In 2017, ASM Global Asia Pacific, managers of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, brought together leading drones expert, Associate Professor Dr Catherine Ball and Brisbane based Carillon Conference Management (CCM) to create the very first international conference about the business and application of drones.
The Congress, now in its fourth year, decided to go hybrid for its 2020 edition and, defying all odds, expanded to include robotics along with drones and autonomous systems under the one conference banner with record results.
The Congress featured 76 expert Australian and international speakers and an accompanying exhibition with displays by drone and robotic manufacturers and developers, and organisations including the Australian Army and the Civil Aviation Authority.
Congress Co-Founder, Gordon says the biggest challenge was the extra time required to organise the event. “We estimate a hybrid event adds 45% more in organisational time. That and getting the technology right and fit for purpose. To present the virtual component professionally takes skilled technicians, specialist equipment and the right software.”
WoDaRC saw the unveiling of new and more reliable technology in ‘Confercast’ – a fusion of TV studio broadcast and conference live broadcast designed to deliver superior engagement experiences for delegates.
Other learnings from what was one of the few very successful conferences to be held during COVID; late registrations, with 30% of delegates registering in the last 48 hours; and being realistic about what you can deliver, both physically and digitally. Organisers also advocate finding ways to provide extra value to the physical delegates who have made the effort to support the event and attend in person.
On-site security & off-site legacies
“The partnership with the BCEC team cannot be overstated. The Centre is a true partner in this enterprise,” says Gordon. “Under the Centre’s Site Specific COVID Safe Plan they took care of many of the COVID administrative issues, providing ongoing assistance during the event. BCEC also operates under VenueShield, one of the world’s most advanced hygiene safeguards which offers a great feeling of security to delegates.”
Organisers also say they managed to seize the opportunity to expand the relevance of the Congress into entirely new markets and will work with some of those new connections to bring them physically to future editions or as repeat virtual delegates. “We have started a new marketing dynamic”, says Gordon, with a number of those indicating they will register again and recommending to others in their respective fields.
Among these committed converts are members of the US Air Force stationed in Guam and park rangers in Zimbabwe who are looking at drones to monitor poaching.