By Dan, 0 Comments
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linked In

Well, no, not “Ghostbusters”, but we have noticed a new trend that has been very unexpected. We have had a lot of requests from new customers who are desperately looking for someone to take over the submission and review part of their conference or congress.

There have been a variety of reasons why, from the simple bad luck for their current supplier to the usual worst of mankind situations. It makes no difference to us, we are ready, willing, and able to help whenever we are called upon.

What does this actually mean for your conference?

It means we can swoop in like superheroes, pick up any existing data in any 3rd proprietary software, and import it into our system, ready to carry on with the process wherever it was stopped.

There are always challenges in life and the answer is to deal with them the best we can, not fight against them. We are ready to lend a hand no matter what the reason is, who the provider is or in what state the data is in – we will always do our best to get you back on the right path – that’s what we are good at!


If you have a problem, if no-one else can help, then maybe you should call Firebird*.

*(yes, I know I am mixing up my 80’s references, but most of you are too young to know I got it wrong!).

By Dan, 0 Comments
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linked In


Everyone seems to be doing whatever they can to help.

750,000 volunteers have signed up

to help the NHS in the UK

But we in the events industry can’t profess to be saving the world but I think there is something we can do.

I have been in a few industry meetings recently with other leaders and the same phrase has come up again and again – the empathy model.

This is something we at Firebird were keen to explore but didn’t know where to start.

As always, it is our customers who know exactly what to do!

Like many other suppliers, we have had several customers who have had to postpone their conferences, congresses meetings etc. and have asked us “what are the implications”. They have asked us not only as the provider of their submission system but also because we are the leading experts in this field. They need insight into what it means for researchers, academics, field leaders and anyone else who has worked so hard to get the recognition for their work that they deserve.

But there’s more than this, there are massive financial implications; for those that have submitted, those that have registered to attend and those that are running the events.

I have seen some incredible generosity from delegates who have openly and willingly donated the registration fees they have paid, despite the event being cancelled. In one case, it was a very sad situation as it was to be the very last running of an incredible event that was in its tenth and final incarnation. A large proportion of this well loved meeting’s delegate choose to donate their registration fee to the organisers who were going to be horribly out of pocket without their help.  This empathy model is something that we wanted to follow: to make us proud of what we are doing to help support others at this time.

Offering expert advice is one thing, but how could we actually make a difference?

Well, there are a number of financial and technical implications of postponing an event. There is the obvious opportunity cost of missing out on running the same event next year as technically it is just this year’s event, just postponed. More importantly, the postponed event must be hosted and supported for an additional amount of time that was not envisaged when the agreement was first made. All of our clients have recognised this, and all have asked us what they need to do.

This puts me in a difficult position – do I take the money that is on offer or do I do what I can to help those who may be in more need than me? These are people that I want to keep as customers, and I can’t afford for them to disappear under the financial pressure. By following the empathy model, am I actually investing in my own future?

Yes, absolutely. By offering to extend the contract period to cover the postponement without any cost, I am helping those organisers who have been put in a very difficult position. It is only a small help but someone wiser than me once said every little helps.

Then I got a shock of my own. My customers are now making voluntary payments to help cover our costs. I haven’t asked for anything at all to run their events for longer, but they are searching their budgets to find a way to help us back.

Funny how the world works, right? I’m not the greatest believer in karma but I can most certainly see the sense. Those positive people may just be right – we will get through this – we will get through this together!

By Dan, 0 Comments
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linked In

Apocalypse_vasnetsov sm

Well, not the apocalypse, more like the ”Four A's of the Submission World” but that doesn't sound so exciting, does it?

  • Abstracts
  • Awards
  • Academic papers
  • Applications

So, event management software isn't easy to liken to a prophecy where a quarter of the population of the earth would die, but, if you are an event organiser, you know what it can be like to have submitters, reviewers, chairs, keynotes, delegates, clients and the committee all looking at you when they have a problem.  A problem of such biblical proportions, only you can help them!

What can you do?

Well, you can choose a system that has been designed with you in mind.

Too many times I hear salesmen telling clients that the system has been designed to give the delegate a rich and amazing experience – how about the person who actually has to use it?  These are my favourite sales buzz words at the moment: Interactivity, cloud based and the absolute best, gamification.  Don't get me wrong, all these things are wonderful and the people that peddle them really have created something wonderful (hopefully).  But there's a lot to be said for having you, nothing else really, just you, in mind when giving you software to work with.

It is because You are our customer.  You are the one that has to cope with the deluge of problems, and it is you that has to decide what system you are using next year.  If I can give your delegates a great experience, if I can keep your committee, your reviewers and your submitters satisfied, then I am going to keep you happy.  But, and here is the point, any system that sells a unique user experience may be able to keep participants happy, but are they truly making your life easier, or as I suspect, is it becoming more difficult to entertain these unrealistic fads?

What do I mean?  Well, take facial recognition.  It is amazing – it truly is.  As someone with a technical degree, I love it.  But I’m a business owner now – where is the ROI?  Facial recognition has a less than 25% take up at most events, is prohibitively expensive (around £80,000 for an average event was the last quote I saw), and has an acceptable tolerance level for failures.  That means £80,000 for a quarter of the delegates and even then it doesn’t always work.  Money well spent?  Not really.  But it seemed like such a great piece of event tech – it won awards!  It is great, it’s just not practical.  But it is the latest fad and the committee wanted it.

I know that any system has to have bells and whistles, but first and foremost, I want to see you have the tools you need to do your job far more effectively.  I see conference or congress organisers work every hour there is, with no sleep in the days leading up to an event, just to make sure the supplier delivers on time.  And they do it, they always manage somehow, but they age ten years in the process.

That's what Firebird is fixing - giving you the tools to keep that swan-like appearance up.  You can achieve amazing results, do fantastic things behind the scenes and look fabulous whilst you are doing it!

You need a system that can cope with the demands you place on it.  You need a system that bends the way you want it too, especially when you only thought of an idea just now.  You need Firebird – the only system that can keep up with You.

(Picture above by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov, not me).

By Dan, 0 Comments
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linked In

Flexible, in every possible way.

To give you an idea of how powerful Firebird really is, this is a recent conversation I had with a client:

Customer: “Can we have abstract submission with multiple text boxes, all with their own minimum word count, that total up to a combined maximum word count?”

Me: “Easily done.”

Customer: “We would then like that to be reviewed with our committee’s 6 scoring criteria, with different weighting for each criterion”.

Me: “No problem.”

Customer: “We then need an anonymous draft paper submission, followed by reviewing by the same set of abstract reviewers, but this time with a different set of questions, followed by full papers, followed by single blind reviewing, followed by revisions and then a double blind final review”.

Me: “Sure.”

Customer: “Final review to be done with a different set of reviewers, who can see the first set of draft paper reviews and revisions”

Me: “Got it.  Although, if any of the previous reviewers declared a conflict of interest because its their submission, it takes away the point of double blind reviewing for the new reviewer if they are to see all previous reviews.”

Customer: “We have never thought about that.  I’ll raise it with the committee.  Ah yes, we then need a committee sign off so that committee members with specialist areas can see all reviews for certain submissions and complete their own reviewing moderation”.

Me: “Ok.”

Customer: “Can committee members make final decisions on submissions?”.

Me: “If you want them to, yes.”

Customer: “Oh, and we need committee members to be able to add reviewers in their specialist area and assign submissions to them.”

Me: “You got it.”

Customer: “Can we then ask accepted posters to upload their posters in a certain format and oral presenters to submit their presentation?”

Me: “Yes, we make sure only accepted orals can upload presentations and onlyaccepted posters can upload posters – there’s zero chance of confusion or errors!”

Customer: Pause. “You can do all this?”

Me: “And more.”

Customer: “Are we your most demanding customer?”

Me: Pause.“Not by a long way!”

Sounds like a new challenge has been set – do you think you have demanding requirements?  Why not challenge us to see if we are flexible enough to meet your needs!


By Dan, 0 Comments
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linked In

Everyone knows it’s good to talk, it’s good to engage with your customers or your suppliers to maintain the relationship.  It goes a long way to keep the status quo…

But we know you want much more than just the status quo.  There have been a lot of studies showing communication works best when it’s face to face – where people can engage with real people, right in front of them.  All the nuances that get lost over an instant message or phone call make a massive difference to actually achieving what you are trying to do.

For instance, if you were designing abstract management software for PCOs, would you do it differently?  Of course you would – you’re professionals and you know exactly what you need!  Can you convey that in an email, instant message or phone call.  No, its not so easy.  It really can be difficult to communicate new ideas to someone without having that person in front of you to judge how your message is getting through.

Its the same for suppliers.  I could tell you how good something is over a phone call perhaps, but what would be better is if I could show you – let you see it, touch it and grasp the concept for yourself.  There is nothing better than watching someone experiencing that lightbulb moment and you can’t do that over email!

That’s why Firebird is delighted to partner with MCI and take part in the Future of Meetings at The Meetings Show 2018.  This amazing show is taking part on 27th-28th June 2018 in Olympia, London.  This is our opportunity to really engage with our customers – we want you to come along and tell us what we can do to make your job as a conference organiser easier.

TMS2018 Firebird

There’s no denying our favourite clients are those that we have spent time getting to know, finding out their issues and working with them to design and implement the solutions they need.  We’ve now met quite a few of our clients and things have gone from strength to strength.  We’ve taken the time to understand the problems they face and delivered real solutions that fix the underlying problem or help to make the PCO work more efficiently…

…and we want to do the same for you!

Come and visit us on the Future of Meetings stand TS06 and tell us what we can do for you!

TMS2018 Firebird horizontal