Our Bricsys® 2020 conference was drawing closer, the date was set, the venue was booked and the Save The Date emails were ready to be sent. We'd never been this ahead of schedule before! I guess everything was just too good to be true because a few weeks later, COVID-19 completely changed our plans.
The Bricsys annual conference is the event of the year for the Bricsys team. Hosted a different location each year, it brings CAD and engineering professionals together. It's an opportunity for the Bricsys team to showcase the latest BricsCAD® and Bricsys® 24/7 innovations, meet users and colleagues from around the globe, and learn about the latest developments from our partners.
Finding a way to connect with our partners and customers in the same way, through a digital event, was a challenge, but I believe, when we broadcast live on 27th October, the results will speak for themselves.
This is how we turned our physical conference into a virtual opportunity for 2020.
Why go digital?
Nobody knew how long this pandemic would last so we decided, quite early on, to postpone our annual Bricsys conference to 2021. We did however, still need a way to connect with our partners and customers. Skipping a year was simply not an option. So, transforming this year's event into a digital conference was the ideal solution.
Days later we saw thousands of companies changing their marketing strategy: webinars, virtual meetings and virtual booths were popping up everywhere. For us, it became a great opportunity to learn. By watching how other companies went digital, we could get an idea of what we wanted and what we wanted to avoid.
Finding the right partner
We at Bricsys specialize in developing high-quality CAD software, not in hosting digital events. For this reason, we chose to hire an AV partner: Play AV. This took away our 'technical' stress and instead gave us the chance to focus on the content. And, boy do we have a lot of great stuff in store for you!
First rehearsal at the studio -- getting ready for October 27!
Opportunities & struggles
A digital event has its positives and negatives. With a digital event, we can reach a wider audience, all around the world. People can watch it on-demand, there is no struggle with plane tickets, hotel bookings, jet lag etc. However, the organization of a digital summit is much more time-consuming than a physical event (fitting 2 days in 4 hours is not that easy).
As going digital was new for all of us, a lot of questions popped up, such as:
- How long will the digital summit be?
- What are our main goals, which topics do people need to see?
- Will we go live or prerecord everything?
- What time should we broadcast to cover as many time zones a possible?
- What platform will we use to stream the event?
- How can we engage with the attendees?
- How can we work with speakers living abroad safely?
- The list goes on...
Aryna and ??? I think we've seen his face before?. On set for the dress rehearsal.
My personal motto is always to Keep It Simple. During the first brainstorming sessions, the team had so many creative & fun ideas: competitions, quizzes, acts during the breaks... I cannot tell you how many times we changed the concept.
Yes, we want to deliver a professional event, but we also didn't want to make it too boring or too complex. I believe that the balance we found it just right!
Social distancing and staff safety
Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and those involved in this year's summit was at the forefront of our planning.
The studio is large enough, to allow us to respect the social distancing and local COVID-19 regulations. Additionally, we made sure that only essential staff were present on set.
Being a global company, we are filming the majority of the conference from a studio close to the Bricsys' HQ in Ghent, Belgium. However, we have also set up studios local to our UK, and Russian offices and our US colleagues will be filming from home, to minimize travel.
What's the takeaway?
I think that digital events are the 'new normal' and I can't imagine a future without virtual events and meetings. For us, it is a been big challenge to get this far. However, we love the opportunity it has given us to reach so many more people this year. We are super excited to see how our first digital summit goes on 27th October and I hope you are too!
That being said, I believe that there is no replacement for the networking & social contact you get at a physical event. So, maybe next year, we can take what we've learnt and combine the two. Let's wait and see!