We all know that this year has been tough due to the Corona Virus breakout.
Fewer Jobs. Some closed earlier, some not even started.
Less opportunity. Not all contractors wanted to pay people for the quarantine period, so the vast majority of the requests were for local personnel.
Less networking. All the conferences have been canceled.
But Oceanology International tried to still deliver something by going fully online building the OiConnect platform.
Was it a good idea? Totally!
Was it developed up to its full potential? Not at all.
Let’s see all the mistakes they did and how they could have acted instead.
Note: as seen on Hellen Shipping News
Oi Connect saw 2,843 attendees from 117 countries actively engage on the virtual platform, including 138 exhibiting companies.
Those seems big numbers, but just remember that they were expecting 6000+ attendees...
What is Oceanology International?
As described on the official website:
Held in London, Oceanology International has firmly established itself as the world-leading ocean technology marine science exhibition and conference. Every edition, Oceanology International brings together the latest technologies and thought leaders worldwide.
Attracting visitors from a variety of industries, including oil & gas, marine renewables and maritime defence, Oceanology International gives the opportunity for buyers and suppliers to do business in one location. Oceanology International offers structured networking opportunities to help suppliers establish relationships and secure business on a global scale.
And I could say it is true.
It is an amazing event, where you can see new technologies (both instruments and software) and meet tons of people working in the marine world.
There are conferences, meetings, and instrument trials on a couple of boats.
I love it. I had even bought tickets to visit it this year before it was canceled, as you can see from the screenshot below.
But the fact that I love it so much probably is the reason that made me spot all the mistakes that they did with this online version of the event via OiConnect.
Mistake 1 - Not LIVE Conferences
The first thing that jumped in front of my eyes was the webinars.
These webinars were supposed to take the place of the conferences of the in-person event. Unluckily it wasn’t at all like that.
Because those webinars were recorded!
You want people to feel like they are there in person and what you do as the first thing? Recorded Conferences?
Even from the marketing perspective, it doesn’t make any sense.
And the list can go on…
What could they have done better?
They could have used a webinar platform like WebinarJam.
Unlimited Webinar (even simultaneous). Max 6 presenters per webinar. 5000 Simultaneous attendees (for Each Webinar). Only 999$ a year, with a 14-day trial.
That is a really simple investment for a big event like Oceanology International that could have improved the User experience by a factor of 10.
This simple tool would have increased user retention and could have helped the exhibitor with the lead generation process since it let the visualization of clickable Calls to Action during the presentation.
Mistake 2 - Static Website
As you may imagine a live event is a constantly changing environment.
Imagine yourself being an exhibitor and seeing someone looking at your stand. You would stop by him and ask him something, right?
Well, that’s the natural way of things.
But not on OiConnect.
I hoped that I could visit each exhibitor stand “virtually” and ask questions in a dedicated live chat.
Or maybe as an exhibitor, I would have loved to see who was visiting my page in real-time so I could try to start a conversation.
Never been so wrong.
All I could do is see is a STATIC company page for each exhibitor where there were simply listed the products they offered and the people that could be contacted.
Like this one here.
Be aware, the contacting system is not a fast, WhatsApp-style message. More like a mail in your OiConnet inbox, which obviously is buggy.
Because it doesn’t notify you of any message unless you enter in the inbox itself.
You can see it here below.
You can believe it or not…but I saw that message only because I was writing this article.
If the event was structured in a more LIVE-ish way, for sure the exhibitors would have designed at least a person to be online during the “Live” hours, creating more traffic to the site itself and adding the possibility of generating a flywheel of social shares like this one below from all the people that had to be there.
Like during a real in-person event.
Maybe I live in an ideal world (probably!), but to make this thing work at the best of its potentialities it should have been treated like a real one.
What could they have done better?
As a starter, the integration of a live chat on the exhibitor page would have been awesome.
Then why not include the possibility for attendees to chat and share their contacts like in the real event? I am thinking of something like Group chats on various specific topics with the possibility to send private messages to any of the attendees.
Would this have been hard to develop? Not at all.
If you add to this that they had more than eight months to do this the sadness for the missed opportunities rises.
Mistake 3 - Proposal on the first appointment
Yeah, I know, the title doesn’t clarify it much. But I promise I will get there shortly.
What would you think if a person on your first date would ask you to marry him/her? Your “Weird-O” meter would start to buzz and you would be scared off, right?
What would happen if I would ask you to do a video call right now, without talking of any of your needs before, through a platform you don’t know how handles your data and video stream? The “Weird-O” meter is buzzing again? Totally normal.
That’s what I thought about the 1-2-1 meeting on OiConnect.
Being invited to a video meeting without a little understanding of my needs as a customer or maybe without me deciding which service I want more info about?
I have received two invites like this, one before the start of the event itself and another one during the four days.
I rejected them both.
But I do not blame it on the exhibitor because those were the instruments that were given to them. And they were trying their best to do some lead generation with what they had.
We are living through troubled times right now due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Going on a video call means opening a window on your private life (your home, maybe your kids in the background screaming, and so on) to your work world. And not everyone is ready for that.
These are all small things that should be planned when developing a platform like OiConnect, even if doing it in a rush.
What could they have done better?
Simply applying the advice in the previous point would have sufficed to solve this problem too.
If they stopped a second in the building process to think about the user experience they would have caught two birds with one stone.
My biggest fear is that this online event has been planned only with the reduction of loss in mind.
As you may know, a lot of companies lock their spot early in the year. If you add that the event was canceled around two weeks before taking place, this means that a lot of companies had already paid their “exhibition price”.
Therefore, Oceanology International found itself with a lot of unhappy customers and was crushed between those who asked for a solution and those who asked for a refund.
Just think that EIVA and R2SONIC decided not to take part in the virtual version of the event.
To me, OiConnect is only a faded imitation of what the real event is. Both for the exhibitors and the attendees.
My only hope is that they learned from this.
While crossing my finger so tight in the hope of never needing this kind of solution again and having the liberty to visit all the places we want in the next years, I hope the organization behind Oceanology International fully understood what they were lacking and what they could Improve in the eventuality this kind of solution will be needed again.
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See you in the next post Fellow Smartest Surveyor.