There is no other way to describe this first edition of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) virtual meeting, which took place on October 7 and 8.
Caroline Lacasse, Director of the CCIF, took on the daunting challenge of organizing this virtual meeting and transforming it into a user-friendly, information-rich experience.
“We counted 332 participants over the two days who attended nine conferences and workshops in addition to discussing with speakers and colleagues on our various forums, explains the organizer. For a first experience, I am very satisfied, knowing that nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting.”
Very few technical problems were reported over the two days. The lectures were pre-recorded, allowing the presenters to answer questions raised during the broadcast immediately.
A real experience
The virtual event attracted participants from across Canada. But a handful of Americans and Europeans also joined the meeting.
All were able to discover this dynamic formula where participants could discuss via private video-conferencing, attend lectures in both languages in the auditoriums and even learn more about new products and services related to the body shop industry by visiting one of the 29 virtual booths. They could view videos, retrieve reference documents in a virtual briefcase and even get answers to their questions directly from the specialists.
“On the first day, explains Lacasse, close to 3,000 text message exchanges were recorded, ranging from technical questions to friendly discussions between acquaintances. The ability to ask questions and get answers directly during the presentations added value, says the organizer. And many of the discussions continued afterwards, in the lounge or privately. All of these discussions added a lot to the content of the conferences.”
All conferences and workshops will remain available to registrants for the next three months. This will be an opportunity to catch up on conferences that the participant’s schedule did not allow for live viewing.
The formula will be reused
A survey will be sent to participants, sponsors and speakers to measure their satisfaction with the event. The goal is to refine a formula that will be used again for the Toronto event, which will also be held on a virtual basis, on February 3 and 4.
“I think we were able to attract new participants who would otherwise not have been able to join us for financial or geographic reasons,” says Lacasse. “It was a first experience that we will enhance. One thing is for sure, we couldn’t wait to organize this type of event until we could see each other in person.
“Technology and best practices in our field continue to evolve and we need to take advantage of the tools that allow us to share knowledge and build relationships.”