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Veterinary conferences pivot to the virtual

Can a veterinary professional be too educated? Can they know too much about veterinary medicine? Of course not, and the booming veterinary conference industry proves that pet-care professionals know that knowledge is power.

I suppose I should clarify: The veterinary conference industry was booming…before Covid19 hit.

Covid-19 and the conference industry

If your company is one that organises and delivers conferences to educate and connect veterinarians with medical breakthroughs, with cutting-edge technology and with one another, you may be wondering what the future holds. 

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You are no longer permitted to fill auditoriums with hundreds—or thousands—of people. In-person introductions may be scarce, and trade shows are starting to look like they might be things of the past. 

Your livelihood is at stake. That’s one way to look at it. 

You could also see this “new normal” as an opportunity to become a pioneer in the virtual conferencing niche…before it’s too late.

The demand for virtual

Before Covid19 made its appearance, conventional wisdom told us that even the smallest, local brick-and-mortar business needs a digital strategy. No website? No social media? No pre-recorded and live video? There would soon be no business.

The same is true in the conferencing realm, except the urgency is a bit more palpable. In December, 2019, Zoom had 10 million daily users. In the first quarter of 2020, that number rose to 200 million. This basic level of virtual conferencing has become a way of living and working…and it’s not expected to go anywhere. 75% of CEOs predict that video conferencing will replace in-person meetings, permanently.

Few businesses we remember from 30 years ago are still around, and with new technological developments weeding out the digitally impaired, the lifespan of the average business is growing shorter and shorter. 

In order to survive, you’ve got to invent new ways to engage and connect. You’ve got to get creative; you have to summon the courage to move into uncharted territory. 

Medical and technological breakthroughs aren’t taking holidays. Animals aren’t suspending their need for quality care. That means the demand for learning will not change—but the ways in which it’s delivered must.

How to get started

If you’ve ever attended a Zoom conference or set up a Skype call, then you have an idea about the basics of video conferencing. There are so many more features and capabilities available, but I would not suggest worrying yourself about all that is out there just yet.

Job #1 for you right now? Connect virtually, in any capacity. Something is better than nothing.

Start small. Facetime with someone for a one-on-one consultation. Set up a Google Meet. 

Then, add more participants. Increase the depth of your content and come up with new ways to boost engagement and experiential activities. 

Or, if you’d feel more comfortable consulting with a video conferencing professional, there are companies out there that will arrange it all for you. Beware, though: many of these companies are as new to virtual as you are, and just looking for ways to make a pound in the midst of this “new normal.” So, if you do intend to outsource the hosting of your virtual conferences, do your homework and get references.

Repeat what works. If you have one satisfied customer, use their positive feedback to bring more onboard. 

Grow your audience. With an eye toward excellence (not perfection), continually work to build the reach of your new virtual offerings. Ask for referrals and offer “bring a colleague” incentives. 

Market your events. Deliver only the highest quality, in-demand content. 

Engage. Entertain. Educate. Move through any apprehension and focus on testing, experimenting, and learning.

Promote the idea that video conferencing reduces petrol consumption. It saves attendees money on hotel stays and travel. It allows them to remain at home with their families, rather than trekking to international sites.

Do this right, and you’ll see your client list grow—in number and interest—because you’ve turned them on to the benefits of virtual. 

Having the audacity to go virtual

This new virtual world we’re doing business in will be an ever-changing landscape. It’s going to require flexibility and ingenuity. Stagnation—or waiting for your digital abilities, delivery and program to be perfected—will result in your business being swallowed up by more adventurous companies.

This is the time to be bold, to experiment and try new things. Solve a real problem. Take one step today, and a few more tomorrow. The pandemic has given you an opportunity to attempt something different, without being judged for not getting it entirely right. The world recognises that there’s a massive learning curve in progress right now, and from that you can draw the confidence to give this virtual thing a shot.


By Anthony Chadwick founder and CEO, The Webinar Vet

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