The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) is a US-based national trade association dedicated to serving the property/casualty industry, mostly focused in the mutual space. NAMIC provides advocacy, support, educational events, products, and services to more than 1400 member companies.
The challenge for NAMIC was to find a way for its members to continue to connect in the manner that they normally would at in-person events, after the global travel and meeting restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic rendered face-to-face events impossible.
“My team is completely focused on the events industry,” said Crista Hassett, Vice President of Event Operations at NAMIC. “So, we have been working to find ways that we can bring our members together, and still provide them with really valuable content. To achieve this, we had to move into the virtual space, which meant that we had to adapt, learn, and grow. But it also opened up opportunities to really capture and tap into new audiences that we were unable to reach before because they were limited by travel, budget or other restrictions. We are excited about the opportunities that virtual events have presented.”
In April 2020, after researching a number of events solutions, NAMIC had just started to implement the EventsAIR system, which they planned to use for all their events, when the COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting in-person events came into effect.
“When we learned that EventsAIR were launching the OnAIR virtual and hybrid event solution, we were extremely excited because it meant we did not have to go out in search of another solution,” said Crista. “We immediately started learning how to use the system so that when OnAIR launched we were able to start utilizing it right away.”
The first virtual event on the agenda was the NAMIC Management Conference on June 29th, which meant that the team had three weeks to get everything set up. They approached and managed the process according to the same project timeline they use for their in-person events.
“Our logistics and technical teams focused on getting all of our session information loaded into the system and reviewing it all; while our marketing team spread the word about the event and educated our attendees on what that virtual experience entailed,” said Crista.
The NAMIC team spent time learning and getting comfortable with the system and conducted three to four tests per week leading up to the event to ensure that they were fully prepared.
The Management Conference is one of NAMIC’s foremost executive events, attended by its premier audience, and it was vital that everything ran flawlessly.
“It was our first launch into the virtual events world, and we had a lot riding on it,” said Crista. “Thanks to EventsAIR and the OnAIR platform, we had a wonderful experience. All of our sessions ran as planned, all of our networking functions operated correctly, and the people in the networking breaks really enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and connect virtually. Our sponsors were able to host virtual exhibitions and connect with attendees. Overall, our event was really top-notch and delivered a really professional experience, so we were pleased.”
The NAMIC Management Conference had 158 registered attendees and 21 speakers. The event included a variety of networking opportunities between sessions as well as a virtual exhibition marketplace for sponsors.
“We had a lot of different types of sessions, including live sessions as well as pre-recorded sessions that we loaded into the system,” said Crista. “We also brought in our speakers and committee members live throughout the event.”
With so many people feeling isolated due to physical events being cancelled, attendees welcomed the opportunity to have face-to-face video chats and networking sessions during the event.
“The networking sessions allowed delegates to appear onscreen and interact with other attendees,” said Crista. “It added a bit of a fun element, but it also served a really important business purpose – fulfilling the need to connect that so many of us are experiencing right now.”
The feedback that NAMIC received from attendees and sponsors was very positive.
“The event had what we call ‘that NAMIC feel’,” said Crista, “meaning that it delivered the signature NAMIC experience because we were able to have personalisation. Through the OnAIR platform, we were able to display the NAMIC branding, and attendees could see and connect with all of the faces that they are used to seeing at an in-person event, including our CEO. Our attendees recognised and appreciated these aspects. They were still able to make some valuable connections and felt that we had offered them the best possible alternative to a live event.”
The EventsAIR team was very supportive throughout the planning, set-up and running of the event.
“The EventsAIR team was phenomenal,” said Crista. “Our customer success representative, in particular, went above and beyond. It really felt like he was working to make sure our event went off without a hitch, and that was really appreciated.”
“Thirteen in-person NAMIC events were cancelled due to COVID. Following the success of this first one, we will definitely be offering the remaining 12 as virtual events and we’ll be using OnAIR for all of them. They encompass a lot of different audiences, and we’re really excited to see the different virtual experiences made possible by the OnAIR platform.”
“We anticipate that, moving forward into 2021, if we are able to get back out there in person, the events world is going to look very different. We want to be as flexible as possible and provide as many options as we can for our attendees, recognising that people are on all different ends of the spectrum, when it comes to their plans for future travel, and future participation in large gatherings. So, we will be offering hybrid events and utilizing OnAIR for them as well.”
Crista Hassett, Vice President, Event Operations, at National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC)