LSR Q+A: ICE North America Director On Bringing The New Orleans Experience Online

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ICE North America

Many industry professionals were set to be heading to New Orleans next week to attend ICE North America.

That won’t be happening of course, but the show will go on – digitally.

ICE North America will take place online from May 11-15, with more than 1,500 participants set to attend.

Here’s the five-day overview:

Ahead of the conference, LSR caught up with ICE NA event director Rory Credland to discuss the challenges of going fully digital.

LSR: How difficult has it been to re-purpose a physical event into a virtual conference?

Credland: It’s been challenging. We are so used to doing physical events, so we had to tear it up and go back to the drawing board.

We are fortunate to have a digital brand in IGB, so we pulled on their resources and expertise to help us prepare. It was a real collective effort and we hashed it out.

LSR: Did you have to change much about the agenda to make it work virtually?

Credland: Where we can, we tried to replicate the physical event that was meant to be taking place in New Orleans. There’s obviously no physical networking happening, which is tricky, so that was a key thing we talked to tech providers about.

But overall we tried to stay true to the event USP, which is a tight focus on the North American market. 

LSR: Are there any positives from being all-digital?

Credland: By hosting it digitally, you have the advantage of attracting some new customers that wouldn’t have made it over to New Orleans. Its much easier to dip into a digital event.

You can also be much more flexible about topics. In the current coronavirus environment, things are changing by the second, and we can change our content to reflect that.

LSR: A lot of people get more benefit from the conversations on the edges of conferences. How can you replicate that online?

Credland: As I mentioned, one key element we wanted to keep was that connectivity of a live environment. Throughout the five days, there will be opportunities to talk to everyone.

There will be lots of networking going on through our peer-to-peer technology. You can request meetings online but also in Q&A sessions. We won’t quite be able to be replicate the New Orleans experience, but we’ll do our best.

LSR: And you decided to spread the event out over five days rather than the original three?

Credland: We understand the time constraints people are dealing with at the minute and we thought it was unrealistic for people to spend full days at this event. So we thought it was more manageable to do three hours per day.

LSR: If this is a success, do you think you’ll host more virtual conferences in the future?

Credland: I’m a firm believer people need to be physically interacting. That’s an important tool, regardless of what’s happening.

While we might not see people come back to physical events straight away, we’ll get back to that at some point. This is a complementary product to our normal events, not a replacement.