The Fieldays Online concept and digital platform was created in just under 108 days.
As the country went into lockdown the New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) began building an online event following the cancellation of the physical Fieldays; effectively transforming the largest agricultural show in the southern hemisphere into a completely virtual experience.
The success of the event, from July 13 to 26, was measured in several ways, from visitor numbers to global reach.
Total digital visitors hit 90,455, with attendees from over 75 countries accessing nearly 300 exhibitors and over 24 hours of Fieldays TV content.
Digital adoption in higher age groups exceeded expectations with 40 per cent of registered users in the 50+ age group.
"The analytics show great viewership and engagement with the explosion of international visitors and, locally, a much higher regional spread beyond the traditional Fieldays.
"The success of this year's event was a testament to the strong collaboration with our exhibitors and our relationships with industry leaders that got behind it despite not having a benchmark," said NZNFS CEO Peter Nation.
The timing of the event was positioned to allow time for exhibitors to return to business post lockdown and leverage the event to the fullest. While this fell during the beginning of calving, registered users in the dairy industry ranked third in industry type.
International supporters Enterprise Ireland, who attended Fieldays for the 14th year, found that moving to an online event widened engagement with clients and colleagues overseas.
"Despite the cancellation of the physical event, we found the digital space still supported the showcasing of our clients and Irish agritech innovation greatly. We used as many tools as possible from co-hosting webinars, our first virtual NZ Advisory Agri Panel through to the Fieldays exhibitor portal.
"The virtual Innovations arena and Innovation Awards really gave Irish participants a fantastic platform, enjoyed locally and at home in Ireland," said Niall Casey, Enterprise Ireland's market adviser for agribusiness in New Zealand.
Fieldays Online was created in partnership with Satellite Media, a digital innovation, activation, event and content creation agency based in Auckland.
Fieldays TV was filmed live in studio and available on-demand throughout the event. The top performing elements included Fieldays Future Focus talks, a series of topical discussions with industry leaders.
Fieldays Kitchen featured seven Kiwi chefs.
The globally renowned Fieldays Innovation Awards was streamed live and saw the highest number of live views.
Exhibitors that supported the first Fieldays Online did so without a benchmark. This leap of faith paid off for the team at Xero who enjoyed hosting their own Fieldays TV Beautiful Business seminars throughout the event.
"We were thrilled with the new format as it provided the opportunity to connect with the wider Agri community. It's a testament to the Fieldays team's experience that they were able to quickly pivot into an online event so successfully," said Xero NZ brand and marketing director Valerie Walshe.
Exhibitors who paid for a site for the physical event were offered the choice of an 80 per cent refund or to leave their site fees with the society for the 2021 event.
Only 27 per cent opted for a refund. Of the online exhibitors, 4 per cent were new Fieldays exhibitors.
The event was supported by local industry leaders including Farmlands Co-operative, Federated Farmers, NZ Young Farmers, DairyNZ, AgritechNZ, Precision Farming, Greenlea Meats and Gallagher Animal Management. Guest speakers from these organisations featured on Fieldays TV to discuss a range of relevant industry issues.
Nation acknowledged that the online and physical Fieldays are two different types of events built to achieve different goals and speak to different audiences.
"This provides great opportunity for 2021 when we bring the two together to make the absolute best of both.
"Fieldays Online is an extension of what we can offer in the future and it's about keeping Fieldays alive. The digital event will provide longevity to the physical event as well as maximising coverage for exhibitors and visitors, supporting jobs and boosting the economy."