Communications Day Australasia is Australia and New Zealand’s most respected source of daily telecom industry news and commentary. CommsDay events are where Australia’s telecoms leaders meet. The flagship business event for the organisation is the CommsDay Summit in Sydney. The events provide industry professionals with access to exceptional speakers and delegates, unparalleled networking, and unrivalled brand exposure for sponsors.
Although impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of CommsDay Summit 2020 felt strongly that it was important during these times to continue to have a consistent presence in the market and give the industry an opportunity to come together especially with restrictions easing during early 2021.
The 2020 event calendar fell into two different categories: April’s fully virtual event; and a two-day hybrid event in October.
The two-day October event was run as a hybrid event with the in-person component being held in Sydney at The Fullerton Hotel. The in-person component, attended by an average of 82 people across the two days, was very well received by all those that attended. The hybrid component of the event saw an average of 272 people tune in across the two days. In 2021 the Summit will be held in May at the same venue.
There were two challenges identified by the event organisers: ensuring the event could be run safely; and ensuring communications with delegates and sponsors were clear and frequent.
The COVID protocols and safety aspects not featured in the planning of an event in past years were a challenge. The development of a COVID Safe plan and ensuring all aspects of the event are safe and fall within the NSW Government guidelines were critical to the successful outcome of the event and the satisfaction of delegates and speakers.
2020 tested the resilience of event organisers. The organisers of CommsSummit 2020 found news ways of connecting with their industry. Flexibility and agility in event management was key to adapting to conditions of the day. From running a fully virtual two-day conference, then following up later in the year with a hybrid event as restrictions eased, the organisers were able to bring together delegates and speakers both virtually and physically without compromising on the quality or integrity of the event.
Another key aspect is keeping communications a key priority through the planning process. It was important that delegates and key stakeholders were informed and kept up to date, at times on a daily basis, of the approach being taken.
The event experience
There’s no denying CommsDay Summit 2020 was a different experience than previous years. With speakers being remote or pre-recorded, while others being in-person at the venue, event organisers had to roll with the punches to deliver a seamless event experience.
Delegates who attended the event in-person were very appreciative of all the measures were put in place to ensure the event was run safely and that COVID Safe regulations were taken seriously and implemented for everyone’s safety. It was also important for event organisers that for those delegates attending virtually they were also able to enjoy the event experience, including the ability to view the full agenda, speaker biographies as well as the ability to interact in sessions by asking questions.
The value of business events
The importance of hosting the two events in 2020 has been paramount for the organisers’ client base. Given the challenging times faced in 2020, those delegates able to attend these events either in-person or virtually very much appreciated the continuity of business and connectivity and how the events held were executed enabling them to continue ‘business as usual’. For sponsors the ability for the organisers to continue hosting the events meant continued brand exposure for their investment. Due to the confidence from both delegates and sponsors, the scheduled events for 2021 have seen all sponsors reconfirm their attendance and the event organisers are extremely confident that whatever the environment they will be delivering a well-run and executed event.
The Fullerton Hotel were a key partner in the event delivery for CommsDay Summit 2020. There were two key aspects to running a COVID Safe event: pre-event planning; and event day experience.
In the lead up to the event, the venue were able to advise on COVID Safe protocols, providing detailed information about their safety procedures that could be communicated to delegates and sponsors. The venue was also able to submit the event’s COVID Safe plan for to the NSW Government prior to the event on behalf of the event organiser.
On the event day, the venue had a number of protocols in place to ensure delegate, speaker and their staff safety:
- At the entry to the hotel a QR code was placed with a hotel staff member present to ensure all delegates registered for contact tracing. This was digitally stored via the Cloud and recovered if required.
- Thermal scanning for temperature checks was done remotely in the lobby as well as a manual temperature check before entering the ballroom area. This was also a requirement for all hotel staff at the employee entry points.
- All breaks and lunches were served to the guests seated, with no break stations of any kind.
- All staff wore masks and gloves ensuring the highest standard of hygiene at all times.
- Cleaning of high touch points was conducted by banquets on a frequent basis during the event as well as deep cleaning overnight of all the ballrooms and function areas.
Looking to the future
For the telecommunications industry 2021 will be a year of investment for Australia’s telecoms operators.
Investment in 5G will hit fever pitch with Telstra and Optus aiming to reach most of the country and TPG ramping up its competitive challenge. Rural telecoms won’t miss out either with state governments in NSW and Victoria budgeting $950m between them for network builds. Massive data centres are coming online in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and elsewhere.
CommsDay Summit 2021 is the event where delegates will hear from the people driving these investments and building tomorrow’s telecom sector. From both incumbents and challengers. And they will learn about how they plan to monetise these massive new investments using latency, bandwidth, diversity and ubiquity as powerful tools to create new products and services.
For this reason especially, it is critical that the 2021 event to go ahead and bring together the industry to discuss and hear about the new developments. Now having held the event successfully as a hybrid last October (while Melbourne was in lockdown), our sponsors and delegates know that we are able to pivot the event and run it safely within the NSW government guidelines while producing an informative and interesting two-day event. Since last year, the response and commitment from the industry to the event this year has been strong and all past sponsors and delegates are keen to engage with the conference this year.
"Being able to push through those obstacles is something that everyone involved appreciated. It does take more planning and execution but don’t walk away from running the event. Your delegate base want to engage with each other so it is important this year that we move forward with events and instill that confidence across all sectors.” Veronica Kennedy-Good, Mindshare Events