How to Transform Your In-Person Conference to a Successful Virtual Experience

Damarley Robinson |

Attendee sitting at their home desk waiting for a virtual conference to beginThe year 2020 was like no other year. It completely changed how businesses carry out their operations. Susanna Spada, the Operations Project Manager at HLB, had spent several weeks planning one of HLB’s most important events for 2020, the Annual Tax and Advisory Conference. However, the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic required Susanna and the HLB team to quickly adapt their event strategies and pivot to a virtual event.

The team at HLB wanted the right technology solutions to streamline workflows and maximize the attendee impact. That is why they decided to get Aventri onboard to help them organize an online conference. This article shares insights into how Susanna and the HLB team worked with Aventri to host a virtual conference and how this collaboration helped HLB achieve their event goals.


Challenges Faced by HLB in 2020

HLB is a UK-based global network of independent advisory and accounting firms. HLB helps clients in over 160 countries and provides them a high-quality experience to operate and grow regionally, nationally, and globally. Every year, HLB organizes an annual conference where delegates from across the world meet. This conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest tax and advisory updates while discussing innovations and challenges in the field.

HLB Annual Tax and Advisory Conferences in SingaporeImage Source: HLB

For the 2020 conference, HLB had already planned to modify their format and add various new elements compared to the previous years. The slew of event cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic brought in more challenges, and HLB had to postpone their conference. After careful consideration, the HLB Operations team decided to switch from an in-person to a virtual event, but this decision also came with its own set of challenges.

For the virtual conference, not only did HLB have to explain the new format to the attendees, but they also had to rewrite the program format, update the content and identify new speakers. “Our objectives went from hosting pure business sessions with technical updates and social elements to delivering business sessions with empathy. We had to be there for our member firms, support them and their clients in these difficult times,” explains Susanna.

Collaboration Experience with Aventri

HLB made the jump to virtual through Aventri’s Virtual Event Platform. Aventri helped HLB stay within its budget range without compromising on the event delivery or the user experience. In addition, Aventri’s platform did not require users to own specific equipment or download a special software that helped enhance user experience. Price, ease of use, and accessibility were the three key factors that led HLB to choose Aventri.

Aventri’s Professional Services Team successfully onboarded HLB and carried out training to help HLB understand the new system within short deadlines. Aventri not only provided round-the-clock support but also went ahead and studied the type of audience and content for the event to understand their role in handling the event and building the platform. Besides, Aventri tackled any challenges that HLB faced during the event and went above and beyond to find solutions.

Aventri's virtual event presentation shown on laptop

Susanna mentions, “Aventri are the experts in the field and offered end-to-end services for our virtual event, so we felt assured that we were in good hands. Even on the day of the event, there were pre-event calls to make sure everyone was on the same page, and Aventri allocated an event support specialist for the entire live event, which was the strongest point in helping us deliver a successful conference.”

Achieving Event Goals

Aventri provided the platform to conduct a virtual conference and tools to capture data during the event  to measure its success. As a global network, HLB aimed at keeping the virtual conference engaging so that delegates from across the globe could share their stories to create a strong sense of community. The poll and chat functionalities provided through the virtual event platform promoted attendee engagement and helped build an online network of people. In addition, Aventri’s Event Registration platform helped HLB collect some critical elements of event performance during the live event.

Recommended Resource: Online event promotion requires strategic marketing and planning. Learn the best way to promote a virtual event that builds interest and engages attendees. Read our blog post: 5 Ways to Successfully Promote Your Virtual & Online Events.

Some of the notable goals and event statistics achieved through the event include:

  • 400 virtual event registrants and 76 countries represented by attendees and speakers
  • 77% conversion rate tracked by comparing the number of registrations received to the number of unique attendees
  • 50% increase in event attendance by pivoting to Aventri's Virtual Event Platform
  • 40+ virtual sessions available during the conference HLB typically receives an average of 200 delegates for their in-person conference. However, the jump to virtual helped them reach a wider audience and secure a whopping 50% increase in event attendance.

HLB also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the attendees of the conference. HLB has informed that the delegates were pleased with the content delivered through the Aventri platform. The HLB team is now gearing up for their next virtual event in collaboration with Aventri and has already started building the platform for it. Susanna firmly believes that the virtual conference has completely transformed how HLB connects to their clients, and the HLB motto of ‘Together We Make It Happen’ has never been stronger.

Lessons for Future Events

Although in-person events have a social and networking elements, virtual events can help you connect to a wider audience. With the growing number of webinars and video conferences taking place, it will be crucial to see how viewers respond. The HLB team is of the opinion that even after the in-person events resume, virtual events will remain for the foreseeable future.

You can also have a success story like HLB! As the business landscape keeps changing, pivot to virtual through Aventri’s Virtual Event Platform and take charge of your events. Aventri has successfully helped global businesses transform how they plan and execute their events and meetings and has helped them achieve virtual event success by tracking and improving their business objectives.

To learn more about virtual conference best practices, and organize your next online meeting, subscribe to the Aventri newsletter. In the meantime, please post any questions you may have in the comments section below. Do not hesitate to share this post.


Virtual events white paper

This Post was Written by Damarley Robinson

Damarley has worked at Aventri since 2019 as an SEO Analyst. He excels at leveraging the power of analytics and user feedback to create and sustain brand loyalty, boost visibility, and creates compelling web content that drives inbound traffic.

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