TXF Sustainable Export Finance and Resilient Infrastructure 2021
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What was your objective in holding a virtual event, what were you looking to achieve?
Predominantly, it was to unite the leaders of the Export Finance market in discussion and debate around the critical global sustainability agenda. In holding the event virtually, our objective was transformed in line with the format: to more comprehensively include in the conversion those who may not be able to meet in person, because they are based in more remote parts of the world or do not have a travel budget.
A virtual event was also an ideal format for conveying the findings of two cutting edge research reports: one by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and one by TXF. It is easier for participants to follow this data when they can see it clearly and closely on their screen, as well as download it - and annotate as they are watching.
Topics wise, we were looking to generate a meaningful conversation on the hugely important subject of sustainability and how it should be embedded in the export finance sector going forward. This conversation would create buy-in from decision-makers, generate tangible outcomes and workable solutions for the industry as well as providing some useful case studies and best practices. There would have been an element of hypocrisy in generating significant numbers of air miles for all participants in order to discuss sustainability so our virtual event platform provided the perfect opportunity.
It was also an opportunity to gain new revenue from organisations with an interest in this topic and broaden our client base with forward-thinking contacts.
What challenges did you have to overcome and would you do anything differently in the future?
A significant challenge was the timing of the event, as we wanted it to be truly global but knowing that we wanted to keep it engaging we ended up running it during the CET time zone knowing that people around the world could have watched the content on demand if the live sessions were not suited for them. If we ran this again we would have probably split the sessions into two days and allow people to join the live aspect of the event by scheduling at different times (for Asian and North American audiences, for example).
We, like many other organisations running events, wanted to ensure that the interactivity of the platform was strong as we have always struggled to get clients to interact in a virtual environment. The inclusion of the networking roulette, as well as quick guide videos and lots of targeted pre-event communication, meant that we saw a boost in interactions for this event from similar ones we have carried out.
We also had issues with one or two speakers feeling uncomfortable using other web-based meeting tools to participate in their panels, so we worked with the Kujenga team to integrate an RTMP link to Zoom. It meant those speakers simply had to click onto a zoom meeting to contribute to their panel and helped our team in managing the speaker experience more broadly.
What was special about the way in which you prepared for and delivered your event?
If the objective of these awards is to reward virtual events specifically, then we believe this is a worthy winner for one key reason: it leveraged the virtual format to welcome a materially different audience and gave rise to the participation of communities who are not typically able to travel, but who actually have the most to gain or lose from the sustainability question. Virtual was an advantage for us and for this event, rather than being seen as a backup or last resort.
Related to this, we were also able to convert event attendees from one-off event participants to year-long members of a community, something which we feel is going to be critical for the long-term success of virtual events.
Moreover, an event on sustainability is also a fitting one for the virtual format in an era where conscious travel and careful consideration of which events will be physical and which will be virtual is paramount.
Based on client feedback and our own experience, we believe this event ran smoothly, represented our brand in a positive way and felt like a real step-up in our offering. We are proud of this event because we believe it has showcased the huge positives to come from running virtual events, even as the world will start to return to some sort of normality. It has broadened our database, increased our international reach, diversified our audience, and signalled to the Export finance market that we take sustainability seriously.
How did you measure success?
The feedback and general performance of the event exceeded our expectations. Our audience was ready for a meaningful opportunity to discuss sustainability in the sector, as well as show their brand support for such conversations through sponsorships and speaking roles both before, during, and after the event. The fact that this event was hosted online also removed the possibility of accusations of hypocrisy for clients and our team travelling via plane to another city to discuss sustainability, which carried a lot of weight with senior leaders in the industry. We welcomed more than 400 digital registrations and generated a conversion rate of 70% attendance (excluding On-Demand viewing which is still ongoing), with 850 private conversations taking place during the week of the event.
Finally, 400 virtual meetings were arranged on our virtual event platform between different sponsors, speakers and participants. 44 speakers covered various different topics across the 8 hours that the event took place which many online participants took part of through our chat functionality, Q&A and interactive sessions.
How did you reach your audience?
As this was a new event in our portfolio and a critically important topic to the future of the industry, our initial aim was to attract our existing client base which includes financial institutions, law firms, insurance companies and corporates from around the global and bring them together to discuss how to achieve sustainable export finance. As such, our commercial directors reached out to our existing sponsor clients to promote this virtual event to them and build this event into their annual global sponsorship deal.
Our marketing team promoted this virtual event to our database through email marketing but we also worked on a strong LinkedIn campaign to ensure this is promoted to other people outside of our typical network. We worked particularly hard on creating a strong brand for the event, emphasising the core topic areas to boost its appeal. Finally, we established a media partnership with a French organisation who promoted to their client base through their channels.
We also promoted the event on our export finance membership portal, which we had recently launched, to our existing membership base.
What platform(s) did you use?
We used Kujenga, a platform which we had initially built ourselves to meet the needs of event organisers from the perspective of... event organisers! Although Kujenga is now managed and operated independently, the background is important in our selection of the platform because we think a virtual event platform has to put the ‘event’ before the ‘virtual’. Too often we find platforms are great on the virtual/tech experience but lacking on the event experience, which is ultimately what we feel defines the users’ experience.
What particularly appealed to us was the ease in which users could navigate the content and networking on the platform. The guestlist was easy to navigate, providing ample opportunities to interact via chat or video calling. We had the ability to completely customise the site, promote other upcoming events or our other services, as well as have smart sponsor pages with branded meeting rooms.
There was also a fun ‘Networking Roulette’ feature which we used for our final networking break, where guests could switch into different conversations repeatedly. We found there was a great uptake of this and people enjoyed the variety it brought.
Finally, we also built a ‘membership portal’, which has fundamentally changed our entire revenue generation structure. Rather than simply adopting a platform for isolated one-off events, this platform enables us to build a more meaningful community hub for our members, tying in all our virtual events, as well as promoting our other services such as editorial, data, and research.