AREC is an empowerment event for Australia’s real estate industry, held on the Gold Coast in May/June every year – apart from 2020 – for more than two decades. The event draws thousands of attendees from right across the competitive real estate landscape and pulls some seriously big names as speakers, including the likes of adventurer Aron Ralston (on which the film 127 Hours is based) and Australian icon Elle McPherson.
In 2021, AV1 and Sprintr helped organisers deliver the event in hybrid form for the first time in its history.
The addition of a virtual ticket paid dividends for the 2021 event, with Victoria going into lockdown just three days before the event kicked off. With the conference sold out to its 3,000 pax max, suddenly there was a 748 live-delegate void with stakeholders from one of Australia’s largest real estate markets locked out of the event destination by a government border closure.
But, with the event already prepped to be delivered via the highly customisable digital ExpoPlatform alongside the live experience, AREC organisers were able to offer virtual attendance to all Victorian delegates, which the majority took up. The tickets freed up by Victorian attendees were released as last minute tickets to a waitlist of Queenslanders and the numbers attending – both in person and virtually – topped out at 3,200, with 2,700 live delegates and 500 online.
With the event never having had a virtual offering before, General Manager of Events at Total Real Estate Training (TRET) – organisers of the event – Nichola Byrne said AV1 took the time to guide the event team through the process.
“It totally was out of my wheelhouse and all of the team were so great in talking us through step by step…just the support and trying to understand what we need and giving us the options as well – the different sort of platforms that we could use, and all of that.”
And when there was suddenly an opportunity to convert hundreds of attendees to virtual delegates at the last minute, our Sprintr team, who were overseeing the virtual platform as well as providing onsite registration kiosks, were immediate ready to lend a hand wherever they were needed.
“We couldn’t have done it without their help,” says Nichola.
How the world has changed
AV1 Producer Richard Browning – described as “wonderful” and “amazing” by Nichola – says one of the most striking things about the AREC conference in 2021 is how it highlighted the massive technical transformation that’s taken place for the events industry and its stakeholders since 2019. For the last pre-pandemic event, there was just one virtual speaker for the event, Shark Tank judge Barbara Corcoran, beamed in from the USA.
“When we did that in 2019, that was a full blown custom server, crew in her office, rehearsals and lots of production liaisons,” says Richard.
“Then contrast that with  and in three different spaces we had multiple people just dialling in on Zoom from their own laptop with barely a rehearsal. It’s just the way the world’s changed.
“In 2019 nobody was geared up for doing this stuff from their office reliably and [in] 2021… we do this every day of the week.”
At TRET, Nichola and her team are embracing the power of the hybrid model as they work on the 2022 event, actively marketing virtual tickets to potential delegates in Western Australia and New Zealand, in case they are still unable to travel for the conference.
“It just gives us access to a broader delegate [pool]. It just gives us that extra reach,” she says.
They’re also using the huge treasure trove of event footage to help populate their new on- demand subscription content platform AREC+.
A special anniversary in 2022
The event coming up in 2022 is already well on the way to success, with all sponsorship and most of the exhibition already sold. This year will also mark a special anniversary for AV1 and TRET – a decade working on the event together.
After 10 years on the job, with our AV1ders knowing the event inside out, Nichola says it makes the whole experience “a lot smoother and seamless”.
“Key stakeholders like John [McGrath, founder of the McGrath/TRET empire], and Tom Panos (Event MC and Industry Expert) love when they get onsite and see Richard or another one of the team as they know we’re in good hands and that we’re being looked after” she says.
High praise indeed. We aim to please.
Key stakeholders like John [McGrath, founder of the McGrath/TRET empire], and Tom Panos (Event MC and Industry Expert) love when they get onsite and see Richard or another one of the team as they know we’re in good hands and that we’re being looked after.