Read more about the University event app. Photography of Clothworkers Court

MEETinLEEDS has worked in collaboration with the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies to host a virtual version of the 4th Arabic Linguistics Forum (ALiF 2020), 30th June – 2nd July on the new University of Leeds Event App.

ALiF 2020 was initially to be held on campus however due to the outbreak of Covid-19, MEETinLEEDS’ assistance was sought to manage and produce an online version of the event. The virtual forum was comprised of 5 keynote lectures, 60 presentations and 10 Q&A sessions. The format is a mixture of pre-recorded videos made available on youtube and live sessions hosted on Blackboard Collaborate. The Q&A sessions offer an opportunity for live interaction and discussion on the pre-recorded content.

To provide a central “meeting place” in which attendees can browse and select their own programme, view presentations, access virtual meeting rooms, message fellow attendees, view speaker information and network, the Aventri platform was used. The platform is an app, available for apple and android products. It is also possible to access the app as a website.

Arabic Linguistics Forum (ALiF 2020) logo

The conference was expected to attract 60 – 70 attendees, however over 160 people have participated in the event, with nearly 50% of attendees joining internationally.

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at MEETinLEEDS, commented:

“It has been great to work alongside the organising team for ALiF2020.  The agility the team showed in pivoting last minute to a virtual space was fantastic. Whilst a fully virtual conference is the safest and most accessible option at this moment in time, we very much look forward to offering a blended conference experience in the coming months – combining all that is great about a physical conference with the undoubtable benefits of a virtual offer.”

Feedback from the event has been excellent, with the committee praising both the organisation of the event and the technology used to support its delivery.

MEETinLEEDS' virtual exhibition stand at MEETGB virtual even

Last week we exhibited at MeetGB Virtual – a virtual exhibition in place of a live event we were due to attend this year in Wales.

Given the current circumstances the live event could not go ahead, so MeetGB Virtual was an excellent opportunity to showcase The University of Leeds conference and meeting facilities and services to planners for their future events. We were able to connect with companies, associations and event organisers from across the UK, Europe and North America – all without leaving the house!

Over 60 UK destinations, venues and suppliers exhibited including our friends at our local conference bureau, ConferenceLeeds, who were flying the flag for our amazing city and speaking about how hosting a conference in Leeds means you will experience the exceptional.

The platform took on a similar format to a live exhibition – a theatre space for the welcome presentation, a networking lounge and an exhibition floor full of stands to browse. We thought it was a really engaging experience for attendees and a great platform to forge valuable business relationships whilst we are unable to meet in person. Attendees seemed impressed too, and in particular loved the videos on the different stands describing them as the next best thing to visiting the cities and venues around the UK in person.

MEETinLEEDS' virtual exhibition stand at MEETGB virtual even

A reflection for me, post event, is that when you meet in person the conversation can feel more natural – being able to read facial expressions and body language is second nature and this can be difficult in a virtual environment. There was, however, the benefit that you could chat with anyone at any time rather than only when people are walking by your booth, as would be the case at a face-to-face exhibition. I also found it really useful to be able to share specific information instantly and easily, particularly when speaking with associations and societies where there was a connection with our research and expertise at the University of Leeds. I was able to share key information and web links as part of the conversation.

It is fantastic that Visit Britain pulled this online event together so quickly, supporting the conference and events industry on our road to recovery. It was great to make new connections virtually and we look forward to meeting you face to face in the future when it is safe to do so. There is nothing quite like meeting in person to showcase our amazing destinations, venues, experiences and hospitality we have on offer in the UK.

The Great Hall at the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds has moved up two places in the latest QS world university global rankings, consolidating its place in the top 100.

Here at MEETinLEEDS we are very proud of the part we play in encouraging global engagement through international conference activity and in 2019 were proud to have welcomed, among many other conferences, the 16thEuropean Symposium on Comminution and Classification, 45th Annual Conference of the European International Business Academy, 16th International Conference on the Economics of Grids, Clouds, Systems and Services and the 11th Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies.

Notably, Leeds also hosted the MIT Regional Enterpreurship Acceleration Proragmme (MIT REP) in January, with visitors across the world seeing how first-hand how the university and the region inspires innovation.

Read more about the University’s success.