What draws participants in to new events each year-- and what brings them back? From keynotes to panel discussions, an organiser’s focus is on building an impressive, content-rich experience that aims to delight and inspire. But beyond the content that the attendees absorb, the value of an event lies in active participant engagement in collaborative learning opportunities with their fellow delegates, and the lasting connections that follow.
Here’s where the challenge comes in. Organisers can control the content of an event, but generating an authentic environment to nurture intentional learning and meaningful exchange between all participants can feel impossible. After all, networking breaks, Twitter conversations and cocktail hours can only go so far. This year, Braindate joined the ICCA Congress to deepen and expand opportunities for participant engagement in self-directed, collaborative, and experiential learning.
Braindate at the ICCA Congress
Braindate is a web-based knowledge sharing platform created by Montreal-based company (and B Corp) e180 that enables users to post topics on a knowledge marketplace, search for topics that they’re hoping to learn more about, and book one-on-one or group conversations of 30 minutes -- braindates -- with each other.
These “topics” represent user knowledge and experiences inspired by the event theme, and participants can search through and filter the knowledge marketplace to seek out experts on topics that they have an interest in. It’s like activating the sea of inspired knowledge that rises within attendees throughout an event, and providing a dynamic context within which to identify, share, and build on these waves in collaboration with one another.
At the ICCA Congress, 150 participants connected with one another on Braindate, and 82 different topics sprung up around themes like destination marketing, sustainability, prototyping ambassador programs, deploying innovative branding strategies, and many more.
Delegate Chara Gkirtzi reflected that she began to learn more about a business opportunity she was facing by meeting with an expert who was excited to share their knowledge with her. “I had a braindate about a subject I knew absolutely nothing about before. It was great to learn from the perspective of a different country that knows how to do something in a different way than I’m used to.”
Some users may have been initially unsure of what knowledge that they had to share, but once they began to create topics, then send and receive invitations, conversations bloomed.
Popular topics included, “Finance your congress with creative sponsorship programs,” and “Enhancement and added value for in-house lead generation,” among many others. For event organizers, it was exciting (and helpful!) to watch participant interest data unfold live as certain topics and tags began to trend in the braindate marketplace.
Where we’re headed
When agendas are packed at an event like the ICCA Congress, it can become a challenge to find enough time to share braindates with one another. “I wish there was more time in the program for braindating,” delegate Christoph Raudonat mentioned. “It was the most effective way to get together with a group of people--you really get the best out of everyone in this format.”
In future iterations, organisers can benefit from positioning Braindate to delegates as the best way to follow up and dive deeper with experts on subjects of interest that emerge during talks and panels.
The magnitude and accessibility of learning opportunities in which attendees can partake -- where they feel engaged in both learning and sharing their own expertise -- is what left a powerful impression on event attendees at the ICCA Congress. “Magic happens when people connect,” explained one delegate, “and Braindate allows the power of life experience and expertise to be exchanged in a very dynamic, authentic and sincere way.”
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