Martin Waymire knows a successful event, whether in-person or virtual, is dependent on the skills of the team coordinating it. This rings true as two MW team members, Andie Poole and Charlotte Taylor, took a trip to sunny San Diego, California to assist on-site at the International Safe Transit Association’s recent ISTA Forum.

ISTA’s signature event, the ISTA Forum, is one of the packaging industry’s most well-attended events dedicated to shaping the future of transport packaging. Over the course of three days and more than 35 sessions, 300 attendees came together to share industry knowledge and network.

But, the work didn’t start when the event began. Thorough research and comprehensive planning for the 2022 ISTA Forum began months before the live event, during a time where COVID-19 restrictions were ever-changing. As the world adjusted to a new normal for in-person events, it was more essential than ever that we were prepared, flexible, and an extension of the ISTA team during the event.

Be prepared

Planning for the ISTA Forum started by following Martin Waymire’s RACE Process – Research, Action Plan, Communicate and Evaluation. We started by identifying ISTA’s goals and developing a deep understanding of the event.

As the team leading ISTA’s social media content strategy, we asked a lot of questions. Do they want to use social media to drive awareness and registrations leading up to the event? How can we help ISTA keep attendees engaged on social media throughout the week? We then used the insights gained to keep ISTA members regularly engaged on the social media channels.

Here are some best practices we found useful:

  • Create content about key deadlines and updates such as early-bird registration, the room block deadline, and the agenda.
  • Share graphics, videos, and GIFs to catch the attention of interested attendees.
  • Share and tag speakers as new sessions are announced.
  • Create a conference hashtag to use for promotion leading up to and during the event.
  • Communicate COVID-19 guidelines attendees should expect to adhere to at the event.
  • Consider using social media advertising to promote registrations. This can get the content in front of more people in the target audience!

Flexibility was key

We knew that while on-site at the conference, we would be counted on as an extension of their team to handle any needs that arise. That included setting up the venue as well as posting a last-minute update. This willingness to roll up our sleeves and help made our team stand out, but it also allowed ISTA to focus on ensuring their members had a great experience.

We had a blast supporting ISTA at their first in-person conference in two years, and loved working with the amazing ISTA team to make the 2022 Forum a huge success!