As the global pandemic wreaked havoc on the events industry in 2020, many local organizations struggled to engage members, provide interactive education and networking opportunities, and maintain financial wellness. This was the case for two clients of The Core Management Company (TCMC): the Sacramento Area Human Resource Association (SAHRA) and San Diego Society for Human Resource Management (SDSHRM), as Covid-19 restrictions threatened each association’s livelihood.
A significant part of that livelihood is the in-person conference. Each year, SAHRA and SDSHRM, both chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), hold conferences in-person in the fall. As March turned to April and the California skies warmed, the writing was on the wall. In-person conferences were a no-go for 2020.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. With the traditional conference out of the question, the TCMC team needed to act swiftly to create a virtual experience that would provide members with a reason to remain engaged, resume their professional development, and make connections in a virtual world. The TCMC events staff harnessed their decades of experience planning and executing conferences to form a first of its kind partnership to create the MegaHR Conference – a virtual experience spanning the month of September 2020.
The TCMC team identified a software platform that would elevate the online experience, allowing for streamed content, live sessions, and interactive networking features. The hybrid model of both live and on-demand sessions provided an innovative structure conducive to learning that had not been seen in most virtual conferences at that point. Instructors were identified to provide educational content of relevance to the unprecedented times faced in 2020. Extra emphasis was placed on identifying speakers with a reduced fee or no cost to ensure the event was profitable and to help offset revenue shortfalls faced as a result of the pandemic.
With the MegaHR Conference providing a fully virtual experience, the TCMC team worked to expand its reach for greater results. Utilizing connections across the California human resource association community, the TCMC team signed seven additional SHRM chapters on as event partners. This provided a revenue share opportunity for partner chapters, while increasing total event attendance and heightening levels of collaboration and financial success.
SAHRA and SDSHRM had attendance and revenue goals for the event, as well as a minimum amount of recertification credits they aimed to offer. The attendance goal for the event was 400, which was exceeded by 9% with a total of 436 participants. In terms or recertification credits offered, the goal was 20. This goal was surpassed, with 24 credits offered.
SAHRA and SDSHRM rely on their in-person conferences to generate positive net revenue to help offset other expenses required to keep their operations running, and to continue to serve members. With the loss of revenue from in-person events in 2020, both chapters had financial goals for the MegaHR Conference. SAHRA and SDSHRM both exceeded their net revenue goals by nearly 21%. The financial success of the MegaHR Conference provided both chapters relief during what was a financially crippling time for many organizations.
The MegaHR Conference proved to be quite effective and a success by all criteria for which the TCMC team was measuring. The attendance, credits offered, and financial results made the event a success beyond expectations. Of course it wouldn’t be effective without positive feedback from attendees. On a scale from one to five, over 80% of survey respondents ranked the education sessions and virtual platform as a five or four.
The Covid-19 pandemic presented a problem more significant than any other issue faced in modern times for both clients. Rather than succumb to the challenge, TCMC brought the two associations together, formed partnerships, and invented a program that had never been done before in the California human resource community. This originality and inventiveness resulted in great success for both clients, the members who attended the event, and the California HR community as a whole.
This type of virtual experience was not something either organization had undertaken or experienced. The TCMC team, in partnership with volunteer leadership, started from scratch to provide an engaging, informative, and inspiring program. There was no model replicated – just an ambitious group of association professionals setting out to create something unlike any other online learning opportunities available to California HR professionals.