How to organize an online event for a practical target audience

For 36 years, the Venticare Foundation has organized an annual accredited event for employees working in Acute Care. This year, for the first time, the event was entirely online. It turned out to be a challenge to organize a good online event for such a practical minded target audience. Yet it succeeded.

Normally 1931 Congress Centre in 's-Hertogenbosch is dedicated to Acute Care for two days in June. Over 1200 employees of Intensive Cares and ambulances gather there to be educated about the latest developments in their field. Highlight: the Venticare Reanimation Competition. Teams from different hospitals compete against each other to show who they can resuscitate best. 'This is a very serious business,' says Venticare account manager Floortje Stevens. 'It is preceded by intensive internal competitions in the hospitals, so that only the best teams show up. The goal of training a lot in resuscitation is thus achieved. Winners and losers often have tears running down their face when they either win or lose.' In addition to the honour and fame, the first prize is a large trophy and a cash reward of € 1.000.

Choosing an online event

However, during the corona crisis, this kind of event could not take place, of course. That's why Venticare also went online. Floortje found it a challenge. ‘We have a very practical target audience. Hands on the bed, few screens. Certainly sitting behind a screen for an entire day is difficult.' Moreover, the Acute Care employees were tired due to the enormous workload of the past period. Very tired. ‘At the same time we wanted to draw their attention to the current issues. In six months' time there will be completely different issues. That's why we decided to hold the event anyway, but for one day instead of two.’

The challenges of online

Then came all sorts of other challenges, says Floortje. 'The decision to hold the event came several weeks before the actual date. We didn't have much time to change things.' Moreover, it soon became clear to Floortje and her team that an online event is completely different from an offline one. 'Offline you have a desk, a routing, now we had to work with software. The program was already fixed and we couldn't change it anymore. We found out that you can't copy an offline presentation 1-to-1. An online event is a kind of TV program that you have to script well. That was a huge learning point for us.'

Successful day

Nevertheless, the day was a success. ‘We had four content blocks. The great thing was that these blocks could also be watched independently on demand. There was a DJ during lunch, hundreds of viewers who actively participated via polls and chats, and satisfied sponsors whose pitches we showed videos of during the event.’ Floortje was very happy with the expertise and commitment of Online Seminar. ‘They advised us on all sorts of things we didn't know about ourselves. Moreover, they worked hard for us to finish everything on time and to realize what we wanted. Nothing was too much.'

Hybrid events

For a next event, Floortje is considering a hybrid form. 'The work of Acute Care remains hugely practical. Online CPR is simply not possible. Besides, our target audience values a physical outing with each other.' One potential advantage, however, is that participants can attend sessions online that they missed on the live day. Floortje: 'Our program is entirely plenary, so that's not really applicable now. But with an online event we do increase our reach. After all, it is inherent to our field that not everyone can be there: someone has to be in the ICU and the ambulance. With an online event, we can serve those people as well.'

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Rico Hoeboer

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