Six learnings from the CIPD’s first-ever digital Festival of Work

By Sinead Costello, Head of Partnerships at the CIPD.

  1. Customers want an experience: Our customers appreciated feeling part of a community and wanted some escapism from everyday working life. Creating the feeling of being at an event through graphics and chat rooms was therefore critical.
  2. Content is key:  Although the show went really well, we did experience some technical issues; luckily our customers forgave us these wobbles, as the content and speakers were of such a high quality that they were worth the wait.
  3. Plan for the worst, hope for the best: If you experience any technical challenges, clear communication with your audience is key. Plan out how you’ll manage any problems and make sure you have a strong Communications team to support you.
  4. Let your customers in: As we only had six weeks to set up the show, our data integration and access model was clunky, involving a manual data upload a few days before the event. This meant that customers who didn’t register the week before the event couldn’t access the content. If we had more time to plan the event we would’ve definitely invested time and effort in a smoother data integration process; it was disheartening to have to disappoint customers who hadn’t registered in time. However, following high customer demand, we were able to run a second data upload a week later to provide access to the on-demand content.
  5. People still want to shake hands: Exhibitors and customers like to make face-to-face contact, which is difficult to create digitally. We’re exploring options to enhance this element for future digital events.
  6. Work with the best: Don’t try and create all of this by yourself; work with experts in each area. I have to say a massive thank you to our fantastic speakers, content designers, event production team, client management, platform suppliers and comms professionals – and those behind the scenes in marketing, customers services and databases for delivering the best product for our customers. The CIPD, Haymarket and vFairs teams worked brilliantly to bring skills, insights and technology together to deliver a great experience for our customers.

Previous piece: How we managed our first-ever digital Festival of Work

Join the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition, on 11-12 November 2020, for an exciting online format. Blending inspiring and thought-provoking speakers with digital networking and a range of industry-leading suppliers.

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