Every year the Institute for Sport Management and Recreation Policy (ISB) organizes an annual convention for its members: the 295 local authorities for sport and physical activities in over three hundred cities in Flanders – Belgium. But in 2020 this conference was cancelled with most other events, due to corona lockdowns.
When these lockdowns continued in 2021 ISB decided to invite all its members to join a digital gathering. A two day long online event, with a choice of activities in the morning and afternoon. The importance of this event was clear. Even during a lockdown local authorities need to make plans for recreational activities. It is one of the most important ways to deal with difficulties: sport and recreation.
ISB asked DDG Belgium to assist. DDG has a lot of experience with live online events and DDG knows how to work with platforms that enable engagement from the audience. A live online event should not only be a bunch of speakers and many viewers, but also an opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, give opinions and vote in polls. ISB also wanted to use a platform that could be customized to reflect its look and feel.
One talkshow, 3 keynotes and 35 webinars
The first day started with a short word of welcome and a talkshow, hosted by sport journalist Ruben Van Gucht. After a short coffee break there were two rounds of parallel sessions, so every participant could choose between seven different workshops in each round. The afternoon was reserved for moderated exchanges between delegates from all cities. They discussed topics such as promotion, infrastructure, pools and citizen inclusion.
The second day started with a choice of two keynotes, followed by three rounds of parallel sessions. That adds up to 35 smaller meetings during two days, comparable with webinars. Always seven at the same time, so that demanded some organizational skills. ISB even published a special convention guide (pdf), with introductions to the main presentations and an overview of all parallel sessions.
DDG also provided a few sideshows. There was a general lounge where participants were greeted and invited to join a Zumba workout. In between sessions all visitors could network or visit companies that are active suppliers in the domains of sport and recreation.
Eighty speakers, more than 800 paying participants
The online convention counted more than 800 paying participants who listened to over eighty different speakers. DDG made sure all speakers had an opportunity to rehearse their online presentation, as most of them tuned-in from home. That was also a way to make sure that connections, sound and light were in order.
Two project-managers from DDG were available in the central studio where the talkshow and keynotes took place, to make sure the whole operation progressed smoothly. They checked light and sound of the central shows, and ensured that all different streams ended up in that online convention.
Some sessions were more popular than others, that is inevitable. But ISB now has a library full of webinars that it can share with those members that couldn’t attend. You can find a report and the talkshow online. And ISB had its first experience with a digital convention. That could be useful in the future, when a mixture of face-to-face and digital presence might be the next new in events.
(photo: Elio d’Hooge)
Every year the Institute for Sport Management and Recreation Policy (ISB) organizes an annual convention for its members
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