How Did The First Virtual Aesthetic Summit Go?

Closing last Monday November 11th, the inaugural Global Virtual Aesthetic Summit (GVAS) has been marked as a ground-breaking success. Held over a continuous 48 hours, over 1,432 Aesthetic professionals ‘attended’ the virtual summit from countries including America, UK, Australia, India and as far afield as Grand Cayman, Russia and the Philippines.

Once logged in, guests were taken through the virtual doors into the lobby, where they could select from a number of locations – including exhibitor stands, dedicated chat room, and the auditorium where presentations were displayed. The exhibition space didn’t lose any of the interactivity possible for a physical conference either – delegates could click on a brand’s stands to view product brochures, videos, websites, even place an order or live chat to a sales rep, and could save documents in a virtual briefcase for later access. Australasian exhibitors included KGA Body, BTL Aesthetics, AST, Dermapen Australia, High Tech Medical, Candela, Merz, Mondeal, O Cosmedics and Stratpharma.

Over in the auditorium, a packed-out programme included videos across various categories for attendees to select from, including injectable techniques, global aesthetic trends, business advice and more. Most were played ‘live’ in sequence, but several were accessible throughout the entire two days.

With such a high volume of content (available in three languages and multiple time zones) world-renowned speakers and complex software setup, GVAS is an undeniably impressive feat. We spoke to Convenor Stephen Handisides after the event closed to see what he and his team thought of the summit’s debut.

How are you feeling after seeing your 10-year dream come to fruition?
It has been very overwhelming for my team and me. We really can’t believe how we managed to put on a conference of this size for the very first time in a completely new format. Although nothing is perfect the first time the feedback from industry has just been truly amazing. Clinics that had their entire teams involved in GVAS gained the most benefits giving them a cost effective and fun way to educate their staff.

Any setbacks during the conference?
Medical professionals, speakers and brands all understood the major benefits of being part of a virtual event but as with any first-time event were sceptical and uncertain of how it would work. However once attendees were able to login they loved it and as a result we had a lot of professionals signing up to GVAS during the event. It helped with attendees posting on social media fun pictures of where they were watching GVAS around the world. We had pictures of planes, trains, hotels, beaches, using their computers and mobile devices to login during the two days. Even though we went through extensive testing of the platform there were a number of people that struggled to get access initially on one of their devices. However our IT support were able to give attendees solutions to access GVAS quickly and once they were logged in enjoyed all of the content and features.

What was attendee feedback like?
The feedback about the content and platform has been great. Many professionals are saying it’s one of the strongest conference programs they have seen. Because of this we have allowed professionals to access the content until the 12th December by registering on Having the conference program in four different languages was a big achievement for our team in China and Latin America and since GVAS, we are in exciting discussions with major players in these regions.

And exhibitor feedback?
The feedback we have had from exhibitors has been good. As it was quite a new experience for sales reps and attendees, and we feel the engagement between attendees and brands will only get stronger. There were sales conversations going on in the private chat rooms and 7,384 Unique Exhibition Booth Visits, which is incredible. On average each exhibitor received between 50-150 leads based on their location and design of their booth in the exhibition hall.  We have exhibitors already designing their 2020 virtual booth!

What was the biggest highlight for you?  
Watching people move around the platform – engaging in chat rooms and getting points by engaging with the exhibitors and watching the leader board change constantly. I was also impressed by how the best speakers in the world found the platform ‘addictive’ and almost spent the entire two days in chat rooms.

You’ve already confirmed another conference for next year – any clues for us?
Our aim was always to showcase how a virtual event could run in the largest possible scale so other organisations could license the platform to run their own. We will be running our second GVAS summit with advanced developments on how attendees can interact with vendors and chats. We know there was a lot of interest from those that are starting in aesthetics and need training around the fundamentals so you may see us doing a smaller show early on in 2020 geared towards this. You will also see a number of vendors and other conference providers using our platform to run their own virtual events.

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