INCON BEST PRACTICE CASE STUDY: MCI GROUP
‘Increasing attendance by 320% by switching over to digital’
‘World Association for Buiatrics (WBC)
BY INCON PARTNER: MCI GROUP
The 29th congress of the World Association for Buiatrics (WBC) took place in Dublin from the 3rd to the 8th of July 2016. The biennial congress had seen attendance drop from over 2,000 in 2012 to just under 1,000 in 2014.
With a record low attendance at the 2014 congress, the Local Organising Committee knew a plan was required to reinvigorate both the congress and the association. In 2016 the congress saw a 320% increase in attendance achieved through innovative digital solutions and promotional digital campaigns.
WHAT IS WBC?
The World Association for Buiatrics hosted the World Buiatrics Congress(WBC) 2016 in Dublin, from the 3rd to 8th July 2016.
Buiatrics is the study of cattle and their diseases. The World Buiatrics Congress is recognised as the 'Olympic Games of conferences' for the cattle industry. The congress is the official gathering of the World Association of Buiatrics, of which Veterinary Ireland is a member organisation.
Since its inception in 1960 the WBC congress is held in a different part of the world once every 2 years and has an average attendance of 2,500-3,000 delegates each Congress.
MCI GROUP’S SOLUTIONS
In an age of digital tactics, sending out printed invitations once every couple of years to the membership was no longer working. A digital switchover was identified as necessary, but needed to be implemented without alienating the association’s traditional core audience.
To successfully switchover, the WBC needed to:
reach new markets to attract potential new delegates
determine attendance numbers to appoint budgets
update its database to its 2016 target market
One solution was to review abstract submission numbers which would give a clearer indication of the final attendance. The committee therefore, needed the right technological systems and digital solutions to host and collect this content. In order to reach new markets and increase the numbers of new potential delegates, advertising also needed to move away from traditional print to digital media.
With that mandate, MCI Dublin put in place a global digital marketing strategy, creating a WBC brand personality and a genuine community online through humour and good content. This resulted in running innovative and fun campaigns such as the #CowSelfiecompetition which saw 100 entries from all around the world generating engagement.
Over the course of 12 months a successful record number of abstracts were submitted, the database tripled in size, social media followers came to the association in droves with the #WBC2016 hashtag, receiving 11.3 million impressions on Twitter alone, while the Facebook page received over 100,000 interactions.
Digital media partnerships were also created to expand the WBC’s online presence. A record 3,198 delegatesregistered for WBC 2016 an increase of more than 320% compared to the previous congress in 2014.
Additionally, all elements of the event expected to have a negative impact on the environment were stripped back and replaced with digital alternatives:
digital distribution of the abstract book
a Congress app with 100,000 views accompanied with a printed pocket programme guide replaced the full printed version
physical delegate bag inserts were replaced with banner adverts on the app wherever possible
an initiative to actively encourage the use of the Convention Centre’s ingrained policies and infrastructure as well as increasing the use of public transport, helped to produce the most environmentally sustainable congress in the association’s history
The event received an 89% satisfaction rate from the delegates in Dublin, with crucial elements such as onsite registration being rated 'very good – excellent' by 97% of attendees.
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