The annual conference of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses™ (WOCN®) Society brings together about 1,400 healthcare professionals and 1,000 exhibitors every year. Attendees gather for continuing education and networking, as well as to expand the practice of WOC nursing and create awareness around the issues affecting patient and caregiver populations. The nurses’ dependence on more traditional ways of learning and engaging was preventing the organization from taking advantage of digital and mobile innovation. They looked to a2z for a solution.
In 2011, WOCN conference planners were faced with a dilemma. The more conventional methods used to deliver conference content and facilitate attendee-exhibitor engagement-hard-coded websites, printed directories, paper handouts and unplanned booth visits-were familiar to conference participants, but operationally inefficient for show organizers. Staffers were entering exhibitor data into multiple databases and submitting website change requests through the IT department, all while mobile apps were growing in popularity and value. Despite all the new advances in content management systems, mobile solutions and matchmaking software, show managers had to be careful about not introducing too much technology to attendees at once.
a2z's modular design and à la carte features list allowed WOCN planners to phase in technology gradually over a two-year period. In the first phase, planners adopted the a2z platform for conference management and implemented the basic ChirpE mobile application that came with the software package. "We didn’t have to go to another app provider and although our audience didn’t love technology, they realized that it was inevitable," says Brooke Bilofsky, associate meeting manager for WOCN.
In phase two of the implementation, organizers added a website built on a2z’s content management system-a one-stop shop for updating website information and exhibitor listings. The website was synchronized with an enhanced ChirpE mobile app-a fully branded native and web-enabled version-that included an interactive floor plan, social media access, conference session evaluations and links to presentation handouts. Planners also implemented personalization and matchmaking features (branded as MyWOCN), which enabled attendees to build their own conference itineraries and pre-schedule appointments with exhibitors.
The success of the managed rollout of a2z offerings was evident in the results derived from the 2013 conference:
- 1,034 WOCN conference participants downloaded the mobile app.
- 74% of registered attendees used MyWOCN generating an average of 27 pre-show leads per exhibitor.
- The time required to update exhibitor listings was decreased by 50% using a2z’s platform to populate the website, mobile app and networking platform simultaneously.
- The new website built on a2z’s content management system reduced waiting time for content updates to zero.
- Printed presentation handouts and the cost of printing them on site were eliminated.
"This app was invaluable. It made the conference so easy to navigate. All the schedule, room numbers and handouts were on it. I was able to instantly rate the sessions for my CEUs. Glad I decided to get an iPhone. Totally reduced carrying all that heavy paper around. Took notes on my phone and emailed them to myself from the convention while still sitting in my chair at the end of each session. They won't get lost in a mound of other papers as they usually do." - Attendee, WOCN 2013
Building on the success of the previous two years, WOCN will continue to place the mobile app at the center of the attendee experience. Bilofsky’s team will add the social “buzz” feature to the ChirpE app as a sponsorship opportunity. They will beef up education and tech support around the features and usability of the app to make it the focal point for evaluations, notes, handouts, navigation, networking and exhibitor appointments. The 2014 website is already in place and organizers won’t have to build one from scratch.
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