Pri-Med Canada is the flagship conference and trade show of Diversified Communications ULC; the Canadian division of global media company, Diversified Communications.
The Person Behind the Magic
Laine Vella is the Event Manager for Pri-Med Canada. Like any other planner, Laine wears multiple hats and covers a lot of responsibilities,
including operations, event marketing, budgeting, on-site event management, and of course, the conference app.
Diversified Communications ULC organizes numerous events throughout the year, with their largest being Pri-Med Canada, an annual medical conference and exposition held every spring. Pri-Med Canada is one of the largest of its kind in Canada. The organization partners with the University of Toronto to deliver three days of continuing medical education for primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.
What Were Pri-Med’s Event Goals?
The overall event goals for the Pri-Med Canada Conference were to:
- Increase community interaction
- Attendee engagement
To accomplish these goals, Pri-Med’s Event Manager, Laine Vella, and her team were committed to building and launching a new event app that would optimize the attendee experience, particularly during event registration. Laine said, “We wanted to provide our attendees with a simple and user-friendly app experience, where they could find the information and interactive tools they needed, all in one convenient location. We really wanted to increase attendee engagement. Having the personalized agenda pre-populated with data gathered during the event registration stage, and the polling and survey features all in one easy tool, was the most important part to us. So, ultimately that’s why we decided to go with EventMobi.”
What Was It Like Before Event Mobi?
Before investing in an event app, Pri-Med Canada used a mobile-friendly website where attendees could access event content. Unfortunately, it lacked the flexibility and functionality that an event app offered.
“It was just a website, so it wasn’t very interactive and it was a hassle having to use several different event technology apps, like for emailing surveys, polls, etc. We were using many different tools for every event.”– Laine Vella
How Did Pri-Med Use An Event App to Achieve Their Event Goals?
Event Registration Integration Capabilities
The biggest challenge Pri-Med faced when incorporating new event tech was ensuring smooth integration with their registration system. This was one of their major decision-making factors. Before deciding to purchase EventMobi’s event app solution, Laine coordinated with her registration provider to test the API to ensure it would work.
“We wanted to continue to use our own custom event registration system. So, anything new we brought on needed to be compatible. It was great that we were able to still use our own system and push all the registrant data into the event app.”– Laine Vella
How the Event Registration Integration Worked
Event registration opened four months in advance of the live event. The goal was to release the event app a few weeks before the event so that it could be promoted during the pre-event marketing communications to registrants.
While the front end of the event app was being designed, information submitted during the event registration process, such as personal details and session selections, was transferred into the event app’s backend. And if registration took place on-site during the event, the information was quickly pushed into the event app and seamlessly updated.
“It was very important that when attendees logged into the event app, their profiles were pre-populated with their information so that they didn’t have to choose their sessions again or re-submit personal details like dietary restrictions.”– Laine Vella
In addition to their annual conference, Pri-Med Canada holds many other events throughout the
year for healthcare professionals. EventMobi’s multi-event app allowed attendees to stay informed about all of Pri-Med Canada’s events and sign up once event registration opened.
Additionally, content such as the agenda and scheduling changes were accessible for the event through the same app. This meant that attendees only needed to download a single app versus a new app for every event.
Due to the restrictions within the healthcare industry related to promoting specific products or companies, Pri-Med was unable to take advantage of display and banner ad options within the event app. Instead, the team leveraged push notifications to make real-time live announcements that prompted attendees to visit the exhibitor hall to check out vendor booths. This feature also worked well to promote “learning lounges” where attendees could speak to industry experts.
They also created a communication plan for prescheduled announcements that were loaded into the event app prior to the start of the event. Action-focused messages such as, “Don’t forget to complete your session evaluations,” or reminders like, “The keynote’s about to begin in Lecture Hall One” were included. Being able to pre-schedule push notifications was really useful for them and they had lots of comments from attendees about how convenient and useful it was to get those reminders.
Laine’s team managed the live polling, but to reduce the amount of time spent creating the poll questions, they wanted to give content management access to their partner, the University of Toronto. This enabled them to add and approve questions without having to go through Laine’s team. To solve this, Pri-Med was able to create a unique app login for the university so that they could add polling questions themselves.
Historically, Pri-Med used polling devices through an AV provider. But they were very expensive and a lot of people would accidentally leave the event with the devices in their bags.
They also tried a tool where attendees could text their answer through their phone, or go onto the web version of the tool to submit. The experience was cumbersome because before they could be given access to the polling tool, attendees first needed to receive special text permissions. This step was required for every session!
“Our old way of conducting live polling was very confusing for attendees and an overall tedious experience for everyone. So the fact that everything’s located in one spot with the event app — it just made it so much simpler and user-friendly for our attendees. We know attendees were more engaged and enjoyed their experience because we saw a much higher response rate.” – Laine Vella
Executing live polling through the event app was a more convenient experience for the Pri-Med team, while at the same time, proving to be a more seamless and userfriendly experience for attendees.
In the past, runners would be situated in every room and run up and down the aisles with a microphone for attendees to speak into and ask their questions. With the event app, attendees asked their questions directly through the Q&A feature, and other attendees could up-vote questions. Not only was it a convenient and easy way for attendees to ask their questions, but it also gave insight to the speaker on which questions were most important and relevant to the audience.
“The event app eliminated the awkward experience of having to raise your hand and wait for someone with a microphone to come around. Everyone could just type their question into their phones and the speaker would see the question. We ended up receiving the most number of questions compared to any of our previous conferences!”– Laine Vella
By taking advantage of EventMobi’s Q&A event app feature, Pri-Med Canada was able to not only track how many questions were asked, but also the types of questions that were of interest to attendees. With
over 3,000 questions asked across all the conference sessions, insight into which content and speakers were most engaging and of interest to attendees enabled the team to plan for and design better events in the future.
To prevent attendees from getting lost at such a large event, the team enabled the use of an interactive map within the event app. Attendees could use it to easily find their lecture hall or a vendor booth.
One of the other features attendees really loved was the note taking capabilities. It enabled them to take notes during sessions and then email them to themselves afterward.
The ability to share documents within the event app for every session was extremely beneficial to both attendees and the events team. Presentation slides and handouts were posted in the event app beforehand for attendees to reference.
With over 220 exhibitors, the event app made the experience of creating exhibitor listings very easy for both the planner and the exhibitor. Exhibitors were able to go into the app and create their own listing. They also had the ability to edit it at any time even during the conference. For example, if there was a booth change, the profile could easily and quickly be updated. It took the time and stress off the hands of Laine’s team.
With the Documents Sharing feature, the Pri-Med team saved over $8,000 in printing and shipping costs.
“We always have a crazy amount of printed handouts for attendees, and having all the documents available on the event app was so much easier. And, not only in terms of coordinating and logistics — it saved us so much time and money on printing costs. For the attendees, they weren’t bogged down by as much paper, and were happy to see us going green. It was a win-win.” – Laine Vella
This was the first time Pri-Med used an event app, so there was great concern about attendees adopting the technology, especially given the older demographic. The events team was hoping for a 40% adoption rate. In the end, the log-in rate was 62%.
“I think that tells you something. Just by looking at our polling results, as well as our evaluation results, everything improved over previous conferences. These numbers exceeded our expectations. We are very, very happy, and a little surprised for sure.”– Laine Vella
The information gathered during event registration enabled Pri-Med to improve the scheduling of speaker sessions and assigning the appropriate-sized lecture hall.
“Having the data all in one place really helped us during our pre- and post-event planning. By knowing how many people registered for each session, we were able to assign rooms that would provide enough space. The worst thing is having to turn people away from a session because there aren’t enough seats. And for our symposia sessions, since they’re sponsored, we aim to have as many people as possible attending.” – Laine Vella
Easy to Use
With any new technology, the learning curve can sometimes be a challenging experience. However, ease of use is at the forefront of EventMobi’s event app design, which strongly appealed to Laine’s team. The user experience was intuitive and straightforward for both their events team and attendees.
Laine’s Event Planner Experience
“I was responsible for building the event app. I was a bit worried at first because I had never really worked with an app before. Designing an app was foreign to me. But it ended up being super simple to set up and use. I remember thinking to myself how user-friendly and intuitive it was. It made my life so much easier.”– Laine Vella
Next Steps for Pri-Med Canada
Pri-Med’s annual conference is the largest event held by the Canadian division. With such successful results, they’ve decided to roll out the event app for all their events throughout the year.
“It was definitely a risk to use the event app the first time around for our largest event, but it ended up working out. Everyone was very happy with the results and we received very positive feedback from our attendees and exhibitors on how easy it was to use and the ability to do everything in one place.” – Laine Vella