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Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Resources, solutions and ideas to move forward

After the Covid-19 pandemic hit the meetings and events industry badly changing our daily lives all over the world, at AIM Group we continue to work and develop new solutions for our clients useful to respond to present challenges and limitations.
This is also an opportunity for the meetings industry to evolve and renew: at AIM Group we are reacting to these challenges, reinventing our activities, adapting to the disruptions and being prepared for the new normal.

A top-quality virtual Forum for the EFQM

The first digital edition of the annual forum registered a record-breaking number of attendees, 6 times more than usual. The success is due to a complete re-design of the event.

Early this year, EFQM (an innovative, not-for-profit organisation, fusing data-driven insights, curated learning and development for the benefits of organisations and individuals worldwide, powered by the EFQM Model) decided to hold their Forum on a virtual platform, after postponing it twice.

“AIM Group Brussels Office have been managing the EFQM Forum for many years now, always striving for the best solution for this prestigious client despite the pandemic” says Belgin Topkaya, Area Manager Western Europe AIM Group. “We supported the transformation of their annual forum and re-designed the event in order to leverage all the opportunities given by the digital format”.

As a matter of fact, the numbers confirmed this choice as the forum registered 2.428 participants, much higher than all previous editions, from all around the world, covering 96 countries, from New Zealand to Ecuador, from South Africa to Finland, taking into consideration the time difference, making the event management really challenging.

The first reason of this success is the decision to offer free participation to the first digital event proposed to the EFQM community. Extending the reach of the conference meant enabling a much higher number of people to participate. “A new happy audience today, could be a larger paying/interested audience tomorrow, also for hybrid or in-person events!” points out Belgin.

Also, it was decided to redefine the schedule programme of the event. The virtual programme included the EFQM Global Award ceremony with live connections to each applicant. It was not the EFQM Forum the community was accustomed to, but the short program and user- friendly platform have been really appreciated.

“Although this forum was a tremendous success as a virtual meeting, the feedback shows that indeed some participants missed the physical event, though other appreciated the possibility to attend at low cost with no travel needed, hence the hybrid format is foreseen as ideal solution. The virtual format was a new experience for all. A congress like no other congress, in a year like no other” concludes Belgin Topkaya

How Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags fair became digital with record numbers

Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, international Footwear & Accessory Fair, needed to re-think the format, moving to hybrid, and reinforce its communication. It was decided to realise a digital marketspace where exhibitors could present their catalogues and meet buyers in one-to-one appointments. Furthermore, for the first time, it was decided to offer the opportunity to deepen the industry topics thanks to the Expo Riva Show programme, a virtual stage with 34 speakers.

The results are really satisfying: 222 exhibitors companies attracted +21,000 views, and 9,000 products were consulted by +1,800 buyers. The Home Edition remains active over the coming months and the discussions will continue with six live talks.

AIM Group International supported the realisation of the Expo Riva Show, managing the organisational secretariat and the simultaneous translation, choosing the facilitator, managing the technical production of the live sessions of the Show and recording and broadcasting of all the videos.

AIM Communication provided this first digital event with a new communication plan, to strengthen its image and promote the participation of exhibitors and buyers, including brand strategy and design, all communication assets, promotional videos, newsletter, social media, etc

Next Generation Virtual Events

At AIM Group we collaborate with our clients to organise a second generation of virtual events, the native digital event, with advanced features:

- Revised conference schedules and transformed attendee experience, offering more possibilities to consult content on demand or splitting the event into sessions held over several days or weeks. (see the ICare 2020 Digital Weeks).

- 3D immersive platforms, customised, pleasant and easy. (see the FIMP House or the Virtual SIOT).

- Fostering Virtual Networking, providing opportunities to meet new people, with spontaneous interactions. Virtual lounges, moderators, ice-break live sessions can help achieve this goal.

- Engagement & interaction with sponsors. Virtual booths, one-to-one or one-to-many meetings and video chats, on-demand corporate videos, brochures and info materials are possible solutions.

- Social and CSR events. From live happy hours with a shared toast to a virtual game or quiz (See the SIR Virtual game). Fund raising initiatives, knowledge sharing offered to public or green CO2 compensation project can add a social legacy.

As you usually release your creativity to personalise and make each in-person event memorable and with a strong identity, you must also do the same in the virtual environment

A virtual congress realised over three weeks to facilitate participation

ICare 2020 – Digital Weeks is the title of the annual congress of SIAARTI, the Italian Society of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Intensive Care and Resuscitation, realised from 9th to 25th October.

The scientific program of a virtual congress followed a vastly different structure from the physical one, since we converted the full program following different logistics. In order not to overload the days of the conference, we decided to go on air only in the afternoon and to propose the contents over three weekends, allowing the anaesthesiologists-resuscitators to reconcile the education activity with their intense work.

Another novelty was to make available pre-recorded sessions of on-demand content from the first day of the congress. In this way, we further expanded the range of topics covered and all these sessions will be accessible for one year to give everyone the opportunity to have time to consult them.

During the live sessions, the participants had online chats available to directly ask questions to the speakers and sometimes there was also a live polling. The session format that was most successful was certainly the interviews and especially the double interview, with parallel questions to the two speakers

“Travelling with ICARE”: SIAARTI meets the doctors on the road with an innovative format

A SIAARTI truck will visit some major hospitals for a program of live events that are going to the physician rather than the other way around.

“Travelling with ICARE” is the title of the tour organized by SIAARTI, the Italian Society of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Intensive Care and Resuscitation, together with AIM Group International. This will involve a series of live events dedicated to anaesthesiologists and resuscitators, which will culminate with the Virtual ICARE 2020 Congress - Digital weeks.

SIAARTI would like, not only to shift from in-presence to virtual format, but also to reach the doctors who have worked so intensively over the last few months, to meet them and discuss with them the most important topics and challenges related to the Covid-19 emergency

From 21st September to 4th October, the SIAARTI truck will take on tour the values and most important topics for the anaesthesiologists and resuscitators, visiting the hospitals of 8 Italian cities: Turin, Milan, Brescia, Padua, Bologna, Rome, Naples and Bari.

The “Travelling with ICARE” tour will involve a series of live events held every day from 10:00 to 17:00, offering physicians the opportunity to meet experts, debate and attend round tables and interviews. All the events will be realised in a meeting area in a pop-up outdoor marquee and will follow strict compliance to healthy and preventive measures and social distancing.

AIM Group and SIR presented the SIR Run at the Giffoni Film Festival

The Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR) and AIM Group International took part for the first time at the 50th edition of the Giffoni Film Festival. We used this opportunity to promote and disseminate the culture of well-being among young people. During a SIR masterclass which was organized by AIM Group International, the SIR Run 2020 was launched as part of the annual Rheumatology awareness raising project.

The SIR Run is a virtual marathon which will be held throughout Italy to raise awareness among the public about rheumatic disease. Each participant will run individually uniting under the banner: «Let’s run together against rheumatological diseases».

Last year AIM organized the SIR Run for the first time. This year, considering the need for social distancing, we had the idea to organize a hybrid marathon. Each participant has been invited to run in their own city. They need to make 4 short videos, 30 seconds long with their mobile phone which feature part of their journey. Each video allows the participant to tell who they are, why they love to run, their favorite place to run and their favorite place in their city. The selected videos will be used to make a short film about the beauty of Italy that will be presented during the 57th SIR National Congress to be held in Rimini from 25 to 28 November 2020.

CYTO Virtual 2020 the first-ever digital edition

When the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic forced the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) to cancel their live meeting in Philadelphia we were all saddened. However, cytometrists are a resourceful bunch and they quickly made the decision that they had to pivot to some sort of virtual offering and they needed to do it quickly.

Thanks to a tremendous team effort that included AIM New York’s building of an exhibit hall with nearly 90 separate companies, the ISAC membership came together to contribute to a two-day meeting that was attended by over 1.100 people! With enthusiastic support from our vendors and the community, they were about to offer a chance for scientists worldwide to come together for a few days to renew their excitement for the field of cytometry.

We offered live CHAT boxes where attendees could pose questions and interact directly with a staff member from the exhibiting company and our post-show analytics were able to provide contact information for those attendees who interacted with the exhibitors’ booths. Also, the virtual event remained active for 30 days after the CYTOvirtual2020 event so exhibitors were happy to see the community continuing to engage even days and weeks after the event dates!

How we turned the World Systemic Sclerosis Congress into a virtual event

Supposed to take place in Prague last March, the 6th World Systemic Sclerosis Congress scheduled for March in Prague was quickly transformed in a virtual congress with a rich scientific program, interactive sessions, appealing space for sponsors and contributions from patients. It was a success, with increased numbers and good participation.

The solution chosen is a blended live and pre-recorded panel of presentations, uploaded into the platform even before the three-day live event (held 12-14 July) to give participants the possibility of viewing them in advance and be able to comment and discussed them during live presentations with more preparation. All the presentations are available on the congress platform until the 20th December, allowing registered participants to come back and easily consult them.

As for the sponsors, a virtual exhibition area was realised, with a multimedia library to consult and live Corporate Satellite Symposia were organised with interaction. The posters area presented a list of +400 posters with 3-minutes audio presentations.

The virtual congress was smoothly realised with positive numbers: 1.367 healthcare participants, with a +15% on previous edition, +300 patients connected; 5.235 viewers of the pre-recorded presentations, 5.802 clicks on the sponsors booths, 2.500 live attendees at corporate symposia, 9.600 visits to e-posters area.

The U.S. Association of Pathology Chairs went pivoted the virtual environment

Our New York Office has collaborated to organise, in a very short time frame, the first-ever virtual edition of the important scientific meeting of the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC), delivering an impactful and effective digital experience for exhibitors, attendees and sponsors.

There is definitely a “Congratulations!” in order for the staff, volunteers and participants, who made APC’s first-ever virtual meeting such a robust and successful event! The Association was so glad to “see” many colleagues throughout the program.

Attendees gave consistently favourable reviews of greater opportunities for input through the chat feature that allowed more people to engage in the moderated discussions. The discussions were supported by traditional presentations with narration recorded by speakers, which were made available as “homework” two weeks in advance of the conference.

Exhibitors were able to post pre-event Video Promos on their pages as well as open private chat rooms during the event days which enabled visibility and one on one engagement that is so essential to offer at these virtual events. Together the speakers, attendees and exhibitors united in support for APC through this period of sudden change and created an invaluable educational experience

Six steps to plan successful Virtual and Hybrid Events

During the pandemic many corporate and association clients had their first experience of fully virtual event, often planning it in very short time frames. While the digital pivot is a necessity, in unprecedented circumstances, the need to become digital sometimes can pave the way for virtual events with little or no strategy and design, lack of creativity and professionalism.

That is why AIM Group decided to leverage the experience gained from our international client experiences to prepare guidelines on how to plan and organise virtual events that satisfy the mix of different stakeholders - attendees, speakers and sponsors, leveraging the new opportunities offered by the virtual formats and channels.

“The organization of a virtual and hybrid event requires a DCO, not a typo (!), this is a DIGITAL CONFERENCE ORGANIZER, a team with specific knowledge and competences and the ability to offer strategic guidance on planning events with full or partial digital components” outlines Annalisa Ponchia.

Before embarking on a new virtual or hybrid event, you need to follow a strategic map and complete a number of actions. The methodology presented in the White Paper, downloadable for free from the AIM Group website, suggests six easy steps.

How we went hybrid for Mundipharma advisory board in Prague and Bratislava

The Pharma Company Mundipharma asked AIM Prague Office to run their National Advisory Board (Czech Rep. + Slovakia) for Top Key Opinion Leaders. Originally this event was planned for March and all the experts should have meet in Prague. Due to COVID 19 preventive measurements it was not possible to run the event, but as the meeting was important for the company future strategy they decided to run as soon as the situation allowed.

When events up to 100 participants were permitted in Prague we started planning the event operations, choosing the hybrid format as it was not clear whether or under what conditions it would be possible to travel. For the Client, it was not only the most important event for future business but also the first experience with a virtual event with external experts. We set up the venues in Prague and Bratislava, then built two AV studios and created a virtual meeting room managing the live streaming of all the event. Everything went very well. We got big thank you not only from the Client but also from the experts:

Prof. Ivan Rychlik, Head of 1st Department of Medicine of Charles University: “The fact that we weren´t all at the same table didn´t interrupt our professional discussion at all”.

Dr. Miroslav Vytasil, Medical Advisor Mundipharma CZ: “Thank AIM for the whole project preparation. It was a super experience with great cooperation. I really appreciate it and am looking forward for the next event with AIM”.

Monica Freire chair of the Global Task Force of National PCO Associations.

Our Monica Freire, Business Manager Congress Unit Lisbon Office AIM Group, is the chair of the International strategic task force created by the International Association for Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), uniting 8 National PCO Associations for the first time in its 52-year history.

The aim of the work team is to connect and share Coronavirus-related data and case studies and use their combined expertise to create and distribute safe practice guidelines for Professional Congress Organisers (PCOs) worldwide. Whilst many governments around the world begin to reduce current Coronavirus-related restrictions, others are doing the opposite by reinstating lockdowns and quarantines as potential second waves of the virus threaten.

Monica Freire, who is also a IAPCO Council Member, says: “I think that in this unprecedented and difficult times we need more than ever to join forces and promote collaboration among event professionals at all levels to support each other, define best practices, disseminate correct information on the market and enable constructive dialogues with local authorities. We will work hard to define soon a common protocol for safe events around the globe and make it available to all organisers and clients involved in this challenge”.

How virtual can multiply sponsorship opportunities

The transition to digital & hybrid events has been accelerated and most stakeholders have decided to embrace new experiences and have embarked on the path to virtual e-meetings.

As a matter of fact, there is no need to choose between two alternatives: the virtual experience can definitely add value to your next live event. Virtual meetings add a new string to the bow of the event industry, as a sustainable, efficient and measurable tool.

Admittedly, the context and the channels has changed. Therefore it is necessary to adopt a new approach.

Today we must think out of the box, re-design new sponsorship opportunities to engage with decision-makers and delegates in a virtual environment.

Digital technologies present a wider range of channels and tools to consider. However, it is the human interaction that still represents the essential driver of the sponsor. We need to develop new ways to maximize the sponsor-delegate relationship even in a virtual event.

Here are the 6 immediate benefits of being a virtual sponsor:

LEAN Virtual Meetings facilitate discussions among hospital ophthalmologists

AIM Group is supporting the organisation of a virtual task force involving ophthalmologists from forty Retina Hospital Centers from different cities in Italy. They will work on defining a new diagnostic and therapeutic journey to ensure the safety of ophthalmological patients in hospitals.

After the lockdown, with the gradual recovery of usual activities, it became indispensable to redesign the patient’s journey within the hospital structures in order to guarantee both the required therapies and safety.

A group of specialists decided to promote the LEAN - Virtual Meeting on Patient Journey project, which involves 40 hospitals and will involve regional discussion tables, with support from Milan’s Politecnico University. These meetings, scheduled between June and July, will be realised on virtual platforms to facilitate participation and interaction and overcoming travel and distancing issues.

This project is realised with the technical support and organizational secretariat of AIM Group International and the non-binding sponsorship of Novartis.

Discover our Virtual Events and Digital Evolution

Your Business can’t wait. You know it, we know it too!

In these unprecedented times, brands, organizations, enterprises, associations may realize that welcoming change is the only solution to their challenges. Events had to be postponed or cancelled and fresh content is likely to become outdated if not shared properly. On top of that, networking and exchanging opinions got more difficult and the need arised to get creative for stakeholders to market their audiences.

Well, these are times when staying real means also embracing the virtual.. and our experience is your best shot at keeping your world running.

We value the blend between technology, goals, content and strategy: that’s where the ultimate Digital Evolution takes place!

Enjoy our newest VIDEO and contact our teams to design your evolution.

A scientific congress transformed into a virtual, successful experience

Due to the Covid-19 Crisis, the Italian Academy of Prosthetic Dentistry (AIOP) had to re-organise the annual two-day Mediterranean Meeting originally scheduled to take place in the congress center in Riccione.

After a careful evaluation of all the likely scenarios, pros and cons, AIOP together with AIM Group decided not to cancel or postpone but to transform the congress into a virtual meeting. AIOP was the first Italian scientific society to experiment with this kind of solution.

In just two weeks, the congress was transformed into a fully virtual event developed on the customised AIOP On Air” virtual platform, which offered effective solutions for a 360-degree congress experience, such as:

- Active online audience engagement. - A virtual television studio with a realistic and immersive layout. - A well-structured virtual area dedicated to sponsors. - All the content made available on demand for one year. - Multiple education experiences. - Social interaction and informal moments.

Results was very positive with a +130% increase in attendance and many benefits…

80% of Corporate Sponsors are interested in investing in virtual events but they need interaction

AIM Group International carried out the survey “Sponsoring events during the Covid Crisis” amongst 350 pharmaceutical and biomedical company representatives covering all major therapeutics areas to understand if and how companies should invest in digital events.

Here is a snapshot of the survey findings:

58% would sponsor in-presence events, to be held in Autumn 2020.

72% would be interested in a hybrid solutions that combines in-presence with digital events.

78% would be interested in sponsoring fully virtual events.

• How a virtual event should be like? Interactive, flexible, 3D and able to track data.

In particular, sponsors are ready to give support to realise new virtual experiences, provided that scientific content is relevant, participants are engaged and interaction with sponsors is guaranteed…

7 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations

As the smart working is the most common situation in these unprecedented times, it is easy to found ourselves in some tricky new situations such meeting a client, presenting them a project or convincing our board of directors in front of our computer. Here are seven tips around what to know before you go live and get better results.

  1. Be Brief. Use interactive activities to keep your audience engaged.
  2. Be Simple. Keep slides simple — avoid too many words, graphics and animation features.
  3. Be Prepared. Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk.
  4. Be a TV Personality. Look straight into your camera, not the screen. Raise your voice, standing can sometimes help.
  5. Prepare the set-up. Ensure you have the correct set-up and surroundings. Light yourself well, avoid windows at your back.
  6. Be Specific. Ask pointed questions to avoid too many people answering at once.
  7. Be Synchronized. Transitions between topics and slides are good opportunities to get people reengaged to your talk.

Strengthening communication in times of crisis and social distancing

“At a time of momentous change, where an unexpected situation forces us to review our ways of working and communicating, it is essential to stay in touch with all stakeholders”explains Max Galli, president of vangogh communication agency, part of AIM Group International. “Companies, associations and organisations should transform this time of interruption and distancing into an opportunity to strengthen relationships and affirm company values. We need to create a real cultural strategy”.

With this purpose, for example, vangogh designed an ad hoc communication concept that helps companies communicate with their stakeholders: The Good News Portal. This dedicated corporate website aims to share positive messages, or can be more focused on keep employees updated about company’s latest actions to face the Covid crisis and the safety measures implemented involving collaborators.

The project can include in a modular way: a related editorial plan on social media, a dedicated newsletter, content production for the institutional website, an advertising campaign and the realisation of digitalevents.

When and How In-Person Events Will Resume

There’s one question on every meeting planner’s mind: When will face-to-face events resume? Those who craft meetings for the medical community are anticipating the possibility of a particularly long lull before in-person gatherings return.

Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, vice president AIM Group International, interviewed by Northstar Meetings Group reflects on present issues and future perspectives for medical meetings at international level.

“Clearly for the moment, we have to continue going virtual; but in the last quarter of the year, we may have small, local meetings,” said Buongiorno. “So, we are thinking of some interesting solutions. If we have to organize a national meeting of 1,000 people but can only organize meetings of up to 200, why not create different hubs? So, a meeting of 200 in one city, 200 in another city and so on. We are actually starting this for an association. They don’t want to lose the face-to-face and are not sure they can have the meeting as usual, but we can probably do smaller groups.” ...

Why Virtual Events need Digital Marketing and Engagement like never before?

Each event has its own story, its own value and purpose. Other than that, it also has its own audience. In order to effectively reach and engage that audience, we must create a digital marketing strategy.

But… what changes when live events can’t happen and when virtual solutions are the new way to meet? How can we offer something of meaning to our audiences if we are constantly receiving links to webinars, online resources, podcasts and recordings?

We, at AIM Group International, are providing with solutions to exploit the online stage for their events, but also we are putting much value into all those collateral services and solutions to enrich the journey of our clients amongst innovative formats they are approaching for the first time. We are designing new pathways for organizations in order to enhance their online presence by revising their visual identity, refactoring their website, reformulating their communication channels to effectively promote their activities, as well as identifying effective opportunities for sponsors to showcase their offer.

In addition to that, we find that Digital Marketing has never been so important before, during and after a Virtual Event

What will the Future of Meetings be like?

The unprecedented crisis caused by Covid-19 is heavily impacting the meetings and events industry, with cancellations and postponements of events and the stop of all kind of small or big events by Governments. The situation will gradually recover, but this big change will remain and transform the way we organise events.

If audiences need to be engaged online in the short term, how likely do you see the integration of the online and the offline world when we’ll be back at meeting face2face? What’s your idea about meetings in the mid and long term?

Watch the video animation about the Future of Meetings on AIM Group Youtube channel

Lisbon is safe and clean …ready to host live events

The Lisbon Office of AIM Group got its “Safe and Clean” tag promoted by Turismo de Portugal for being part of those tourism enterprises and agencies compliant with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of COVID-19 and other possible infections.

This protocol is useful to reinforce confidence in the safety of the destination for events as well as to share common standards, set according to the recommendations of the DGS - Directorate-General for Health.

Waiting for the near time when in-presence events will be allowed in Portugal, the Lisbon team run a successful virtual meeting with 35 possible sponsors for the SPAIC (Portuguese Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology) Congress to be held in September.

We believe in the power of events. Do you?

The health emergency is impacting the personal and business life of millions of people worldwide.

Hard times inspire all of us to be united and to collaborate: it makes us stronger. As event professionals we are used to flexibility, problem solving and the ability to react to any issue. All our teams are playing their part in reducing the virus spreading, working remotely and defining preventive measures for future safe events. Organising effective events is our passion and innovation is in our DNA.

We are working side by side with our clients to find new solutions to overcome travel difficulties and reduce mass gathering risks. Our focus remains on planning and realising memorable, engaging events where people connect, interact, collaborate thanks to immersive experiences, not only face-to-face but also in a digital environment.

Our mind-set and main goal is more than ever to support you to make your events happen, because we strongly believe in the power of events. Do you?

Gianluca Buongiorno

President AIM Group International

European Robotics Forum: safe events can happen!

The Trade Fair and Congress Centre of Malaga (FYCMA) has just hosted the European Robotics Forum 2020 ‘Future Robotics: Unlocking Human Potential’ and the euRobotics Members General Assembly. Attracting around 800 entrepreneurs and experts, this three-day event is the largest and most influential of the robotics and artificial intelligence community in Europe.

The Coronavirus outbreak is, fo sure, a big concern, which everybody takes seriously. So in order to guarantee a smooth realisation of the forum, specific precautionary measures were taken and communicated and the congress was celebrated as planned. The Coronavirus Policy included:

  • A ‘No-Handshake-Policy’ in place, clearly communicated to participants;
  • The venue provided medical assistance onsite to check temperatures upon entering the building and to advise on any health concerns;
  • Hand sanitizers were available throughout the venue
  • Health information signs have been put up onsite.

This event is a positive example, that we hope to repeat, of how it can be possible to go ahead as planned in this challenging period.

Getting involved with the community

The AIM New York Office promoted a special initiative involving American pathologists to sustain the common effort to supply Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at academic medical centres with the materials useful for testing COVID.

Kris Herltiz, managing director AIM Group New York Office, along with the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC), sent an email message to all the contacts in this field in AIM database asking for help both for immediate supplies, educational help or financial support for national departments of pathology fighting the health emergency. Being involved in community causes is always a good practice, but in these critical days it is even more important.

Do you need any assistance with your next project?

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