REDESIGNING THE 2020 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
In light of the current pandemic impacting our world right now, AORE is transitioning our in-person 2020 Annual Conference to a virtual setting...
The short version:
An in-person event with over 600 attendees from all different states is not only unlikely to be viable in October, many individuals will be in positions that either prevent or discourage them from attending a conference due to personal safety or finances. AORE is able to offer a quality virtual experience that allows for broader access, increased education opportunities, extensive vendor interactions and unique networking and social avenues. This is NOT just another Zoom webinar and we absolutely understand the importance of networking among our members and attendees. We hear you!
The long version:
An in-person event with over 600 attendees from all different states is not only unlikely to be viable in October, many individuals will be in positions that either prevent or discourage them from attending a conference due to personal safety or finances. After weeks of discussions around the current pandemic and the ripple effect it is having on our industry and our members, AOREs Board of Directors made the decision to transition the in-person annual conference and exhibit hall to a virtual setting. Our association and members play an important role helping people experience the outdoors safely in a variety of environments, especially now. Your continued expertise, education, support and networking are critical to your future. We know that and we can deliver that in our planned virtual conference.
At a time when travel, security, jobs and finances are an unknown, we look forward to providing an experience that is more accessible to more individuals. We are choosing this time to make the transition so we can properly develop the virtual experience, work with presenters and vendors to prepare for new delivery platforms and engagements, and help attendees plan for their own professional development expenses.
We are incredibly geeked about our virtual conference as it provides the outdoor community an even more inclusive event to come together as leaders in their field and demonstrate the strength of the outdoor industry.
AORE is able to offer a quality virtual experience that allows for:
This would be a great opportunity and something that if done right could allow more access to more people especially those that typically don't have the means or resources to attend some of this stuff.
In-person events cost attendees significantly more than virtual events due to travel, accommodation and extra dining expenses. A virtual event requires no travel, accommodation or extra dining expenses.
Defining a few days of an in-person conference and pulling individuals away from work and home commitments is a more difficult ask. Our virtual conference is structured in a way to allow for schedule flexibility and post-event access to recordings of sessions.
A virtual event does not require the best internet access for attendees to participate; dial-in numbers are available for those attendees interested in a lower-bandwidth or less technical experience.
INCREASED EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
I attended AORE the first time to learn more about the field of outdoor recreation. Overall, I found that the limiting factor was having to choose between so many great education sessions. I love the idea of having access to the recordings of sessions for a limited period after the conference and I would honestly pay for that level of access for those education sessions even in future years when the conference continues as an in-person event. Thank you for working to make this conference happen even in this trying time.
In-person events limit an attendees education options to wherever they can be - certainly no more than one place at one time. Virtual conferences allow for attendees to experience some sessions live on the schedule and still access recordings of missed sessions. In the past, a participant that attended each available session slot at an AORE Annual Conference would take in, at the most, about a dozen (12) education sessions. In a virtual setting, a participant could not only attend one session during each education slot, they can ALSO access every single other education session via recordings. We expect over 50 education sessions!
Traditionally, presenters must be able to attend an in-person conference; this limits options, diversity and accessibility. A virtual conference allows AORE to work with presenters in a variety of ways to bring their information and resources to the event without those limitations. There are many ways that professional development can be elevated from an online lecture to a more robust, interactive session. We are focused on providing a robust experience that caters to a variety of learning methods and leverages available technology in an intentional way.
An in-person conference is limited by rooms available and how many people can fit in each room. The cost of renting more rooms or more audiovisual equipment also prohibits typical events from having endless education opportunities. With virtual, we can setup the appropriate number of rooms and even add additional spaces on-demand for small group conversations, or BOFs (birds-of-a-feather sessions).
EXTENSIVE VENDOR INTERACTIONS
While exhibit hall hours are limited onsite for a variety of reasons, a virtual exhibit hall provides exhibitors and attendees with greater flexibility. Exhibitors can provide information and recordings without having to stay inside a booth for hours on end. They can also schedule and promote live engagement times and presentations as well as easily make one-on-one appointments.
For companies that historically have not exhibited due to the cost of travel and basic booth setup, a virtual exhibit hall opens the door for more flexible pricing options.
AND UNIQUE NETWORKING AND SOCIAL AVENUES
Thank you for taking the initiative and putting forth the effort to transition the conference to an online format. It sounds like it has the potential to still be quite interactive - which is WONDERFUL! This sounds like a great experience and I hope that other conferences are considering the same.
Casual conversations, random run-ins with attendees, hallway exchanges and shared dining experiences are one of the most appreciated, un-structured benefits of in-person events. We know we cannot replace those experiences - nor can we even plan very well for them in-person! We are confident we can provide a variety of virtual experiences that still allow for these serendipitous interactions.
In-person networking is very different for people based on many factors; virtual networking can often remove some barriers and limitations by more randomization of individuals or by intentional grouping of attendees to either mix them up or match them up.
Social events in-person can be costly and are limited in space and activities. With virtual social opportunities, we can provide a wider range of options for attendees, from entertainment to quiet conversation and everything in between.