In 2015 I worked on the production and organization of a series of educational events focused on hospital-acquired infections specifically for the Latin American market. We developed a whole strategy with particular attention to maximizing brand awareness and increasing revenues for the nonprofit organizer. Medical sponsors bought packages of multiple registrations and invited medical professionals to attend these educational events.
The climax of the program had to be a live event. This face-to-face event was explicitly designed to entice physicians who had been part of the program and had participated in the online activities to be part of the live congress. Each online session (both live and recorded), had more and more attendees. We reached over 3000 paying attendees per session connecting from all over Latin America. The combination of live lectures, simulations, and advisory group discussions made attendees excited about the new updates.
The sequence of the events was explicitly designed to create groups of learners engaged through various media. Our activities were, in fact, aimed at encouraging the participant to be a part of the live congress.
It worked. Not only did we achieved the goals we set, but because of our online and virtual learning, we built and retained our audience through the years. We also produced a new live congress that registered many attendees that were previously unknown and unreached.
The live congress is the only opportunity to recreate and sustain the community we built, and it cannot be replaced by online virtual learning only. As humans, we have always learned through experience and by imitating other people we consider experts. The “show-me-how” (constructivism*) is still the most effective pedagogical approach.
In conclusion, I’ve learned not to be afraid of online activities challenging live ones. They do not negatively impact live events. On the contrary, it is critical to invest in virtual education to build a brand that allows us to reach an almost infinite audience. This approach allows us to attract attendees to live events and retain them.
With this program, we created a community. Some attendees still reach out for dates of future updates and/or live events. It is too bad we did not grasp the value of our work when we had the opportunity and continued our exciting endeavor!
The multi-sensory experience we provided was indeed more stimulating than just a once a year gathering. If the organizer does not invest in online activities and regularly engages the attendees, he/she will lose their brand fidelity efforts to another more exciting and interactive event completely.
* “Constructivism is basically a theory — based on observation and scientific study — about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.”
By Davide Veglia