ELRIG (European Laboratory Research & Innovation Group) is a leading European not-for-profit organization that exists to provide outstanding scientific content to the life science community. With more than 12,000 life science professionals across the UK, Europe, USA and Japan, ELRIG benefits members by providing high impact networking events to enable the exchange of information within disciplines and across academic and biopharmaceutical organisations on an open access basis.
The ELRIG team have been using our system for over 10 years now, so we were intrigued to understand what they thought of our overall delivery, service and support. We interviewed Tara Shanks, Events Manager at ELRIG.
1: What’s your background? I’m a Chartered Management Accountant . I joined ELRIG ten years ago, originally as book keeper after taking a career break to raise a family. Since then, I’ve taken on many varied roles within the company, more recently resulting in me becoming the Events Manager! We are a small team, but supported by a wider network of very talented professionals. There are three of us employed in the ELRIG, the rest of the team is made up by a volunteer-led Board and General Committee, which includes people from AstraZeneca, CRAC, CRUK, GlaxoSmithKline LifeArc and many other leading drug discovery organisations. This breadth of industry representation gives us the ability to have lots of fresh, varying perspectives on what our community need and ensure that all our activities meet their needs.
2: What were you looking for in a solution when you came to us? Originally, we were looking to automate our registration system for our face to face events, as we were struggling with a manual system and it was difficult to analyse the data. Jon (eventflo Founder), had worked with us from the beginning of our activities, so had a good understanding of what was required, and what our challenges were. As we grew, so did our needs and so did eventflo’s solution. It very soon became, a partnership and remains so today. When the pandemic first hit, it became quickly apparent that if we wanted to continue to keep our members connected, we’d have to transition our learning and networking events online. It was essential to us that we continued to deliver the service promised to our members and help them feel connected to each other. So our conversations with the eventflo team evolved into a virtual package offering.
3: How has the pandemic affected you? We had never ran our events virtually before, and we started, with the help of the eventflo team, by moving our networking events online. This was the start of our webinar series, which evolved into our Hot Topics in Drug Discovery series. Jon and the eventflo team helped us with this, which gave us the confidence to organise a fully on-line conference. Drug Discovery is our flagship event, with over 1300 delegates, 120 booths and 50 talks, normally over 2 days, all of which is free-of-charge to attend. Our business model solely relies on the sponsorship sales we get from vendors, normally suppliers of reagents and equipment to the life science market place, which funds the important work we do. This is why it was essential for us to have a solution that would work when the pandemic hit.
4: What other possible solutions did you consider? We did originally consider other virtual platforms, and we carefully assessed all the available solutions in the marketplace and selected the best possible one that would suit our specific needs. There were several factors that we took into consideration when selecting a provider, and those were value for money, flexibility in customising elements of the platform to suit our needs, and general support available.
5: Why did you ultimately choose us as your event partner? Ultimately, it was the team’s ability to work as an extension of our team that has set them apart. We worked really well together and had a 2-way exchange of ideas. The solutions they responded with just blew us away. No request was too tricky for the eventflo team, they held our hand the whole way through the process which I really appreciated. Other companies would have charged significantly more for unlimited posters, vendors and tracks, whereas with eventflo the cost was only incrementally higher than the standard package. The level of customisation they offer is second to none, the technology has evolved with us and our changing needs.
6: How did our team help with implementation? We had clear and constant communication right the way through and any issues were dealt with immediately. We had control right down to the individual images used, and vendors quickly grasped how to use the system. We even conducted a survey to find out what was important to our vendors, and using these insights, eventflo fine-tuned the functionality. This continual tweaking has meant that we just don’t need to keep re-inventing the wheel each time. It feels as if we are totally in sync and even though this didn’t originally start out as a long-term solution, I fully expect to be working with the eventflo team for digital events well into the future.
7. What do you think would have been different had you gone with a different supplier? Quite simply, we wouldn’t have created the levels of engagement with our vendors and attendees that we have achieved through the eventflo platform. Our customers continually tell us how much they enjoy participating in our events because they find it so easy to use! Another big advantage for our exhibitors is the speed with which they can get their data post-event. It’s dramatically aided their sales efforts as they can act on the data really quickly.
8. Did you have any concerns? Well for me it was absolutely essential that aside from all the great functionality offered by the eventflo digital solution, the technology didn’t let us down on the day of the event. Any time we have had an issue, the eventflo team have jumped straight on it. Because we now run so many events using the eventflo platform, there was always the danger that the team would become complacent about “churning” out the same formula again and again. But they didn’t, they took the time to understand our changing requirements from event to event and ensure they delivered on those specific bits of functionality. Having faith in the technology gives us the breathing space to consider the more important things, such as content and format improvements we need to make for the future.
9. What Measurable Benefits Have You Seen? / Can you share any metrics/KPIs that show the success you have enjoyed with our service? We have just run our annual CRISPR Event which was a great success. In 2020 we had 400 registrants and 280 delegates. For CRISPR 2021 we had hoped to replicate these numbers but we actually ended up with 1141 registrants, with a vastly improved geographical-spread of where they came from approx. 50% UK, 27% EU, 12% US. Our conversion rate is now 55%, which is also a good improvement on when we first went virtual. We also achieved our revenue target on our flagship Drug Discovery Digital, and beat the targets for the first three events in 2021 which as you know in this current climate is no mean feat. Thanks to the eventflo team taking care of the infrastructure and ensuring everything ran smoothly, we were able to focus on the other aspects of the event which would add to the participant experience. For example, we ran the conference days slightly later than normal to make it accessible to different time zones, and we adapted the length and format of the talks to create a more interactive experience. We are still adapting the format as we go!
10. Is there anything else we should know? To anyone reading this that has been thinking of organising their next event online but doesn’t know where to start, do contact Jon and his team. They will give you all the help you need, and work with you until you get the results you want. There are no doubt going to be bumps along the way as we navigate our way through this pandemic. But there will be opportunities too, so we’re excited about the future! We have no doubt that the eventflo team will play an integral part in that future, by facilitating how we operate in a post-pandemic world.
Registration can be accessed through both the native mobile app and event website.
Exhibitors admin page for easy self- management of their content and staff registrations
Through your admin console manage all transactions, credits and monitor registrations via the graphical reports page.