What happens when event registration uptake is far lower than the client’s expectations?

ODV Blog February 2023 What happens when registration uptake is lower than expected

Having over 20 years of trading under our belts, we are not fazed by any unusual requests or last-minute changes. Challenges are expected and solutions are found, and often this is when you will see us working at our very best!

In 2022 the representative of the Family Law Bar Association organising committee approached OD&V partner MeetCambridge in their search for the perfect Cambridge venue for their annual, member-only conference. After the initial introduction, the OD&V team came on board to support the client in all aspects of the event planning and delivery, from delegate registration to post-event financial reconciliation.

The Auditorium at Fitzwilliam College was booked for 150, followed by 3-course gala dinner for 100 guests in the Grand Dining Hall of St John's College. The conference was put in the diary for November 2022 as a hybrid event, to be live-streamed via a designated platform managed by VenuIQ and supported on the ground by a local audio-visual team, VenueAV. Having worked with both of these companies previously, we felt confident that the perfect solution was being proposed, enabling association members to attend in person or virtually, to suit their schedules.

However, the project faced numerous challenges early on, culminating in a 2-month postponement.

Although planning started in plenty of time, industrial action across the country, including rail and tube strikes, began to affect in-person delegate and exhibitor numbers.  Conference fatigue at that time of the year was also identified as a factor contributing to the reduced levels of enthusiasm for the conference. After reviewing the low uptake on registrations and guided by the detailed financial reports prepared by OD&V, the potential losses on the overall project based on existing supplier contracts, forced a strategic decision in October 2022 to postpone the event until January 2023. #FLBACONF22in23 was born!

Madalina, the conference Project Manager, began supplier negotiations and started the whole process of rescheduling, aided by existing relationships with the majority of the partners involved. Members already registered for the original November conference were kept informed and their registrations transferred on request to the new date. Full refunds were also handled by the project team, however, the hybrid nature of the event encouraged transfers to virtual attendance.

The conference included an in-person and a virtual exhibitor area, via the virtual platform. All the recorded content remained live online for 3 months post-event for registered delegates to access, rewatch and download information. An additional benefit to delegates is that the virtual platform used created a hub for all to connect and engage with their peers.

Katharine Bundell (4pb chambers) and organiser of the 2022/2023 Family Law Bar Association Hybrid Conference  said;

“The Team at OD&V, headed up by Madalina and Celia, were a great support and invaluable resource for us, full of good ideas and helpful advice. We managed the first hybrid conference, at their suggestion, which felt very inclusive with delegates from around England and Wales, those with caring responsibilities, suspected COVID cases and those with last-minute high workloads. This also reduced cancellations as delegates were able to move seamlessly from in-person to remote attendance. The IT platform worked very well indeed and their preparation for this was calm and skilled.  They were invaluable in taking the decision to adjourn the conference which was a significant step to take and could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn't. They are easy to work with, respectful and always engaged. I would not hesitate to recommend them and we definitely could not have staged the conference that we did without them.”


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