“Without the OnAIR platform, our options would have been completely limited in terms of what we could have offered. We looked at other platforms out there and decided that OnAIR was the best one for our conference, and we’re very glad we did! It enabled us to work, extend our brand, extend our relationships, and extend our revenue, in a time when otherwise we would have had to hunker down and pray that the virus would just go away.”Andy Rice, Chief Operational Officer, Major Events International
MEI is a business development consultancy that acts as an interface between the organizers of major events, such as the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, and European Championships, connecting them with best of breed suppliers. The company aims to help mitigate risk, minimize cost, and maximize revenues and engagement. Part of this process is putting together summits that allow suppliers and organizers to come together.
The challenge for MEI was to turn its flagship event, Major Events Summit (MES), into a successful virtual conference. The virtual event needed to provide the same level of engagement and value as the traditionally physical conference, which could not go ahead as planned due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The organizers required a virtual event that would allow suppliers and decisionmakers, involved in the world’s most prolific sports and performance events, to enjoy the same levels of connection and interaction as they would at the physical event.
“Networking and the transfer of best practice knowledge is very important at our summits,” said Andy Rice, Chief Operating Officer at MEI.
“The 2020 MES was due to take place in Birmingham in June, but when COVID-19 hit in March, we had to decide whether to cancel it or switch over to a virtual event. Through our relationship with EventsAIR, we were encouraged to go virtual. So, we gave ourselves an extra month and started planning a virtual summit.”
The first step involved finding exactly the right platform on which to host the event.
“We needed to be confident that we had the right platform,” Andy explains. “So, we researched the different platforms on offer. It was a competitive pitch and EventsAIR won because of their flexibility and extreme willingness to work with us, which we felt was especially important.”
Having selected the OnAIR virtual and hybrid event platform created by EventsAIR, MEI had to recruit speakers. Thanks to the support, training, and encouragement EventsAIR provided, MEI was able to recruit 55 speakers. This was no mean feat as many speakers were unsure of what to expect and what would be required of them, but the EventsAIR team and the OnAIR platform made it easy for them.
MEI also needed a strong AV production partner and the strong working relationship forged between EventsAIR and Giggabox was absolutely fundamental in making this event work.
“The overall experience working with EventsAIR was extremely good,” said Andy. “We loved the collaboration with the team in the UK. We always felt that they would try to do whatever we asked. Even when faced with the most demanding requests, their answer was always ‘yes, we will try to make that work’.”
MEI used all the OnAIR features on offer, which meant that they were able to run the entire conference from registration to wrap up on a single, secure, user-friendly platform.
The OnAIR solution made it possible for speakers from across the globe to address attendees on the challenges and opportunities presented by major events that are coming up in the next five years – just as they would have done at the physical conference, but with wider reach.
The event was very well supported with 1150 delegates representing over 600 event organizations from 70 countries attended the conference, and, by using OnAIR, MEI was able to put on 39 sessions across three days on two live-streamed channels.
“We had 1150 delegates registered. On average, we were looking at about a 150 to 200 delegates per session. Normally for our physical events, we would expect between 300 to 500 delegates, so we more than doubled the number of people that we could reach,” said Andy.
Speakers found the platform very comfortable, they relaxed into it. It was easy for them to share their experiences and chat to the moderators. The exhibitors were able to run 30-second ads to attract people to the exhibition stands. Delegates reported that it was great to log in and out as and when they liked.
The MEI team commended EventsAIR on the excellent support they provided. In particular, they valued the advice they received from the EventsAIR team, drawing on the wealth of experience EventsAIR has with virtual events.
“EventsAIR was exceptionally good. We have nothing but praise for the team. They were partners in the truest sense of the word. Everything that we asked them to do they were able to do,” said Andy. “There were a number of times when they actually went above and beyond the call of duty.”
The OnAIR feature the MEI team liked the most was the on-demand service that allows delegates to access all the sessions in their own time after the event. This ability to attend the sessions they missed during the live event or revisit talks that they particularly enjoyed, provided immense value that they would not get from a physical event.
“During the event, we were able to tell our delegates: ‘Don’t worry if you can’t listen to this session now, you can always access it later’. That was extremely valuable!” said Andy.
MEI will continue to use the OnAIR platform in the future as it allows them to offer both virtual and hybrid events.
“With OnAIR, when the environment changes, and we are able to meet in person again, we’ll be able to offer a hybrid conference experience. This will allow us to bring in a wider range of speakers, improve our reach and allow more people to join us. I definitely see us continuing to work with OnAIR,” said Andy.