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Partner News: ICMS Australasia releases White Paper on monetising virtual conferences

Australia’s oldest Professional Conference Organiser, ICMS Australasia (ICMSA), has released a White Paper on monetising virtual meetings after managing seven events on-line since June 2020.

Like many businesses, associations have faced countless challenges over the past 12 months, with some struggling to maintain communication channels with their members because of the inability to do so in a live environment.

Recognising in March 2020 that live events were off the table for the foreseeable future, ICMSA set about reengineering the events we had on the books for the remainder of the year and into 2021 by delivering those that we could in a virtual format.

Our strategy, however, wasn’t to simply move live events onto an on-line platform. As with the majority of events we manage we had to ensure that we not only maintained strong engagement with the event owners and their audiences - as we consistently do - but that there was a positive financial outcome in doing so.

Our biggest test came in late January this year when we delivered a fully virtual 43rd Scientific Assembly for the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) with 2,200 full-paying delegates beaming in from all four corners of the globe.

At the conclusion of the six day event we recorded 5,283 downloads of presentations, 98.8 per cent online engagement, 1,500 individual delegate interactions, 1,088 interactions between sponsors and attendees and a healthy bank balance for the event owners.  These metrics will grow as the event is available on-demand until 31 December 2021.

Equally as pleasing from our perspective was that these factors combined have ensured this globally important association that was founded in 1958 a few short months after the first artificial earth satellite (Sputnik 1) was launched, continues to be the leading organisation for space researchers and scientists around the world.

The management of COSPAR 2021 and six other virtual conferences during 2020 and 2021 has demonstrated to us that the most important aspects of events and conventions – knowledge and research sharing, collaboration, education, raising awareness of specific issues, new product offerings, showcasing local talent, and developing investment partnerships – can still be achieved virtually. And all with a positive bottom line result.

The environment for live gatherings is presently looking up in Australia and New Zealand, however, any talk of involving international attendees (other than from NZ) at domestic meetings over the next 12 months at least is simply hot air unless they are participating virtually.

Be that as it may, there remains the potential to run effective conferences virtually or in a hybrid format that achieves key deliverables, including a financial surplus.

Our experience with virtual conferences has led to us writing a White Paper – Conferences in a COVID19 world: monetising virtual meetings – which includes five key recommendations that we know work.

If you are planning a virtual conference and wish to create a hybrid event, or are just unsure about where to go next, then I would be more than happy to share with you the key learnings from our White Paper.

Yours in professional meetings management,

Emma Bowyer (


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