Lord Somers Camp and Power House

Supporting personal and community development through virtual event programs.

Exploring New Avenues in Times of Crisis

Lord Somers Camp & Power House (LSC&PH) runs several popular camps and programs for youth development, community development, life-long learning, and positive aging in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia. In the 12 months before the global pandemic began, they had 1,500 people, from the ages 15 to 80, attend their camps and programs.

LSC&PH was impacted by the start of the unprecedented global health crisis in March, which had forced organizations across the world to cancel or postpone their events. They found themselves in the position of needing to cancel all of their in-person events overnight as government restrictions prevented all in-person gatherings.

The not-for-profit organization decided it was time to reassess their events strategy but knew they had to do so while keeping their program goals intact. “Our vision is to create a stronger, more inclusive society through service to others — so we want to continue keeping our members and program participants engaged," says Vikki Deak, Programs and Activities Manager. "This vision is more important than ever right now, in a world where we are physically distanced and have more of a need to remain connected to one another." Vikki viewed the challenge with her community in mind. She adds, "Ultimately, we are all in this together, and in creating online events we see members engaged and continuing to explore creativity through program design.”

LSC&PH had been using Cvent as their one-stop centralized event management platform to handle their in-person events. Keeping in mind the functionalities that Cvent’s tech offered, the organization decided to move some of their existing events, such as camps, luncheons, and social gatherings, to the virtual space.

Event Tech to the Rescue

LSC&PH’s first order of business was to ensure their event cancellations -- and the subsequent communication with members -- were handled smoothly. Cvent's integrated registration platform created a seamless process for the team. “Once the reality set in, the practicality of closing events, notifying attendees, and offering refunds was a smooth and streamlined activity. We could easily check in to see that the messages were sent out, and track refunds and conversions to donations,” says Vikki. It also ensured a hassle-free experience for members.

Pivoting to virtual was a tall order, but one which proved to be a smooth process for the team. LSC&PH’s events program was already plugged into the Cvent system, so they simply needed to integrate their virtual conferencing solution into the Cvent platform. Cvent automated the rest of the process for the LSC&PH team. 

With the help of their member database and Cvent’s email marketing tool, LSC&PH began to connect and reengage with their community of members and volunteers, chiefly those who had attended programs in the past. Doing their activities digitally allowed them to reach more members — especially those who weren’t living close to their facilities and who therefore couldn't engage with their face-to-face programs. 

LSC&PH also used Cvent’s Inquisium survey module to get quick feedback and identify the elements that worked best for their online activities and programs. It easily enabled them to readjust each new event or session to optimally engage attendees. “The team at Cvent has been consistent with their support to allow us to regularly run ideas and new ways of coordinating our programs past them, to ensure we have the best approach for registration and management of participants,” insists Vikki.

Road to Re-Engagement

The shift to online events was a clear success, with LSC&PH seeing positive responses and increased levels of re-engagement from their members and volunteers. This was largely because people, who earlier couldn’t dedicate a whole weekend or week to participate or volunteer, now had alternate, more accessible options to choose from.

Having their programs online also helped LSC&PH strengthen their connection with their members. Members who did not live close to either Albert Park or Somers could now access their online programs and participate. One attendee even remarked that the online events were “just like being at camp, having fun with friends old and new” and requested LSC&PH to continue doing virtual sessions for all programs.

LSC&PH was pleasantly surprised to see elderly members of their program quickly and enthusiastically adapt to the virtual shift. Any fears about tech resistance were alleviated by the fact that members could also join events via phone. LSC&PH noted that they now connected much more frequently compared to when the meetups were in person.

Perhaps one of the best things to come out of this virtual shift is that LSC&PH are now geared up to explore more options to bring some of their creative and innovate ideas — such as online performances, virtual trainings, digital fundraisers — to life. “Taking on the challenge of an online world has further expanded the opportunities for our programs to go forward, we can now offer more programs and alter them further depending on the ongoing interest of those who attend them,” says Deak.

Improving Outreach using Event Tech

The success of their online events, combined with the ease with which they transitioned their programs digitally, has made LSC&PH realize the true potential of going virtual. They are now confident that some (if not all) of their virtual events will likely end up remaining in their future program, and are excited to continue using Cvent as a centralized platform for all their virtual and in-person events.

The next phase in LSC&PH’s plan is to launch internal training for their members. They plan to continue leveraging Cvent’s event registration and survey tools to get people to sign up for the trainings, test their knowledge awareness, and get relevant pre-reading and resources.

LSC&PH also wants to continue to give back to the community during this time by bringing more of their community development programs to the digital space. In fact, they already have a global fundraiser in the pipeline that they are launching with the help of Cvent.

“As we look into the future and society returning to ‘normal’, we hope that people continue to connect in these newfound ways,” concludes Vikki. “This period has truly been a blessing in disguise. Moving to an online world has completely shifted the way that we think about how we create moments for people to connect in a positive way and to break down barriers that prevent this. We have no uncertainty now — Cvent has helped open our ability to connect with people better than before, our calendar has grown and is moving forward, and our members are now reaping the benefits of being involved with Lord Somers Camp and Power House.”