The 29th World Buiatrics Congress (WBC) took place at The CCD over six days in July attracting more than 3,000 cattle specialists. It is the premier cattle congress in the world, exploring the study of cattle and their health.
Ireland is Chosen, the Excitement Builds
The conference industry works in long arcs of time and short bursts of excitement. For the 29th WBC in 2016, the bidding process began in 2008, before The CCD had been built and when the methods of communication between industry professionals were only starting to move online.
During that period also, the WBC attendees halved from 2,000 (2012), to just under 1,000 (2014). For Kevin O’Farrell, Treasurer of the Local Organising Committee it represented a big problem. ‘It made it difficult to budget. We knew that Ireland had huge destination appeal and the WBC delegates were excited about Dublin and The CCD, but we simply didn’t have the database to reach them’ said Kevin. ‘How can someone register for your conference if they don’t know about it?’
A global digital marketing strategy was put in place by MCI Dublin. Moving advertising spend away from traditional print to digital media, creating a WBC brand personality, using good content over sales tactics, and running fun campaigns that generate engagement were all key elements of the marketing plan.
Over 12 months a record number of abstracts were submitted, the database tripled in size, social media followers came to the association in droves, and ultimately a record 3,198 delegates registered for WBC 2016, over 320% more than the previous congress.
From the very beginning the fact that The CCD was such a sustainable venue was an important factor in deciding the location for WBC 2016. All elements of the congress that were expected to have a negative impact on the environment were stripped back and replaced with digital alternatives. The CCD’s new digital display units, video walls and hanging arrays were used to display session names. The printed abstract book was digitally distributed, a printed pocket programme, alongside the congress app, replaced the full printed version and banner advertising on the app replaced physical delegate bag inserts. Delegates were actively encouraged to use the public transport available right outside the venue and by using The CCD’s ingrained policies and infrastructure, the most environmentally sustainable congress in the association’s history was produced.
‘The marketing was vital’ said Michael Sexton, Chair of the Local Organising Committee ‘but it’s the organisational excellence behind the flashy stuff that really helps.’
The congress received an 89% satisfaction rate from the delegates in Dublin, with crucial elements such as on-site registration being rated ‘very good – excellent’ by 97% of attendees. The real results come from the words of these delegates, and the sponsors who made it happen. One major sponsor commented ‘I have worked in the industry for 18 years and I have attended many conferences – WBC Dublin was one of the best’ while a delegate said ‘This is the best WBC congress I’ve been to in 20 years!’
The Cow Selfie
The #CowSelfie campaign asked WBC delegates to submit selfie pictures with their favourite cow. The response was amazing; from Brazil to Japan via South Africa and Portugal, over 100 entries came flooding in from around the world. The campaign generated over 2 million impressions in a single week, and the engagement continued on-site. A fake cow was brought onto the trade floor allowing people to have milking competitions with each other. Prizes were announced for the #CowSelfie campaign as veterinarians hotly debated the correct milking techniques in the background, it’s all about the thumbs, apparently. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of fun to get people talking.