The Background: What’s AMTA?

Founded in 1979, the Antenna Measurement Techniques Association (AMTA) is a non-profit organization of antenna measurement engineers. Since it’s been founded, the organization has been arranging annual conferences for its niche network of professionals. 

These conferences span over five days. The agenda discusses around 100 research papers, offers learning courses, and provides vendors an opportunity to market their products. More importantly, it brings together old friends, letting them share new technology and newly learned nerd jokes. 

For their 42nd annual symposium, AMTA was unable to meet like they always had. And the AMTA family was deeply saddened by the news.

Michelle Taylor, President of AMTA, sat with vFairs to discuss how the organization didn’t give up and arranged a virtual event to survive the pandemic. Here’s how she helped AMTA keep the spirit of their conference alive, and helped bring the AMTA family together again.

The Challenge: Virtual Events that Felt like Zoom Meetings

While AMTA knew that the answer to their problems was a virtual event, they weren’t very excited by the prospect. Here’s why using traditional virtual events platforms was not ideal for AMTA:

  • Lack of interactivity: Most virtual event platforms were like any other Zoom meeting. They were boring, didn’t offer opportunities to socialize, and were simply too basic for a conference that wanted old friends to connect and have a memorable time. 
  • Losing sponsorships: While virtual events do see a sizable attendance these days, they rarely get engagement or leads from the attendees. For this reason, AMTA was worried about losing sponsorships for their virtual symposium. 

The Solution: An Interactive Virtual Events Platform

Michelle saw vFairs at an industry-related conference. Having had her fair share of draining virtual events, she recognized that the platform was different. It was far superior to any of the other solutions she had seen. There was hope for AMTA.

an image of the amta virtual conference lobby

vFairs offered AMTA a way to completely change how their audience viewed virtual events. Here are the benefits that AMTA realized.

Improved networking with the several chat features

Most virtual event attendees feel that virtual conferences are just like another Zoom meeting. And who remembers ever enjoying those? 

AMTA was looking for a platform that could help old friends socialize comfortably. They wanted the effect of a lounge where you could easily chat with friends you’ve known for 20 years. 

vFairs helped AMTA set up a number of networking avenues. The lounge provided attendees the option to send their questions to speakers, meet with fellow AMTA colleagues, offer their feedback, or meet with the host committee. 

an image of the amta virtual conference lounge

In addition to this, the animated avatars in the lobby helped attendees feel like they were actually at the event. This was a central goal for AMTA – they wanted to replicate as many details from their live events as possible.

“The animated lobby was really the icing on the cake!”, Michelle Taylor. 

Easy-to-attend speaker sessions 

The vFairs speaker sessions were a game-changer for AMTA. The AMTA virtual conference could now offer:

  • clearer visuals and audio, something that only the best auditorium seats enjoy during in-person events,
  • international speakers from all around the world to make the sessions more diverse and inclusive, and
  • accessible sessions as AMTA opted for on-demand videos that could be watched whenever convenient. 

the image of amta's auditorium

In addition to this flexibility, they opted for hybrid events. Each session was pre-recorded to avoid any technical hiccups, followed by a live 30 minute Q&A session to keep them interactive. 

an image of the amta speaking schedule

The papers were broken down by topics, with each topic roughly containing 20 papers. Once all papers had been discussed, there would be an additional two-hour Q&A session in the lounge with six to seven authors taking questions. And this formula was loved by the attendees. 

“It was a great discussion. I can’t tell you how active it was. It was very engaging!”

Flexibility 

In-person events tend to stick to a tight schedule where you have to be at a certain auditorium at a certain time. Attendees rush to different areas and often miss critical discussions. 

This was another advantage AMTA observed. Their virtual symposium was extremely flexible and offered an edge over their traditional events. People were also much more relaxed and could easily attend their sessions of choice. 

Moreover, AMTA felt that software offers a kind of functional flexibility that in-person events just can’t. There’s always an add-on for something you want to pull off, making your virtual event extremely versatile and dynamic. 

Enhanced engagement with the leaderboard

an image of amta's leaderboard

The AMTA virtual conference also made use of the vFairs leaderboard and was very pleasantly surprised by the result. Their in-person events have a similar bingo game that prompts attendees to visit certain exhibitors and get more eyeballs on their products.

The virtual leaderboard worked in a similar way and far exceeded AMTA’s expectations. The team set point values for visiting exhibitors, making their sponsors happy, and organizing a competitive and fun event for attendees.

Actionable insights from the reporting module

The exhibitors were very happy with the AMTA virtual conference. For the first time, they had detailed data of every attendee that visited their booth and the piece of information they engaged with. This lead information offered long-term value for exhibitors. And AMTA, previously concerned about losing sponsorships, was beyond relieved.

Smooth setup with vFairs exceptional customer service

Michelle concluded that her favorite part of the vFairs experience was the super helpful customer service. As the burden of organizing AMTA’s first virtual event fell on her, she was glad she could use the extra help. 

The backend was new to her but weekly meetings with the vFairs team helped AMTA design every aspect of their event with ease. Michelle told the team that she couldn’t recall a time when she shot out a question and didn’t get a reply in a few hours. 

“The responsiveness was better than I’ve had with any company ever”, Michelle Taylor.

Conclusion

AMTA had set modest goals for their first virtual event. But their event saw a lot of traction and engagement from attendees. The close-knit but globally spread-out family was easily able to come together again and rekindle their love for antenna measurements. Attendees chatted up with colleagues, reconnected with old friends, and discussed new findings with a lot of passion. The best part was that everyone found it really easy to make their way around the virtual space, and were not afraid to use it. 

For a goal of 150 attendees, the AMTA virtual conference entertained an impressive 226. And while they were keeping their fingers crossed to break even, they actually ended up making a profit. 

Michelle was really pleased with the platform and is looking for more ways to use it. And so is AMTA as they look forward to hosting their upcoming conference with vFairs.

 

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