Sustaining the commitment to continuing education
Like a lot of conference planners, Michael Wilson had a problem in 2020. He needed to quickly create an immersive experience and provide accredited learning so that the people who care for our pets could gather and keep their continuing education on track.
“Our convention is focused on making sure we can address the continuing education requirements of our members who need to maintain their state licenses to practice veterinary medicine.”
Director of Conventions and Meeting Planning
Dedicated to providing educational accreditation and certification programs that protect and elevate the quality of veterinary care, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers its members a wide range of opportunities for professional development. As Division Director for Convention and Meeting Planning for the AVMA, Wilson is responsible for all of their continuing education offerings.
The annual AVMA Convention is the organization’s flagship event, offering best-in-class continuing education that includes lectures, workshops, panels, and even hands-on labs taught by experts in veterinary medicine. Members rely on the annual event for the chance to earn up to 21 continuing education credits.
Creating an engaging virtual learning experience
When a global pandemic turned the association conference planning and its curriculum upside down, Wilson chose Hubb and its leading-edge virtual event software to help transform the AVMA’s in-person, four-day event into an impactful virtual experience. “We pretty much transitioned the majority of our convention into a virtual world,” said Wilson.
The lobby gave more of a feel of actually being at a convention than people expected and that created engagement at the outset of the event."
The immersive experience began with a custom lobby. “As attendees logged on to the platform, it really felt like they were entering into and walking around a convention center,” said Wilson. “The lobby gave more of a feel of actually being at a convention than people expected and that created engagement at the outset of the event.”
“Our members also loved the fact that when they were in a pre-recorded session, the platform enabled speakers in each session to answer questions in a chat box without interrupting the presentation,” said Wilson. “I think our attendees really enjoyed that opportunity to have those questions asked and answered while the presentation was paused.”
Making meaningful connections from a safe distance
Wilson also recognized the vital importance of attendees making personal connections, hearing from prominent experts, and discovering the latest innovations. This meant virtually recreating evening social events attendees look forward to each year.
“On the first night, we held a social reception called Live Life Love All, which is a diversity and inclusion event,” said Wilson. “We also had a lip-sync battle competition, held our annual concert, and found a way to stage a battle of the bands in three different musical genres.”
While concerts and competitions presented challenges for the conference planners, a virtual event offered the opportunity to expand the number of keynote addresses from one to three, including a popular presentation from the now world-famous Dr. Anthony Fauci. “That was a real treat for us,” said Wilson. “Hubb’s conference planning software also made it possible to incorporate an exhibit hall into the virtual environment, so our top exhibitors could still showcase their innovations and have one-on-one chats with attendees.”
Wilson was even able to use the Hubb virtual event platform to recreate a traditional convention activity. “We have a game called Vet Adventures that we were able to incorporate into the platform,” said Wilson. “Attendees earned reward points by doing everything from commenting on a session to attending a virtual yoga class. Between that and the platform’s social media components, we definitely created a lot of engagement.”
Creating more engagement, for more members
“We had modest goals for the virtual version of the AVMA Convention,” said Wilson. “We went in expecting around 2,200 and ended up with 4,400 attending the event.” As the first virtual AVMA event unfolded, Wilson’s team worked closely with Hubb to ensure a smooth rollout and eliminate disruptions to the user experience. “Their team was both friendly and helpful,” said Wilson. “I think we are a very unique convention and Hubb had people ready to assist us as things came up during the event.”
Engagement continues to be the primary metric for success for the AVMA Convention. Hubb’s virtual event platform enabled visually impactful and immersive experiences for attendees and its ease of use proved equally crucial for meeting event goals. “Hubb, for what we needed, definitely worked for us,” said Wilson.