The prestigious Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) is the longest-standing association that represents financial advisers and their clients in Australia. They host an annual three-day live event that takes place in a capital city for over 600 delegates from around the country. However, in 2020 the live event could no longer take place, or at least, not in the same way. The challenge to us as lead agency: reinvent the conference virtually and turn up the dial on attendee engagement and ROI. Crucially, we also needed to reinforce the strong, close-knit community that the AFA is so proud of.
AFA needed a sophisticated, effective way to connect to their customers, partners, and stakeholders without being face-to-face. The result: we created a bespoke, two-day virtual solution: the innovative AFA VISION 2020 Conference. We carefully cultivated a professional TV-show format that was underpinned by creative technology and real-life benefits.
We needed to deliver the content and service that the AFA is renowned for, while ensuring the delegates remained fully engaged. Just switching everything to a simple webinar format was not going to cut it. The conference became a high-value professional broadcast, complete with networking, gamification and immersive, interactive experiences to keep the delegates glued to their screens over the two-day event period. Additionally, all of the creative tech elements were driven towards particular engagement goals. We created a bespoke webcast platform, a slick exhibitor chat function, and interactive tools like polls and Q&As. We also provided data tracking and analysis for four months on the content post-event. The new digital format allowed more people to attend and made it easier for conference guests to interact with the speakers, chatting in real-time with the experts. It also allowed AFA to sell something unexpected to their sponsors.
Being able to track delegates more closely than before, offered more in-depth analytics. We also provided unique engagement options in chat rooms, polls, interactive sessions and more. A customised reporting dashboard provided all the analytics AFA needed at a glance, and opened a whole new world of customer retargeting for them and their sponsors. VISION 2020 was also more environmentally friendly, allowing conference attendees to skip the travel and hostel costs and hassles. They enjoyed the conference from their couch, happy in the knowledge that they were being sustainably responsible.
One of the biggest challenges of this real-to-digital conversion is to show what the new virtual value is over the traditional conference, as the latter was the format they've been accustomed to for many years. For the VISION 2020 Conference, there was a host of features: the 80-plus live speakers, the five live industry panel sessions, polls, live Q&As and networking sessions, and the virtual expo of 30-plus partners and exhibitors during the event. Also, we offered 36 hours of CPD-accredited content and four months of on-demand access to all the exclusive content from the presentations and masterclasses. Crucially, this content counts towards professional development points, so it's a massive benefit for the attendees in terms of their careers.
AFA proved that virtual solutions, if done right, can provide higher levels of engagement, a better user experience, and data insights which offer more sponsor-partnering power and impressive ROI. And the big outcome here? Our hand was forced in 2020 to boldly try something new, and we're betting this year's format is here to stay.
Ready to turn your next conference or exhibition into a digital event showstopper? You'll need to put the user experience first, harness the best creative technology, create a community feel virtually, and most importantly, you'll need to recruit the right partners.