A new platform, product reveals, and CET points: 100% Optical goes virtual
100% Optical will deliver a virtual event between 23–24 May, offering education and interactive CET, as well as networking and meeting opportunities. OT found out more…
This May is set to bring 100% Optical to screens as a virtual event, bringing together exhibitors and delegates for networking, product showcases and education.
Pre-registration opened in March for delegates to express their interest in attending the virtual show, receiving an “encouraging” reception, Nathan Garnett, event director of 100% Optical told OT, with over 1000 people who have registered their interest to attend at the time of writing.
“We’ve been really pleased with the interest in the virtual event, whether AOP members, or industry brands and service providers. It has been really well received,” Mr Garnett said, adding that the launch of the platform is planned for April.
“100% Optical feels like a big community event,” Mr Garnett said. “A lot of people know each other, while also making new acquaintances. It’s a nice feeling of an industry that is working together,” he said, adding: “That is what we want to achieve and create through the online platform.”
The AOP will be delivering a series of online CET sessions during the virtual event on Sunday 23 May, to ensure practitioners can gain interactive points.
Dr Ian Beasley, AOP head of education and OT clinical editor, said: “The AOP-led programme at 100% Optical provides an opportunity to update practitioners on key clinical topics while also offering interactive CET points across a range of core competencies.”
The first session will be delivered by the AOP’s clinical negligence legal team – on how to spot the red flag signs and symptoms of intracranial tumours. This will be followed by the importance of OCT imaging for the detection of peripheral retinal disease, while the third session will provide an update on myopia management uptake by practitioners, considering the barriers that have been overcome and the remaining challenges.
Another key session will consider the role of the tear film in relation to the ocular surface and contact lens wear.
The event organisers recommend that delegates sign up early for CET sessions. While the online event will have more spaces available than a live session at the show, Mr Garnett explained: “We will have limited places for sessions. So, a bit like the show, some sessions may fill up quickly.”
Dr Beasley added: “In addition to the education delivery at 100% Optical in May, an extensive range of interactive CET will be available online throughout the year, offering webinars and peer discussions with key target groups in mind, including locums, independent practitioners and therapeutic prescribers.”
Brand showcaseAs well as sharing their new products and ranges, suppliers will also be delivering content and available for meetings.
“This is an opportunity for suppliers, having not had a show or an event in over a year, to be able to do the next best thing,” Mr Garnett said. “Through the platform, exhibitors can share new products and brands, either through videos or face-to-face virtual meetings, or they can hold an education session.”
The event is also planning virtual eyewear showcases to display a selection of frames from exhibitors. Giving OT an insight, Mr Garnett suggested the showcase could include fashion shoots using some iconic backdrops around London.
“It will be good for everybody to have a chance to see what is new on the market,” he explained.
The event will see a greater focus on luxury eyewear, with key brands in this sector set to join the show for the first time. The luxury market is a large category, Mr Garnett observed, “one that is only getting bigger.”
Making a connectionThe event will be hosted on the digital platform, Swap Card, which features a networking matchmaker powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Once a delegate has entered the platform, a series of questions will help to determine the kind of products and topics they might be interested in. Using AI, the platform will suggest which products a delegate might want to look at, the contacts they may wish to connect with, or seminars and CET sessions that they might want to join.
“It’s very easily marked out on the homepage,” Mr Garnett said of the platform. “You can set up an agenda, choose your CET sessions, and book appointments with exhibitors – much as you would at the show itself.”
Through the platform, seminar attendees will be able to take part in live discussions, or connect and chat directly. Networking rooms will also be set up, such as after a CET session if attendees want to continue the conversation.
Commenting on what the event team are most excited about for the virtual event, Mr Garnett explained: “I think it is the two-way nature of the event. Being able to have meetings and conversations in one place, without having to set up a separate Zoom call.”
The event will be hosting content around business topics, such as how to sell luxury, and store designs, as well as wider conversations around the shape of the industry going forwards.
While it may not be a substitute for meeting in-person, Mr Garnett said: “It’s great to think we can deliver an event that will have real value to delegates and exhibitors.”
Hybrid potentialAs well as creating an opportunity for the profession to join together virtually after a year of disruption, the virtual event could also kick-start a new approach for the event.
Mr Garnett explained: “I think it will be the start of something because, once launched, this platform will stay available.”
This will mean that if a delegate sees a frame or product that they want to revisit several weeks later, they will be able to log in and arrange a meeting with the brand through the platform. Similarly, delegates can return to view information or videos about products, or some session topics.
The platform will host 100% Optical’s newsfeed and Tech Bites virtual series, and could also be used for roundtable events and networking rooms.
“It will be there all the time and so we should create a community through this platform,” Mr Garnett said, adding “It’s like a LinkedIn Group just for optometrists and opticians, but with all the benefits of Zoom and a product directory.”
Describing the potential longer-term benefits of the platform, he suggested this could work in tandem with the event in the future.
“From what has been a dire situation for event organisers, I think this is one of the good things that has come out of it,” Mr Garnett said. “It gives us more of a 360-degrees approach to the event, allowing the conversations to start earlier and carry throughout the year.”