Risk Management Solutions (RMS) helps businesses and organizations evaluate and assess risks — from natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and wildfires to cyberattacks, industrial accidents, terrorism and everything in between.
Each May, the company hosts its annual Exceedance conference in various cities around the world for RMS experts, industry thought leaders and risk management colleagues. The conference focuses on sharing technological advances, updates to risk models and data-driven approaches to solutions.
Usually, RMS begins planning the next edition of its Exceedance event as soon as its current one ends. But in 2020, the RMS team was thrown a curveball and had to move the entire conference online in short order.
The RMS planning team had several challenges to overcome in less than eight weeks: plan a virtual conference using the framework of the original in-person conference on a platform they’ve never used before, find a way to represent RMS’ brand identity in the virtual event, and make sure the virtual event facilitates engagement, discussions and networking for participants and experts.
Planning the Event
Most of Exceedance 2020 was already planned by March 2020. The theme, “This Changes Everything” already had its keynote speakers, breakout sessions and topic tracks locked down.
Thankfully, this planning proved to be useful in RMS’ switch to digital. The team simply translated the same speakers and topics into a virtual, global time-zone-friendly format.
The event featured several keynote addresses and six topic tracks: risk analytics, modeling insights, modeling science, technology and innovation, vision and fundamental knowledge.
The team worked with the speakers to transition their presentations to a virtual environment where they could share content with attendees using a slide deck and media player.
RMS was new to the ON24 platform, but the event planning team quickly grasped the functionality of the software and easily walked speakers through the process of setting up presentations for a virtual environment.
Because virtual events eliminate geographic and attendance restrictions, RMS hoped to attract a larger international audience. To foster engagement and discussions among attendees and experts overseas, the event planning team scheduled several sessions specifically for international participants at regional-friendly times.
If participants were not able to view a live session, they could still watch it on-demand anytime within 90 days of the event.
The RMS team provided attendees with a downloadable master agenda with all sessions and events for the week so they could easily plan out which sessions they’d like to attend.
When planning the layout and design of the virtual event, RMS wanted to make sure the event branding aligned with its newly revamped brand identity. It was important for the planning team to showcase the new look through the virtual event platform and other marketing materials leading up to the conference.
With the brand focus on broad, aerial landscape images and earthy textures, the planning team had to find a way for this to translate to the digital platform for the virtual conference. The ON24 Virtual Environment offers complete design customization tools including background images, font, text colors, text size, widget colors and more.
The event planning team was tasked with finding a way to replicate the look and feel of RMS’ brand with large aerial landscape images in the virtual environment.
Networking, engagement, building relationships and discussions with experts were key components of previous Exceedance conferences — and RMS didn’t want to lose those elements in a virtual environment.
To bring the human element to the fore, RMS crafted a virtual Expert Bar where attendees could register for live Q&A times to chat with the company’s team of scientists and engineers. RMS made sure to include times friendly to global audiences as well.
In addition to the Expert Bar, Exceedance 2020 also had scheduled Twitter chats, social media live streams and a virtual networking lounge where participants could join live group chats about topics related to the conference and risk management.
The event planning team at RMS crafted a virtual event from scratch in less than eight weeks with outstanding results.
Including the on-demand viewing capability of virtual events, RMS saw a 200% increase in attendees for the 2020 event compared to previous years. It also saw a significantly higher portion of international attendees than any previous year. Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive so much so that RMS has planned for Exceedance 2021 to be an entirely virtual event too.