on JUNO was Fitzpatrick’s role as a Client Success Manager. He oversaw the virtual event experiences enjoyed by the digital and in-person audiences on JUNO’s single destination platform.
“I was there for the event both online and in person. AAO had a JUNO website that helped attendees find sessions, the layout of the convention floor, and really to help people connect with those who might not be there in person,” Fitzpatrick said. “They had sessions that were just in-person, and they had sessions online where virtual attendees could watch."
“I even heard stories that people at the event didn’t go to every session, but they live-streamed them from their hotel via our platform.”
That kind of personal choice is part of the strategy behind offering a virtual event component to an annual convention and tradeshow like AAO-HNS. Although there are many ideas to what goes into a hybrid event, AAO’s attendees could utilize the event website to find necessary information such as the floor layout, bios on featured speakers, event itineraries, exhibitor booths, and even search through an event directory to set up 1-on-1 meetings.
The virtual attendee had full access to live and on demand sessions, digital-only content, as well as the ability to connect with in-person attendees from that remote environment.
“From the team at AAO, and our team at JUNO, everyone was awesome. Our team worked so hard for this event and it was special to be celebrating with them. The coolest part was seeing how people were using the platform, hearing the stories from people who weren't at the event but still attending sessions and networking,” Fitzpatrick said. “This event showed how important in person is, but you have to have a happy medium that caters to all types of people who choose to go in person, and those who choose to not.”