We’ve written a few articles now about how our events world was turned upside down in March, and how our team pulled together to bring our events online using a range of video conferencing platforms, and new skills. Whilst this is also true for Build It 2020, a construction conference that we’ve been organising for 3 years, we went a little further for this event. We decided to create our own online ‘hub’ to ensure that everyone involved with the conference received as much exposure and information, if not more so, than if the conference had taken place in real life.
So this is the story of why we built the Build It Hub…
Back in March/April/May, as many stories from 2020 begin, we brought our whole team together to work out how best to move from face-to-face to digital events. We worked through the main features and benefits of real-life events and brainstormed how best to bring these to the digital world. As we learned more, we also began to get excited about the new opportunities that digital events offered!
It’s important to remember that either type of event is difficult to run without sponsors or other stakeholders. If we were going to continue to attract and maintain this type of support, we had to show supporters that all the same promotional opportunities were available online, as well as many new ones.
And so began many painful meetings and discussions around how best to do this. With so many ‘off the shelf’ options for running digital events, and with everyone trying their best to get a handle on this strange new world, working out what direction to head in seemed a little overwhelming at times. We saw very quickly that there were some incredible digital platforms, but many of them were expensive and completely out of budget, or they did not quite fit our needs, or those of our clients.
And then we remembered that we are a creative agency, with a lot of talent and passion for problem solving behind the scenes. We realised that this was actually an opportunity to design our own digital events hub, that was both within budget and had all the features we needed. So our designers, web developers and events team came together in a flurry of Zoom calls, thoughts, and ideas to create an event hub for Build It 2020. Once we were happy with it, our hope was it could then be used for all our events and offered to other clients or organisations who needed a similar solution.
If you want a sneak peek at the final design, you can pop over now to the Build It Hub.
For now, here is a summary of the main features of our events hub, and the benefits that they offered those who supported the conference.
A year-round resource, not just few days
The hub is live all year round, not just for the period of the event. The launch of the event, the search for speakers, opening for applications, registration, everything is done from the event hub. As the event moves through the various stages of planning, key features of the hub can be switched on and off, or given less priority, to reflect these stages. There are strong calls to action throughout the website, so whether you are looking for sponsorship opportunities, would like to present at a conference, or would simply like to attend, it’s clear from your first visit where you should head next.
Because we are continuously sending people to the event hub at every stage of the event journey, sponsors, exhibitors and supporters have an opportunity to reach more people than ever before, regardless of whether or not they actually attend the event.
Extra exposure for sponsors and supporters
After some careful consideration, the Build It hub and online event offered all the same sponsorship opportunities as a real-life event. Main sponsors and supporting sponsors received all the same benefits, with some additional ones thrown on. As well as having their logo throughout the website, and on screen throughout the online event, sponsors, and supporters have access to a new range of resources, that can now be shared with a much wider audience.
All supporting companies have their own profile, with the option to add images, videos, pdf’s, and any text that they like. The profile can be updated at any time, to reflect any key messages they wish to share, or to promote specific projects, products, or people within their company.
Companies are also encouraged to share their own press releases, blogs, or industry updates through the latest news section of the website.
Flexibility for event organisers
We all know that the world of events requires flexibility (especially now!), and an ability to respond to change quickly. Speakers drop out, presentation titles change, sponsors change their logos, timelines shift. Whilst some of this can cause problems with printed event material, having all event information online means that changes can be made in seconds, with no panic about printers or additional costs.
Whilst we hope very much that we return to face to face events as soon as possible (maintaining a digital element of course!), there are some very clear environmental benefits of running an event online, through the event hub. As well as eliminating a need for travel, reducing food waste, and making better use of people’s time, the hub reduces the need for any wasteful print.
Event programmes and handbooks are built into the website, so they can be viewed on mobile devices or laptops. Pop-up banners are replaced by web banners and can be applied to every page of the site if needed. There is no need for delegate badges and plastic holders or lanyards, and there is instead an opportunity to sponsor the registration page and tickets. Instead of delegate bags full of flyers and brochures, there is now an opportunity to have a sponsored ‘digital swag’ area of the website, where all event partners can add unique offers, brochures, and novelty downloads.
So that's a whistle stop tour of our events hub, and some of the benefits that it brought to our ever changing world of events. If you would like to find out more about the hub, or how we can help you with digital events in general, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love the chance to chat to you!