Finplex is an independent consultancy firm based in Belgium. They help accountants transform digitally by connecting them with accountancy software suppliers to find new software tools that make their lives easier.
They know almost all the software players in the market and are digital entrepreneurs themselves. A big name in the Belgian accountancy world, they facilitate the community of firms, software vendors, entrepreneurs and professional associations and help put accountancy companies firmly on the digital map.
Every year, Finplex would organise multiple in-person events so industry players could interact. This year the pandemic pushed them to move online. There was a lot of trepidation on their part as they wanted a virtual event that could really provide authentic networking opportunities and keep all the participants involved. Airmeet resolved these issues for them seamlessly.
Detailed below is the account of how Finplex hosted an amazing virtual event on Airmeet that was successful beyond their expectations.
Challenges (and solutions)
Challenge 1: Organizing a virtual event that can mirror an in-person setup and allow deep interaction
Glenn Vandamme, Co-founder, Finplex, explained, “In the last three years, we did a lot of physical events. All our events are based on knowledge sharing. We would have a room full of tables, and each table had a moderator. We would let people stand around that table, in groups of 8, and debate on a topic.”
Finplex was looking for a solution that could mirror the in-person event behavior online. Glenn divulged, “All the virtual event platforms I explored, the zooms of this world, are tools offering just video, that participants can watch. Attendees could easily be doing other activities without focusing on the seminar at all. That is why we actually weren’t planning to do any big events this year. But then I saw the Airmeet platform on other events and on LinkedIn. What drew my attention is mainly the lounge. I think that’s the biggest asset.”
A speaker at a lot of events himself, Glenn really did his homework before taking the plunge. He participated in a public event listed on Airmeet’s homepage in order to explore it as a user. He followed the sessions at the event, went to the lounge, visited a table and a booth to see the look and feel of the platform.
He shared, “ It was easy to onboard. I did not encounter any issues at all. It was basically just the same thing as our in-person setup. I felt we could do almost everything that we did at our real events, virtually on Airmeet.”
The event Finplex finally hosted on Airmeet was a large 4-hour event with 400 participants and about 30 sponsor booths. The Finplex founders did an opening keynote session and one main session with Jurgen Ingels, a big software investor in Belgium. The main session had audience interaction as well.
They opened the lounge, organizing various tables with 20-minute slots. Participants could discuss the topic on a table for one slot and then move to a different table for the next slot.
They also had booth sessions and breakout rooms during the event.
Airmeet features that helped create the experience were:
- Social Lounge: Glenn felt that with Airmeet, they could keep people interested because there is an aspect of action in the event. “With most platforms, participants just listen to people; at the most, they can do a poll. But with Airmeet, the lounge aspect makes it really active- participants can actively participate and talk to others. That is a unique feature that other platforms lack.”
- Tables and Booths: The event got a complete in-person feel because attendees could interact at various tables and sponsors could use the booths to engage their audience.
- Emojis, invite to stage and Q&A sessions: Glenn also appreciated the available opportunities for participation using these features. Regarding the live chat, he felt that “It’s cool to see spontaneous reactions.”
Finplex was delighted with the way they replicated their in-person event on Airmeet.
Challenge 2: Need for a stable, easy-to-use platform that could host large numbers and offer quality customer support
Finplex had already done smaller virtual events and was now looking to host an event with 400 people. The event would bring together big suppliers, some of whom were international names in the industry like ING, Silverfin and Sage, to name a few.
They also wanted to bring in a celebrity like Jurgen Ingels. Glenn shared, “We wanted to have stability across the event, and didn’t want anybody to drop out. With Airmeet, we had stability and out of 400 people, we lost maybe 10. Almost everybody stuck till the end. For a 4 hour long online event, that’s a big achievement.”
Airmeet features that solved this challenge were:
- Security and Scale: A secure platform and the ability to host up to tens of thousands of participants helped Finplex run a smooth, glitch-free event.
- Ease of use: Regarding this, Glenn said, “I basically set up the event all by myself. I made my colleague the co-host so that in case something were to happen, he had all the access, but it wasn’t needed. I think the only thing that could go wrong would be losing internet connectivity!”
- Support: Finplex engaged dedicated support from Airmeet for their event. “There was somebody that we could reach out to during the event. I had to do that only once or twice- it was an issue with the microphone, but I really didn’t need it, which is actually a good thing – because, on a good platform, you shouldn’t have to need support. Everything went well. It was a good experience.”
Challenge 3: Inspiring confidence in sponsors while showcasing ROI
Finplex had 30 sponsors for this event. There were big, international and local names attending like Sage, Walters Kluwer, ING, Yuki etc. They all had a booth at the event. Glenn explained how the sponsorships worked. “ Sponsors had to pay to be there. There were two types of sponsors – sponsors that took a booth for a session and sponsors that only took a table at the lounge. Each sponsored table was branded, and the sponsors turned moderators on their own table. They discussed a topic that was basically about their software tool.”
Post the event, Glenn gathered feedback from the sponsors. “Most of the 30 replied that it was the best online event they ever did as a sponsor! It was great!”
Glenn disclosed how the sponsors were very happy with the crowd they could address. In the context of future events in the year, on Airmeet, he mentioned, “ All the sponsors will stick around for all three events this year. Nobody chose to drop out. We expect that they will help to get more people on the events as well.”
A beneficial feature that Glenn talked about was the analytics. He stressed, “ If we had known that the depth of the analytics would be this good, we would probably have used it a bit more in the very first event. We will definitely be using it in future events because we now know what we can measure, and that is really valuable for us.” He said it was interesting to see how many guests really participated in the lounge sessions and how many tables and booths they visited.
He particularly mentioned, “ The analytics is really cool for us because sponsors always ask for ROI – the more analytics you can give them, the more value they can perceive- for example, we can show them just how many people clicked on their website from the event.”
Finplex is going full speed ahead with Airmeet this year. They have events planned in June, September, and November. Glenn disclosed, “We’ll use Airmeet quite a few times this year. For the event in June, we plan to do a full-day event with 8 or 10 speakers. That will take a bit more effort on our part, but we are convinced that the stability is there to successfully execute such an event.”
Besides these big events, two weeks from now, Finplex is also hosting a small internship fair on Airmeet. They have invited accountancy students that are looking for internships for the next year to this event. Firms looking to hire interns will be allotted virtual tables where they can interact with the students and find the best match.
Finplex was able to leverage Airmeet’s strengths and organize an event favorable for all stakeholders involved.
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