Key Takeaways on Producing Hybrid Events from IASLC’s Megan Martin
By Danica Tormohlen, Host of Hybrid Hour
Megan Martin, CMP, Associate Director of Conferences at International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). Since Megan joined the association in January, she has been producing virtual events. Last year, she served as President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of PCMA and produced two hybrid events – one last September called the 6 foot lab at the Omni Broomfield and one in January for Convening Leaders at the Gaylord Rockies.
IASLC is producing its World Conference virtually Sept. 8-14, 2021. IASLC 2022 World Conference on Lung Cancer is planned for August in Vienna. The World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) is dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. More than 7,000 delegates come from 100+ countries to discuss the latest developments in thoracic malignancy research.
Pace of change.
“What we're doing now is really trying to prep the association for when we go back to in-person because the pandemic has changed the way we consume information and content has completely changed now. The pandemic escalated and accelerated the pace of our change.”
Attendee UX is critical.
“We're trying to prep for that new consumer behavior and how people want to get their content. We're thinking now about hybrid and how we deliver that in a new hybrid and face-to-face setting. No longer do you need to have a giant general session where people come and just sit in a room and watch speakers. It has to be so much more dynamic than that.” How can show organizers make B2B experiences more like B2C experiences on Netflix or Amazon?
Preparing for new consumer behaviors.
“When I think about what's new in consumer habits … one thing is how do you even find sessions? With Netflix and Amazon, you are literally spoonfed recommendations based on your viewing habits or your shopping habits. But when attendees come to a meeting or a conference, we say here are 300 sessions, go through it every single day and pick out what you like. That's exhausting. We need to be using technologies starting with AI matchmaking. We can nudge people into recommended sessions based on interest areas right now. When they log into the site or show up at the meeting or open an app, we can say based on your viewing habits and other meetings you've attended with us we know you're really interested in this XYZ topic. Here's six sessions we think you might be interested in. We can start customizing that attendee experience that we've never really done in the past.”
RFP process for event tech platforms.
IASLC is in the process of selecting a new platform for events. “The first thing our meeting staff did is take a step back and say let's prepare for what's next. We created a wishlist and developed a needs assessment. If we're looking for a platform, here's what we think our virtual and hybrid space is going to look like. What do we want the technology to look like to help support that objective?”
Standardization on the horizon.
“The biggest reason we are looking to standardize our platform is to make it easier for our attendees, so they don’t have to keep relearning new platforms. If it is hard for them to find the content, they’re not going to do it.”
Using data to track what attendees really want.
“We need to be able to track and record our CMEs. We also can see what people want via their clicks. Watching their interests shows us to lean into specific content. We can better crossmarket and create better offerings.”
One tip on producing hybrid events: tech prep.
“The more you can prep and train and prepare and make sure the technology is right, the better off you're going to be. I say that because the it’s a challenge to hold people’s attention at your virtual meeting when they have a hundred other distractions, emails, pinging, the kids are yelling, the dog is barking. If the technology breaks, they're just going to say forget it, and they're out of the system. They're not at your event anymore. You don't get to hold their attention like you do at a live meeting. I would spend a majority of my time vetting, testing and retesting the technology. That is your venue.”
Leverage your partnerships.
“The partnership side right now is going to be key to the success because you have to have vendors, venues and partners willing to be creative and outside of the box with you. That's really where the success is going to happen. No more … we've always done it that way because the world doesn't work that way anymore. So how do we balance all of that? With really good partners to be able to execute really great events.”
Hybrid strategy in the short term.
“We have three more virtual conferences this year. They are pretty much content driven. Sometimes regional, sometimes topic specific. Just because we can go back to in person doesn’t mean we can only offer content in person. Some events should still be virtual because it reaches more people.”
Feel like you missed out? Listen to a recording of the full Clubhouse hour with Megan Martin here.
You can listen to Danica Tormohlen and JUNO weekly on the Clubhouse app! We are live tweeting every session. Join the conversation with #junohybridhh or tweet @junoliveconnect any questions in advance!
Mark your calendar: Join us for Hybrid Hour at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 17.
Danica Tormohlen is an Award-Winning Journalist, Content Strategist and Omnichannel Media Pro. For trade show industry news and analysis, follow her on Twitter @DanicaTormohlen.