The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) is a professional association of more than 35,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. The organization’s annual event, ONS Congress, brings together clinical knowledge, research, direct patient care, and advocacy that results in innovation that can impact the future of patient care. Each year, members attend to earn nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) contact hours, network with their peers, and learn from industry partners. After a successful virtual event in 2020 and because its in-person Congress had to be cancelled again, ONS decided, to deliver two virtual events in 2021 to better enhance the attendee experience, provide access to critical education, and further engage exhibitors. The two events, ONS Congress and ONS Bridge would take place in April and September, respectively.
Member & Community Needs
ONS Congress attendees and exhibitors both serve a common purpose: cancer care. Oncology nurses play a crucial role in cancer care and are a trusted resource for patients and their caregivers. And exhibitors recognize the importance of educating nurses about care options and management, as well as the value of establishing their brand as a trusted partner in cancer care. The virtual event served as a valuable resource for oncology nurses to have access to over 90 exhibitors, learn the latest innovations from product theaters and symposia, and ultimately, obtain the most up-to-date information they needed to provide the best patient care.
Design & Build Out
Having executed a virtual event the year prior, ONS already had an existing partnership for its education sessions, but chose to partner with an additional vendor for the overall platform to achieve better flexibility and integration, and to enhance the ease of use for attendees. The two platforms integrated seamlessly and provided a great experience for the event staff, attendees, and exhibitors.
The new platform also offered virtual booth benefits that exhibitors had not previously had access to the year before. The updated features were a direct result of the feedback provided by exhibitors after the prior year’s event and included the option for exhibitors to upload or create their own virtual booth, a live chat function, lead reporting, category tagging for attendee search, unlimited downloadable resources, and a Zoom Showcase feature. The platform combination was cost-effective, easier for the staff team to support, which created time management efficiencies, and addressed the 2020 experience gaps that had been previously identified.
ONS Congress was a four-day event held over two weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each day started with industry symposia and was followed by education sessions throughout the day. Dedicated exhibit hall hours took place each afternoon for nearly two hours, with the exception of gold/platinum exhibitors that had an additional half-hour of dedicated time. This format ensured that attendees would have time devoted to viewing the exhibits without having to miss any of the education sessions. In conjunction with the exhibit hall hours were product theater sessions, which provided exhibitors access to attendees outside the confines of the standard exhibit hall and in a format that’s mutually beneficial to the attendees. These sessions provided informal education about specific products and services, backed by data, which ultimately help oncology nurses provide better patient care.
ONS Congress surpassed the organization’s registration goal. Exhibits, sponsorship, and industry events reached 156% to budget, which is nearly $1 million over its goal. Feedback from exhibitors revealed that the new virtual platform was easy to use and was now one of their preferred platforms. Overall industry event satisfaction and exhibit satisfaction scores increased. “Functionality of Platform” scores increased by 23% and “Exhibit Package” scores increased by 30%. Learning hall visits also increased by more than 20%.
Smithbucklin partners with the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) to manage sales and tradeshow fulfillment.