In 2013 Gallus Events undertook to transform a scientific congress into a true learning experience. The event was the British Dietetic Association’s flagship event, now called BDA Live and Online.

A very quick guide on how to transform a scientific congress

This is the presentation for BDA Live and Online which we presented to the BDA board. We said we would be transforming their scientific congress and we tried to visually show them how. If you have a flick through you will see what we planned to do with the congress.

Innovation in medical and scientific congresses

We put most of the things we write about in the blog into practice for the BDA. It is a big jump from a very traditional event. 

When and how to innovative

I believe that innovation is for every event and for every event organiser to master. But innovating is hard, especially when you have to persuade your stakeholders of the need to innovate. Often the case is that delegates who attend events seldom cry out for innovation! Fortunately the BDA were very open to a totally new approach to their event. They have been exceptionally brave and I believe their members are very lucky that their association is willing to take this particular risk on their behalf. We realise that the opportunity to transform an event like this is very rare indeed and that most associations and most events will see a more natural growth being a bit less risk averse.

Plant, grow, bloom and blossom

The BDA had a quite unusual position in that their annual event had not run the previous year. We were then able to be more adventurous with the innovation. Not only did we have a blank canvas but the association really felt like they needed to innovate and that they had little to lose.

The event in full bloom

BDA Live and Online transformed into into an event in full bloom by taking an innovative and experiential approach to the event. Gallus Events have worked with clients to support events in all of the above stages of growth. The approach to innovation in all of these events has to differ in some very subtle ways. However, in every event a creative and innovative approach has proved to improve the event and helped them achieve their objectives. Do let us know if you would like our support.

At the Event Innovation Summit in Barcelona in October a charming Spanish Gentleman and I got speaking about hashtags. As you do! He said he had seen the Event Innovation Summit hashtag being used and advertised but wasn’t sure exactly why the organisers and everyone else would use it. I very briefly said they are great and I have been going on about hashtags for a while!

We then started talking about EIBTM. He said “how can I get the most from the #eibtm? I said that would depend form what perspective he looked from. Was he talking as:

  • an attendee
  • an exhibitors
  • a speakers or
  • the organiser

Using EIBTM as an example he wanted to understand exactly how a hashtag if used properly could add value to his next event. I said I would drop him a note. And here it is in Blog format. I’ve looked at how each stakeholder could use the event hashtag to best effect.

How to get the most out of the #eibtm (or any event) hashtag

Now I am using the #eibtm hashtag as a live example but the outline really could be relevant for ANY event hashtag.

And I will look at how each stakeholder can use the hashtag to get more value from the event. With one week to go to EIBTM I would love to see an increased awareness of how useful the tag could and should be. So please feel free to forward on the Blog.

So first up and most importantly: how attendees should make the most of an event #tag

1.Use it to keep up to date. As we build up to the event the hashtag is a great way to find out more about the event in an easy, hassle free way. At a large event there is a lot going on. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening simply FOLLOW THE HASHTAG. Following the #tag is easy. Just type it into the search function in Twitter and save the search.

2. Use it to help you network. Most of the people and organisations using the hashtag in the run up to the event will be attending. You can use the #tag to help make the most of your time at the conference.

 – Is there anyone who is ‘talking your language?’

– Is someone they tweeting about the areas that you want to know about?

If so why not contact them and ask to meet up? The hashtag is a great way to open up communication with people outside of your network who have similar interests.

3. Use it to help you decide what to do at the show. You have a whole host of choices at a show the size of EIBTM. It is impossible to go to every stand or to see every speaker. So use the hashtag to help you make those decisions. If you aren’t sure about a session why not see if that speaker has tweeted using the hashtag? (in the speaker section below I will cover what they should be tweeting about) If they have tweeted I would say he/she is more likely to have put more effort into their engagement and involvement with the show. The same goes for exhibitors. As an attendee I will be using the hashtag as a pointer to the sessions I should attend and the stands I should visit.

How speakers should make the most of an event #tag

1. Use it to provide more learning. It is unlikely that any speaker is really able to get everything over to those gathered to listen to her during their short session. So use the hashtag as a way to point to extra content. It’s a great way to get people to do a bit of prep before they attend your session – perhaps a blog on the issue you are covering or other content related to the session.

2. Use the hashtag to engage with your audience. Jump on the hashtag and use it to check and tailor the content you are covering. Ask your potential audience. After your session use it to see if you missed anything out of your session as well as highlighting more content related to your session.

3. Use it to promote your session. You want the right people at your session so use the hashtag to tell people who that is and why they should attend your session.

How exhibitors should make the most of an event #tag

1. Generate leads. Follow people who use the hashtag. Retweet their great content. Start engaging with attendees before the event. Try to make sure that the people who arrive on your stand already know who you are and more importantly that you have taken the time to know who they are.

2. Shorten your sales pipeline. Use the hashtag to see who is attending the event. You won’t have a complete list from the organisers so use the hashtag to find out. Find out a bit more about their business via their Twitter profile. Contact them if they are relevant, if you think you can really help them. With this proactive approach you could have them arrive on your stand to discuss the proposal you’ve already worked on.

3. Don’t just highlight that you are taking a stand but highlight why people should seek you out. Upload links to content using the hashtag. Demonstrate that you understand your clients business by commenting and retweeting.

Use it to prove that you are committed to your customers and serious about doing business at the show.

How organisers should make the most of an event #tag

This is the simple part. As organisers we can add so much value to our events if we lead on use of the hashtag. This link explains how organisers can best use the hashtag in detail.

But in general all we have to do is promote the benefits (like I’ve listed above) to our stakeholders. When people use our hashtag there is so much in it for us so we have to put that bit more into it. We have to educate and inform. And most importantly we have to lead and demonstrate that we really know what not only we are talking about but what our attendees, exhibitors and speakers want to talk about.