Taking the ASIS Europe Event online
Re-creating an excellent educational and knowledge sharing experience
in a brand-new resilient format
After a major redesign in 2017 (learn more here), the ASIS Europe – From Risk to Resilience event has been going from strength to strength. The spring 2020 edition planned in Prague was all set to be the best yet, until it inevitably had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the crisis deepened, it became clear that the 2021 edition would need to be online, so the efforts focused on how to make that format true to the event’s reputation as a vital gathering for established and aspiring security leaders across Europe and beyond.
Since 2018, sessions had been recorded to provide on demand content, however, the event was entirely focused around 3-days in person, onsite.
When it came to creating a valuable online event in Q1/2 of 2021, it was essential to consider that the core attendance (senior security, crisis management and risk management professionals in large corporations) were not just unable to travel but were also playing critical roles for their companies throughout the extended pandemic crisis – hence the content had to be worthwhile, and the format needed to be flexible.
Added to that, the event needed a new business model which would carefully manage ASIS’ financial risk and was taking place at a time when there was a vast amount of online content being generated and numerous online events of varying quality from other organisers.
Both the ASIS Headquarters and Exempla teams had been active creating online content plus organising and attending many online events as soon as the crisis took hold. Collectively we used all these lessons learned, together with our knowledge of the core audience and the insights of volunteer leaders to make a series of bold decisions that laid the foundations for success.
Developing a series of scenarios was key – especially considering how incredibly uncertain the outlook was in the timeframe decisions had to be taken – October/November 2020.
The first key element was jumping out of the “comfort zone” of the traditional event format. Given the workload of the attendees and the timeframe to put top quality educational content together, there was no way that packing in 2.5 solid days of online event in one go would be the right way forward.
Exempla’s partnership in developing this program was second to none. Their attention to content detail and connection across the security profession ensured success from the beginning.
And, even more importantly, they were able to gain the trust of our members to join us on the journey and embrace the new format.
Peter J. O’Neil, FASAE, CAE,
Chief Executive Officer,
Combined with an excellent, collaborative and constructive working group facilitated by Exempla as the main event organising team, plus ASIS Headquarters staff and volunteer leaders, this experimental mindset allowed a completely new format to be created with buy-in from all sides.
The scenario building exercises allowed us to move further and further away from the “usual” format to spread the event across 4 online half-day sessions plus a small onsite gathering (hoped for, but unfortunately could not proceed).
Despite how far this format went into new territory, the collaborative process left everyone confident of the decisions taken – in both the interests of ASIS, its members and partners.
The event design had very specific value propositions for both delegates and sponsors.
To bring the delegate experience to a level appropriate for ASIS Europe’s reputation and senior audience, the programme included live Q&A with expert facilitation, interactive workshops, discussion groups, speed dating, and a virtual pub quiz. This event needed to be about content and connections. We were delighted to see how much delegates appreciated the efforts to capture the value they knew from the onsite events in this new format.
For sponsors, we maximised the online event tools for both audience engagement and content delivery. The content driven sponsorships based around innovation and thought leadership (not sales pitches) were especially effective in generating ROI – we were able to leverage all the ideas outlined in our e-guide to creating effective online sponsorships.
Success would not have been possible were it not for the commitment of the amazing ASIS International community. In particular, speakers went the extra mile – not just preparing their presentations but also taking time for the tech-checks and rehearsals.
The volunteers who had worked through the event design process also took up a key role as hosts and facilitators on the live days – their “inside knowledge” on what the event was about was vital to bridging the concept and operations to the delegate experience for their peers.
With several weeks between each event in the series, there was time to debrief and tweak the event format so there was continuous learning and improvement of the participant experience.
In total, the event series had 1,000+ registrants, 70+ speakers, 97 educational sessions, and 18 sponsors, exhibitors and partners. The event also achieved ASIS’ budget goals.
Therefore, despite the radical format change, the ASIS Europe event’s reputation as a vital gathering and knowledge exchange platform stayed intact, the community stayed connected and ASIS gained a great new content library of regionally relevant insights.
The next event will be a hybrid format – an in-person event in Prague on 22-24 May 2022 focused on discussion, debate, collaborative learning and lots of overdue networking time, supplemented by two online events in March and April, providing maximum accessibility to ASIS’ exceptional educational content.
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