Virtualizing the biggest event of the year
BIO is a global trade association for the biotechnology sector dedicated to the creation of innovative solutions in healthcare, agriculture, and green energy. Attended by 18,000 biotech industry members, the annual BIO International Convention features 1,000 speakers and 150 breakout sessions that offer collaborative, educational, and networking opportunities.
Since 2015, BIO’s vice president of education Sarah Arth had used Hubb’s software to produce in-person events including BIO International. “In March, we realized that because of the pandemic we would have to pivot away from holding an on-site event,” said Arth.
With the attention of the world on the biotech industry, the pressure was high to have a quality experience and content. The logistical challenges for Arth and her conference planners were daunting, however. Transitioning to a virtual event required re-motivating almost 10,000 attendees to register, integrating with a host of new vendors, adapting content to a virtual environment, and ensuring a fireside chat with the nation’s most popular and respected infectious disease expert went off without a hitch. It also meant deploying and becoming proficient with virtual event software in a matter of a few weeks.
How do we deliver an immersive educational event, virtually?
“Our challenge was both simple and formidable. How do we create a virtual environment where attendees can consume content and engage with each other at the same time?” said Arth. “We talked with some our technology vendors about putting together such an event and all but one of them balked at the eight-week deadline.”
Since Hubb was already an established, trusted technology partner for producing in-person events, the BIO education team was not surprised by their response.
“When we talked to Hubb about taking BIO International either virtual or hybrid, they said ‘We have a solution. We can make that work for you,’” said Arth.
Vice President of Education at BIO
Teamwork and technology combine for a smooth transition.
“We were impressed with the capabilities of their software and could see that it was capable of helping us create the user experience we envisioned,” said Arth. Her team and conference contributors were already familiar with Hubb’s enterprise-level conference planning software, so adopting their virtual event platform promised to help ensure an easy pivot.
Intuitive navigation was key to creating an immersive educational experience, one that could be scaled for thousands of virtual attendees. “After seeing it in action, I would say that Hubb’s virtual event platform is leaps and bounds over a lot of the technology that we looked at,” said Arth.
It helped that BIO’s IT team was already familiar with the technology and personnel. “When our IT team looked under the hood of the Hubb platform, they did so having already worked with Hubb on several integrations with application management services (AMS),” said Arth.
This trust and familiarity created confidence in BIO’s ability to work fast and at scale. With such a large, global event to produce on a tight timeline, the tech-savvy conference planning team at BIO needed to be self-sufficient using Hubb’s virtual event software.
“To do our work fast enough, we needed to be able to make integrations and customizations in a streamlined manner. Hubb collaborated with us extensively, and this enabled us to go in and use the software to create a unique branding experience for the event,” said Arth.
More than just a technology vendor
“Hubb is definitely the best partner for us in this uncertain environment,” said Arth. “Putting BIO International together in eight weeks was a huge feat and Hubb’s willingness to essentially teach us how to produce a virtual event made the pivot away from an in-person conference much easier.”
The established relationship created a built-in level of trust, so when Hubb shared insight and experience from other virtual events, Arth could push forward with confidence. “Hubb was really invested in making sure that we were designing the best event we could in the tightest timeframe possible,” said Arth.
The result was overwhelming positive feedback from attendees. Because so much conference content was pre-recorded and available on the Hubb platform, speakers and attendees were free to interact even during sessions. Use of lobbies and the chat interface also helped to create the immersive feel Arth and her team sought.
“After a successful virtual BIO International, we did several more events with Hubb in 2020 and have plans for additional conferences in 2021,” said Arth.