Rated the conference ‘Excellent’
With over 200 farm attraction operator members and over 100 trade supplier members, the National Farm Attractions Network (NFAN) unites the farm and rural attraction industry.
At Agility we look after all the marketing, events and back end function for NFAN, which includes a 3-day Annual Conference, the Association’s AGM and a Trade Exhibition every January. Usually well attended with 2019 being our best Conference ever with 220 delegates and over 100 trade stands.
We knew we couldn’t host an actual face to face event due to COVID Restrictions and that the only route was online.
The conference is a cornerstone event for NFAN, one of the key reasons to become a Member and it offers a chance for members to grow their network, share ideas, have fun, and be inspired. We needed to include these components in an online event.
We also need to identify whether there was thirst for an online trade exhibition.
After hosting and promoting a successful “Reopening your Attraction” virtual event in Summer 2020 for NFAN, we were confident we could take the Annual Conference online and still enable the sharing of ideas, be inspirational and fun.
The Format: We hosted the event on the Hopin platform, which is purpose built for virtual events. It allowed us to include a main stage area for the conference talks and AGM, a chat facility to take questions or polls and speed networking (a bit like speed dating) to allow fellow operators and trade members still to meet each other. The event finale was a Zoom bar to enable more free flow discussions and debate to continue. The event ran for 4 hours in total, with the individual components being shorter to keep delegates interested.
Identifying a need for a trade exhibition: A survey and Zoom call amongst trade members overwhelmingly highlighted that trade members would rather wait for a face to face event, than opt for a trade exhibition. The decision was made, therefore, to instead offer a face to face trade exhibition at the first face to face networking event instead. The Trade Members, however, were invited to join in with every aspect of the virtual event.
Charging for the event: Whilst NFAN normally charge a ticket price for the Annual Conference, we made the virtual Conference free of charge for both farm and trade members, to add value to their membership and to aid member retention. To cover the cost of the event we secured Gold and Silver sponsors.
In exchange for their sponsorship, sponsors would have logos included in all of the communications surrounding the event, such as emails and holding screens, and would also be mentioned by the speaker on the night. Gold Sponsors would additionally have 30 second videos showcased on the night between talks.
The Marketing: We pre-promoted the event heavily to members using Facebook and email marketing, showcasing the fantastic programme of speakers and topics with panel discussions, plus the chance to virtually network with other members on the night and join the Zoom Bar after the event.
In addition, we included the event in Network News; the association’s magazine we write and create for them.
Hosting the event: On the night we hosted the ‘backstage’ areas of the virtual platform and supported the speakers with their presentations and timings, dealt with tech issues at the virtual ‘help desk’ and encouraged engagement in the event chat.
We also kept attendees informed about what was happening and what was coming up with holding screens and messages.
Finally, we ran the AGM virtually towards the end of the event, providing polls and prompts for proposers and seconders.
Gathering feedback: After the event we sent out follow up surveys to gauge member feedback and edited the content of the event into videos which we shared with all those who signed up.
- 79% of members registered
- 90.6% audience retention
- 85% thought the conference was excellent.
- Great engagement with 319 guest comments on the night.
- 268 networking meetings