Event Apps for Conferences – Experiences of Melanie van Waveren from the Orthoptics Professional Association in Germany

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Normally, Melanie van Waveren’s main focus is on the treatment of vision problems, but today she talks to us about digital tools. As managing director of the Orthoptics Professional Association in Germany, she is also the organizer of the BOD Conference. And it was at this event that an event app was used for the first time in 2018.

In an interview, Melanie tells us what added value an event app brings to their conference, why she still uses paper programs and what has so far been a reason against the use of an event app. Have fun while reading. ?

LineUpr: Hello Melanie. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Please introduce yourself and the Orthoptics Professional Association e. V.

Melanie: Hello, the Orthoptics Professional Association in Germany is an association for the professional group of orthoptists. Our colleagues work in the field of ophthalmology and they diagnose and treat eye diseases such as strabismus, eye twitching, and visual field defects. The association has been active since 1971 and in addition to the professional political tasks, we take care of further education and training in the field of orthoptics.

I myself am an orthoptist and since 2015 also the managing director of the association.

LineUpr: You organize the BOD Conference every year. Please tell us something more about this event. Which target group do you address and which topics are discussed?

Melanie: So our BOD convention (or officially Federal Congress BOD) is our main annual scientific meeting, in which about 300 professionals further their education. The conference always starts on Friday with our general meeting and on Saturday the scientific part takes place. Either there are lectures in a large meeting room or in seminar form with overlapping times. The conference is adapted to our professional group of orthoptists and is usually designed around two main topics. This year, for example, it deals with visual perception disorders and childhood neurological disorders that affect vision development.

LineUpr: How do you promote the event among the target group?

Melanie: The event is advertised through all of the association’s communication channels, other advanced training events (including related occupational groups such as ophthalmologists), on our website, and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

LineUpr: In 2018 you first used a LineUpr event app for the conference. What was for you the absolute added value of an event app?

Melanie: In contrast to the previous postal shipping, we as organizers have more time and can quickly and easily enter even short-term changes. Besides, you can reach the participants very well through the app. Last year, for example, there was a short-term construction site at the destination station and we could directly inform all participants about the changed route.

The contact between participants and speakers is also more intense through the app.

Also, of course, the ecological aspect is noticed (significantly reduced paper consumption).

For the first time in 2016, I used a conference app at my training and was directly impressed by the functions.

LineUpr: Where did the decision to use an event app for the first time for the conference in 2018 come from? Wasn’t the target group already ready for this step before or did you just not consider an event app before?

Melanie: I would say both … both the participants and we as organizers were more conservative. Also, it is often the case that when everything goes well, one does not like to change the processes. For the first time in 2016, I used a conference app at my training and was directly impressed by the functions.

LineUpr: Do you also use printed products to market the event or to distribute information on-site? If so, which and why?

Melanie: Yes, we still have our “old fashioned” program. This is due to our participants, who still appreciate this form and a good third of the participants are still not equipped with smartphones.

We worked with a QR code and displayed it at every possible chance.

LineUpr: How did you promote the app among the participants?

Melanie: We worked with a QR code and displayed it at every possible chance (association magazine, newsletter). In addition, the association’s members showed the app whenever possible.

LineUpr: What information did you present in the app?

Melanie: Program with supporting program, sponsors, information on the speakers, abstracts on the lectures/seminars, hotel information, information about the location and public transport, and also by linking the participant registration

LineUpr: Thank you, Melanie, for the attentive interview. We were able to gain a good overview of the specific app uses. The stories of our customers who use an app for the first time are always particularly special for us.

More about the Orthoptic Professional Association in Germany can be found here.

We are already looking forward to the next events with you.