1. The Background: Ohio Contractors Association

Founded in 1918, Ohio Contractors Association (OCA) has been serving the construction industry; working hard every day to construct and supply the materials and services needed to build infrastructure such as highways, bridges and utilities in Ohio.

The association has over 600 active members and nine chapters spread across the state. Which help them connect with industry experts, outreaching, and building stronger relationships. Their core mission is “to provide necessary support, unity, and leadership to the heavy highway and utility industry in Ohio” for the ultimate success. 

Apart from offering education and training to the managerial and technical staff, OCA offers scholarships for engaging young students to become future leaders by pursuing industry-related education and careers in the construction field. OCA recently held a Winter Conference last year in December 2020.

In 2021, they decided to host their second annual virtual Conaway Conference with vFairs, spanning over three days, from March 2nd-4th. Before that they “have done a lot of Zoom meetings but not many actual virtual conferences”, according to David Rule, Director of Member Events at OCA. 

2. The Goal: Conaway Conference 2021

The main goal of their educational and informational conference was to open up doors for endless opportunities for 400+ attendees; helping them learn about industry-critical topics, and networking with fellow industry professionals.

3. The Problem: Creating Value for Money

Amid the COVID pandemic, even though going virtual was a newer territory for them. They did not want to skip their events geared specifically towards education; still wanted their people to continue their education credit time, helping them learn about the changing trends in the industry.

So to make their event a success they knew they needed a flexible virtual event platform that would help them achieve their goals at a reasonable cost.

4. Why vFairs?

Finally, they began their search for a platform that could offer the same engaging and interactive experience as physical events. “After a lot of Googling”, David chose vFairs. He thoroughly did his market research of similar products, requested for demonstrations to weigh the pros and cons. Also looked into referrals, skimmed through the testimonials and shortlisted ten similar products. Tested all the products, and in the end, to see their Conaway conference to fruition; OCA chose vFairs as their virtual conference hosting partner as it offered them “what was the best fit for our type of virtual meetings”.

“We liked the 3D animated type of environment, the pricing was the most transparent, and there were no blind spots.” – David Rule, Director of Member Events

Conaway conference

He simply admired the user-friendly interface. Also he was super satisfied with the dedicated customer support from the initial setup to the final execution of the virtual event. Additionally, the scalability feature of the platform was cherry on top. Whereas other similar products did not have the features they needed such as “long term reliability for that kind of environment.”

4.1. Live & Pre-recorded Presentations

OCA implemented the combination of live and pre-recorded presentations which featured industry leaders followed by a live Q&A session at the end to encourage attendee engagement and networking was a value addition. In addition to this, constant technical support from vFairs prevented any technical issues from taking place. 

4.2. Seamless Navigation

80+ exhibitors were clearly visible. Easy navigation provided the necessary guidance to the attendees to navigate through a booth. OCA was delighted by the user-friendliness of the platforms. The avatars made the attendees feel connected with the virtual space. The lobby provided easy access to attendees to navigate through the different sessions.

4.3.Content Sharing

Attendees could easily access downloadable content or any marketing collateral they see in the virtual environment or within the booth. OCA’s social platforms and blogs were also integrated with the event for attendee’s awareness and comprehensive knowledge sharing.

Conaway conference with vfairs

5. The Spotlight: Enhanced Visual Appeal Through a 3D Interface

The 3D interface and visually attractive backgrounds provided a uniquely immersive virtual environment experience for both the sponsor and attendees. OCA was very excited about the whole virtual 3D setup. They even used Columbus’ image as their 3D background since their association is based in the state capital city of Ohio. Additionally, it offered an interactive journey for the attendees where they can engage in activities, network, attend breakout sessions and explore exhibits. 

“I think being able to have nice visual platforms, animated lobby, exhibit halls, how can we make this look appealing when people step in, just made it a lot more interesting. Also, being able to be creative a little bit with the look and the feel is the best part of vFairs.” 

conaway conference 2021

Know more about vFairs.

6. Key Takeaways from the Virtual Conaway Conference 2021

In their first event, exhibitors did not resonate very much with the audience. They lacked a little in the advertising area; also had trouble interacting with people but Conway Conference with vFairs was phenomenal. But it was a learning curve and they understood how to use the tool better.

Moreover, they did not know they were gonna go virtual and didn’t know how to promote the event. But they hit their target, broke even in terms of budget, and far exceeded the initial expectations. 

“Net revenue was higher than live events,” says David. The second time around they learned how to encourage the participants to participate. They had people come by their booth to whom they were able to present their material. It also stood out in terms of sponsors.  Moreover, after the event, they surveyed the attendees and 75% of them said; that they should “ought to continue to offer some time for virtual elements in the future,” mainly because it’s “good for people who don’t want to travel.”

conaway conference 2021

Moving forward in the future, they are considering a hybrid environment in their next virtual conference; as the COVID situation settles with at least 35% live sessions and;

“The ability to easily organize more seamless breakout sessions so that our people can get the education they need.”

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