The First Ever BerniePortal Hybrid Conference Improves Attendance & Engagement

When the world was opening back up again, how it hosted events changed forever. Event organizers adopted hybrid events after realizing their immense benefits and vFairs customer Bernard Health was one of them.

About the Client

Bernard Health is focused on solving the healthcare benefits and HR challenges faced by employers and individuals. One of their brands, BerniePortal, is an all-in-one HRIS platform for small and mid-sized employers. It promises to make managing people and building businesses easy and effortless.

bernard health logo

This year, BerniePortal hosted its 4th annual conference, Weekdays with Bernie. This conference brings together HR industry leaders and innovative thinkers for learning opportunities, networking, and strategic solution-oriented sessions. These also provide valuable strategic advice to HR professionals. 

The Challenge

Hybrid events were new ground for everyone involved with this event. The event organizers were naturally anxious about how both delivery models will come together for the event. Their biggest challenge was ensuring the experience was similar, if not exactly the same, for both in-person and virtual attendees. 

Why vFairs?

When COVID-19 disrupted plans for the Weekdays with Bernie conference in 2020, BerniePortal was quick to move to virtual events with vFairs. Now in 2021, as the world gets vaccinated, they decided to host a hybrid conference. This meant they hosted people onsite in Nashville, Tennessee, and online on the vFairs virtual events platform.

Drew Gieseke, Content Writer at Bernard Health was extremely appreciative of the vFairs team. 

“We are grateful for all the work Hassaan Siddiq did. He was in a different time zone and was always available considering he was working nights. Hassaan was a grade-A professional. He helped us from start to finish, which was especially essential considering that I stepped in midway through the planning process. We couldn’t have done it without him—plus, I got to know him on a personal level and he was a great guy to boot! Really enjoyed my time working with him and would 100% recommend others to do the same.” 

The Solution

They understood people were still getting comfortable with traveling and hence opted for a hybrid conference to capture both sets of audiences thus increasing attendance. They added some great hybrid conference features to merge the onsite and online experiences for their attendees.

Breakout Sessions

The BerniePortal Hybrid Conference hosted breakout sessions for people attending in person. It was easier for them logistically to set that up since they were live-streaming those sessions instead of pre-recording them (as was the case with their virtual conference in 2020). 

Live Streaming Sessions

They used YouTube to directly embed the link into the vFairs platform. Attendees stayed within the platform and could easily and directly access the link. This was also the feature the team at BerniePortal enjoyed the most and made good use of. 

virtual auditorium

Sponsorship for BerniePortal Hybrid Conference

Sponsors responded favorably to the hybrid model. They were already familiar with the virtual experience since sponsors were the same as last year. However, this year they attended the event as well. 

BerniePortal fosters relationships with many of its sponsors. Even though the onsite crowd was smaller, they saw a good sponsorship turnout. They set up their booths onsite and online both, and received a good number of leads from the networking sessions themselves. 2020 served as a good practice year because now sponsors were more used to it and knew what to expect. 


Exhibit Booths

Exhibitors had booths virtually and onsite both except one. There were times allocated for networking virtually and onsite both. Attendees could view these times in the individual booths of each exhibitor. 

Exhibit Booth

Engagement Opportunities

There was a boost in the engagement at the BerniePortal Hybrid Conference. Attendees who were present on site were really excited to be on the ground. The online attendees also wanted to interact with the CEO and other participants on-site. 

Speakers present on-site addressed the remote audiences. These audiences sent in their questions. These were translated live to the presenter. This again increased engagement among the hybrid audiences.

networking lounge

Immersive Virtual Conference Features

The virtual platform set up for the BerniePortal Hybrid Conference had a few features which not only encouraged participation but also created opportunities for engagement. Additionally, the BerniePortal team found the platform very easy to use. These features included: 

  • 3D animated lobby 
  • Exhibit hall with an aerial view; booths clearly displayed 
  • Leaderboard to track points gained by attendees 
  • Virtual auditorium for speaker sessions 
  • Networking lounge (connecting with various BerniePortal via various channels)


The Result

Key takeaways of the BerniePortal hybrid conference were:

  • Attendance increased. 
  • There were engagement opportunities and attendees enjoyed interacting online and onsite both.
  • Sponsors and attendees both responded positively to the hybrid conference. 
  • Bernard Health plans to continue with the hybrid conference model for future events.

The BerniePortal Hybrid Conference was Bernard Health’s second event with vFairs. Last year, Weekdays with Bernie was an all-virtual conference. 

BerniePortal’s favorite feature was the live streaming via YouTube. 

“We tested the live stream and found YouTube to be the best platform to embed live stream videos directly with the vFairs platform”. 

With over 200 chats, 750+ booth visits, almost 1000 document views, and 600+ video views, BerniePortal considered their hybrid conference an absolute success.

The First Ever BerniePortal Hybrid Conference Improves Attendance & Engagement

Syeda Hamna Hassan

Hamna is a Content Writer at vFairs. She has over 5 years of experience writing content for SaaS, IT, and telecommunications industries. She is a storyteller, content marketing expert, and loves to write about the changing trends in the events industry. When she's not writing, she's over analyzing every FC Barcelona game.

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