Prioritize engagement packages over the expo hall.
When ASA canceled its 2020 live annual meeting and held a fully virtual program instead, organizers didn’t necessarily have great expectations, especially when it came to its expo.
So, the ASA team did what it could, using responsive design to encourage mobile participants to visit, as well as linking to the virtual exhibit hall from other areas of the virtual event platform. But organizers knew those tactics wouldn’t likely help with another hurdle—getting smaller or unknown exhibiting companies in front of attendees. In a live setting, Pomerantz, “they benefit by just being in the [exhibit] hall, where attendees are.”
So, ASA de-emphasized the exhibit hall altogether, instead steering participating companies to invest in “engagement packages,” which included non-continuing-medical-education sessions, educational resource offerings, and organized networking opportunities called “Table Talks.”
These were highly attended and often drew hundreds of people, which sponsoring companies were thrilled with. Participants enjoyed having the chance to ask questions or converse via the chat feature, and sponsored roundtables about career development and diversity also proved particularly popular.
For the latter, the team used Remo, a virtual networking platform. “It was almost like walking into a large room of roundtables, scoping out the room, looking at different topics—you click on the table of interest, and you’re there with four or six other participants,” Pomerantz says. “The energy was high; it was really quite remarkable.”
In the future, Pomerantz says, ASA is going to have to continue to think creatively when designing sponsored opportunities for the virtual space.