COVID has accelerated RX Global’ use of digital event technology in ways they couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago ‒ and it’s not just their own show teams that are benefiting.

To date, over 120 RX Global events have launched digital events and/or are delivering digital content, with more on the way. They are offering everything from online webinars and resource hubs for customers needing support and guidance, to digital matchmaking and meeting tools that actively reconnect customers and generate real business outcomes.

Reed Travel Exhibitions’ recent ATM Virtual redefined expectations of what can be achieved with an online event, attracting 18,964 participants from 152 countries, generating 14,385 pre-scheduled meetings, and attracting 16,929 viewers to its live seminar sessions over three days. Similarly, participants in Midem Digital Edition enjoyed access to over 250 speakers from every music sector, exclusive concerts, unique market intelligence, and the first-ever Artist and Label Services Directory. Within the first week, the event portal had registered 7,969 unique users, generated 1,000+ meeting requests and made over 84,000 business connection recommendations.

As new digital platforms, tools and content are developed, tested and launched, results and best practices are shared companywide on the RX Global SharePoint site, which provides an impressive snapshot of just how far they have come.

Among the 200+ regular RX users of the site are an increasing number of colleagues from across RELX.  “Over the past few weeks, we have been approached by event organisers from RELX who are looking to take their own conferences online, and are keen to learn from our experiences with different solutions providers”, says Ade Allenby, Global Head of Digital and Data Innovation, who together with Alan Arnfeld, Senior Director of Customer Success, is responsible for driving digital engagement and connectivity across RX Global.

Digital conferences

LexisNexis Risk Solutions participates in or hosts over 80 events a year in the insurance business. As the global pandemic took center stage in the spring they realized they needed to take a new approach to their event delivery.  “We met with Abe on Teams to discuss how we could move to an online platform for our key customer touchpoints and had a great discussion around three platforms” says Allison Hunt, Director, Content Marketing and Events. After meeting with the vendors we ended up going with ON24 and will host our first event, Virtual CAM (Customer Advisory Meeting), in September with our key clients here in the US. We will be sharing feedback with Ade, Alan and the team. I would love it if we could all share what we are learning! This is new territory and we are flying blind!”

NRS delivers several educational programs to Investment Advisers and Broker-dealers in the US, including some that are traditionally delivered as live, face-to-face events. When confronted with the prospect of cancelling key events due to the pandemic crisis, NRS reached out to RX Global for expertise and experience in delivering virtual events.

“Having hosted the NRS Fall Compliance Conference in an in-person setting for more than three decades, we were keen to ensure that a virtual event lived up to the standards we set for ourselves and our customers expect” says John Gebauer, Head of Regulatory Compliance. “Ade quickly guided us through the pros and cons of various platform providers, applications and tools so that we could develop a virtualization plan in short order given the event deadlines.”

Networking

Similarly, as the world went into lockdown, Accuity had little time to move its face-to-face events online. “We used the technology we already had and the results were good, but we were unable to deliver the networking experience that is so much a part of our physical events” says Ana Suarez, Head of Sales and Marketing Operations. “We started looking at how we could elevate the experience for future events and, realizing that RX Global was going through all of these challenges on a major scale, I contacted Ade. He saved me valuable time I would have had to spend researching, offering his advice and experience with different vendors and pointed me to demos on RX Global’ tech stack. We are still looking into different solutions, but as we progress our work it’s good to have colleagues to crosscheck/share info with.”

Two-way learning

Of course the learning goes both ways. When RELX Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion Manager, Helen Shepherd was organizing RELX’s recent SDG Inspiration Day on 14 June she discussed potential solution providers with Ade, eventually opting for Hopin, a platform RX Global hadn’t used. A member of the exhibitions innovation team joined the event, and Helen is sharing their experiences with Ade, Alan and the team.

Collaboration

Reflecting on their engagement with RX Global, all the RELX colleagues spoke of the importance of collaboration and the value of a having a central repository of information and expertise.

The impact of COVID-19 has definitely encouraged us to collaborate more within the business” says Angela Jones, Head of Event Operations at Reed Business Information. “Ade and his team have enabled us to work across the business, finding new and more efficient ways of reviewing new suppliers. We have also made valuable, internal networking connections, a recent example being Randy Field and Susan Merola, RX US. Being part of a large organisation has huge advantages but it also comes with its challenges, presented by being a part of a large matrix organisation: Where teams still work in silos it’s imperative that our central procurement portal enables us to search existing suppliers; view associated contracts, security and GDPR clearance checks.  Any clearance checks should be recognised and accepted at company level so teams aren’t having to start at ground zero each time.  This will help us to innovate and be even more agile, which is crucial in this ever changing world of events.”

“By bringing together interested parties from across the RELX group Ade and Alan have started an important dialogue which will form the basis for our future offerings” agrees Nigel Clear, Commercial Director, Elsevier, who is responsible for the company’s global scientific conference business.  “Their energy and knowledge have been extremely helpful in guiding our thoughts as we look at alternative products to remain connected with our customers in this difficult time. Whilst we cannot be sure what the future holds, we can be sure that the traditional face to face meeting will undoubtedly require an online component to augment it, and we will need to navigate the many products and services that are on offer. I am confident that the informal working group Ade and Alan have pulled together will share ideas, experiences and best practice which will enable us to meet the new challenges that a post COVID meetings business will face.”

“Conferences are critically important to the research and medical communities Elsevier serves. They are a primary channel for the dissemination of scientific discovery which now, more than ever, is of the utmost importance; we need to provide viable, effective alternatives which will serve their needs while we are unable to meet in person, and augment them when we can, once again, enjoy face to face meetings.”