Fast Transition to a Virtual Meeting Yields Educational and Financial Success
Using the resources of the AMC model, AMPED staff are able to pivot and learn quickly to support our client organizations in times of crisis and change. In the example below, the AMPED team paved the way and cleared many hurdles toward transitioning to a virtual meeting environment, sharing successes and challenges with other AMPED teammates along the way.
American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) - Spring 2020
The original American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) Annual Meeting was originally planned for April 3-7, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Westin Charlotte. At the time the decision was made to fully cancel the in-person meeting, there were 542 registrations and $30,000 in sponsorships.
As part of the decision process, the AMPED team worked very closely with the AAAA Board and hotel to present with three different scenarios:
- Reschedule the meeting to the Fall of 2020 or Spring of 2021 at the Westin Charlotte
- A hybrid meeting approach – using a combination of Marriott brand hotels in centralized locations to deliver meeting content
- Complete meeting cancellation using the Impossibility/Force Majeure clause
It was vital that AMPED and AAAA move quickly with back-up plans as the meeting was CME-accredited and the attendees needed to submit their credits to renew their medical licenses by June.
On March 14, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order that outlined a ban on mass gatherings, allowing AAAA to claim force majeure and cancel the hotel contract without penalty. Our team worked closely with all stakeholders to determine the right timing to cancel the meeting and how to communicate that with members/attendees. Further, pressure was felt from the AAAA member community, continuing news coverage about the pandemic, and the significant financial impact we would face from cancellation fees with the hotel.
Meanwhile, the AMPED team was preparing to “go virtual” and weighing platform options by participating in demonstrations from virtual learning companies like Digitell, Matchbox and Zoom. It was important to AAAA that the chosen platform:
- Have an easy to use interface/platform
- Be able to facilitate the distribution of presentations in order to qualify for CME credits
- Include some interactivity for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees.
Our team recommended that the AAAA Board invest in Digitell: They hit all of our must-haves, their team of technicians would be able to supplement our staff team on delivery, they had great confidence in putting the virtual meeting together on a fast-tracked timeline and the total investment enabled us to break even at a minimum.
The Board quickly approved AMPED's recommendation and staff moved forward to develop the meeting with the Digitell team. In tandem, we worked very quickly with the AAAA Program Committee to prep the previously secured speakers to deliver their content virtually, as well as replace a handful that needed to cancel.
Behind the scenes, our team also refunded all of the original registration fees to the in-person meeting registrants. It was important to AAAA that the original fees be refunded and a lower fee be collected for the virtual meeting.
After canceling the original meeting on March 15, registration for the virtual meeting on the new platform went live on March 23. Fees were $175 (fellows) and $35 (students). We budgeted $15,000 in revenue for the virtual meeting. We surpassed that goal, taking in $60,000 by the start of the live meeting. Additional income was made from on-demand content offered through early June.
A few results from the AAAA virtual meeting that kicked off on April 18:
- Over four days, we scheduled a combination of sessions, including live panels and recorded presentations with speakers (some that included live Q&A).
- Following the presentation, sessions were archived on the AAAA website for on-demand viewing through June 10.
- AAAA was approved for 24.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) — 4.5 more than what are typically offered at an in-person meeting
- The chat was active for all sessions and was been very lively with many questions and supportive/positive comments for speakers
- Additional functionality included an exhibitor/sponsor area, association information, technical support, and instructions on how to donate to AAAA's legislative fund.
The virtual meeting (non including on-demand content) brought in $47,250 in net income for AAAA — 28 times higher than the net income budgeted for the original in-person meeting!
- Average number of attendees per session: 150
- Number of recorded sessions with a live speaker answering questions: 14 of 18
- All sessions were packaged as enduring content with a shelf life of 3 years
- $6,500 raised in donations during the event
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