How the Hinman Dental Society evolved its annual tradition during the pandemic
Flash back to spring 2020: The Hinman Dental Society was in the final planning week before its annual meeting when COVID-19 sent the world into lockdown forcing the event’s cancellation. After this sudden change, Hinman was determined to move forward with a safe and rewarding event in this new world.
Taking great care with the event approach, the event team drafted three different strategies: In-person, virtual, and hybrid. After speaking with the Hinman Dental Society members, Hinman sent surveys to both exhibitors and attendees to get their feedback.
Dentists and dental staff were eager to attend — both to earn their CE credits and to continue the annual tradition of meeting in-person. But with Covid guidelines in mind and wanting to reach those who weren’t comfortable traveling, Hinman moved forward with a hybrid model.
The challenge, however, was figuring how to conduct a hybrid meeting (its first ever) and make the experience valuable for all attendees, no matter where they chose to connect.
Known for its strong educational core, Hinman understood its content strategy had to lead the charge. With that in mind, the team took a few different approaches to ensure value for all:
Hinman partnered with Freeman to bring both the virtual and in-person events to life, utilizing OnlineEvent Pro™ to create its virtual platform. The virtual courses were pre-recorded with live Q&As at the end of each session, offering maximum attendee engagement. Private production Slack chats and virtual green rooms for speakers helped ensure that all digital engagements happened seamlessly.
Designing the in-person experience with health and safety in mind, special queue lines were used to maintain safe distancing as attendees entered the exhibit hall and the show floor offered wider aisles and varied time slots for attendees to explore in small groups. The speaker sessions provided an open seating floor plan to accommodate social distancing for attendees.
Both the virtual and in-person components of the event went well with roughly 30% attending in-person.
Despite first-timer hybrid hesitation, the event satisfied both virtual and in-person attendees during a tough year. Attendees talked about how happy they were to attend in-person noting that attending this live event “was a tradition” — one they didn’t want to miss.
Virtually, there were a total of 350,981 interactions and 4560 unique visitors. What’s more, one of the virtual courses with the highest attendance (1171 unique live views) was Hinman’s New Product Demonstration. This showcase highlighted sponsors and their new solutions, gave them more visibility beyond the show floor. This course was a standard offering in previous years, but this virtual version truly demonstrated the community building Hinman provides for both exhibitors and attendees.