Growing your conference

Case Study

Read how Firebird helped PLEA see a 40% increase in submissions and revenue for their 2017 conference.

PLEA 2017

Passive Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) is a global network that has led a worldwide discourse on sustainable architecture and urban design through its conferences since 1982.

It has a membership of thousands of professionals, academics, students and industry members from over 40 countries.
Professor Susan Roaf

Susan Roaf

Sue is a British architect, scholar and Professor of Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh since 2005

Sue is the programme chair for the PLEA 2017 conference. This project is one of the most ambitious conferences, in terms of workflow and features that we have undertaken.

Sue came to us knowing that we could deliver on her challenging requirements. We were able to add real value to each stage of the process.

Abstract Submission

Submitters were able to take advantage of our powerful submission forms that include features such as:
  • Entering plain text directly into the form.
  • Copy and paste text and images from other documents such as Microsoft Word.
  • Dragging and dropping files that are then automatically converted into a publishable format.

The new author and affiliation feature, combined with biographies of all presenters, made sure the data being collected formed the basis of high quality publishable content at later stages.


Abstract Review

Reviewing for PLEA was greatly enhanced through the use of our Moderating feature. Administrators were able to choose a number of Forum Leaders with special access to the software.

Forum Leaders were then able to:
  • Nominate reviewers for their forum.
  • Assign papers to be reviewed by their reviewers.
  • Moderate the reviews in their forum.

Paper Submission

Successful abstract submitters were given an opportunity to upload a blind paper for assessment, as well as fine tuning the information in their submission.

Additional questions granting consent were included at this stage for those submitters who were successful.

Forum leaders were provided with a mechanism to check that each paper was indeed anonymous. They were also able to provide confirmation that instructions had been followed for each submission in their Forum.

Forum Leader Sign Off

Forum leaders were asked to perform final checks on the scores and comments to be released to the submitters.

Accuracy of the scores and the constructive nature of the comments could be amended as appropriate.

To aid the administrator, each submission could be signed off either individually or in bulk by the Forum Leader.

Full Paper

Once reviewer's (and Forum Leader's) comments had been released to submitters, submitters were invited to log back in and upload a final paper.

This was also the submitter's final chance to check all information was accurate and to make any last minute changes to the details to be published.


A delegate registration system was setup and configured to meet PLEA's many complex requirements.

We worked with Sue's team to determine the rules and dependencies around ticket purchases. We then applied these rules to the registration system to make sure that delegates could only buy valid ticket combinations whilst being presented with a fluid and easy path to place their order.

Customers were able to purchase tickets on behalf of another attendee. They could optionally associate a submission with each order. This made it easier for Sue's team to check that at least one person had registered for each submission.

Group bookings, multiple tickets, dietary requirements, badge labels, early/normal/late prices, dependency requirements and non-attendee items all helped to make a full and rich experience for each user.


All in all, we gave PLEA an opportunity to engage with their users in a way which they have not been able to do previously.

How do we know this - let's look at the statistics:
  • Submissions up by 40% on the previous event.
  • Revenue more than 45% over expectation - a massive win for the PLEA event.
  • Nearly 10,000 messages were sent out by Firebird to people associated with PLEA - no coincidence that good communication led to a highly successful event!

If you have any questions about this case study or some of the challenges we face and solved as part of this conference, then please Contact Us.

User Friendly
"The system is user friendly for organisers; participants with abstracts; people who want to register and it has a great back end for administrators."
Susan Roaf, PLEA2017
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