VetForum: a different way of doing business

OpenRoom: business to business

OpenRoom is a company that creates industry-specific events across the world. Founded in 2004 and based in London, the company has expanded into various professions, most recently the veterinary profession. OpenRoom runs international business to business forums (B2B) where suppliers and vet groups can connect in an organic and efficient way. It organises VetForum,  a two-day event designed to build relationships between vet groups and suppliers and to promote opportunities and exploration of new veterinary products and ideas.

Due to the pandemic, VetForum 2021 will be held in the UK for the first time since it started in 2017. The event will run from 5th-6th October at the De Vere Cotswold Hotel in Cirencester, and will otherwise follow a similar format to previous years.

VetForum OpenRoom Events

What happens at VetForum events?

Before the event, suppliers are sent a finalised list of vet groups and vet groups are sent a list of suppliers; each attendee then selects their top choices of who they want to meet with. From this, organisers can try and ensure that everyone meets with their top choices.

The event spans across two days. The first day runs as a normal conference, with a particular emphasis on generating discussions with industry leaders. The second day incorporates a vet group session in the morning, providing an opportunity for vet groups to engage in candid discussions on industry trends and, in light of the tumultuous events of the past year, use it as an opportunity to share advice and learnings from throughout the pandemic.

Suppliers and vet group interactions are organised through face-to-face 15 minute conversations in a speed dating style format. For suppliers, it’s an opportunity to reconnect, and through pre-selecting attendees it means that the right people can connect and discuss business in an efficient way. By choosing who you want to talk to, OpenRoom then creates a personalised schedule for each attendee.

India Clare, accounts manager at OpenRoom Events, explains, “The idea behind the structure of VetForum is that you know who you are meeting before you get to the event, so you’ll be better prepared to pitch your ideas in an environment that is less stressful and more efficient for doing business. It’s really what makes VetForum unique and stand out.”

Business abroad: a focus on wellbeing

The idea behind VetForum normally being organised outside of the UK is to encourage people to put on their out of hours on their emails and fully invest in the event. Even though VetForum is work related, organisers want to encourage attendees to take time out of their everyday lives and fully immerse in the event. From a wellness perspective, it’s common knowledge that as vets we don’t often have as much time off as we would like, or have as much time to unwind from the job as we might need. VetForum offers an event where you can do both, with previous events being held in Spain and Portugal – meaning that you can still do business, albeit in a more relaxed, and often warmer, environment. 

This year, in light of the uncertainty around the pandemic and impact on international travel, the event will decidedly take place in the UK – with a strong focus remaining on wellbeing and taking the time to recharge, network and socialise alongside doing business.

VetForum OpenRoom events

Why get involved?

For vet groups, peer to peer networking is an opportunity to engage in dynamic discussions with other vet groups, both corporate and independent, to share and learn knowledge and experiences. Rather than having to take time out of an already busy schedule to meet with a sales representative, VetForum provides an opportunity to speak to several suppliers in the speed dating format.  The event isn’t just about business – it’s also about connecting with others in the profession. Attendees have all their meals together, providing an organic way to connect and socialise with others and going beyond the realm of just talking about business. Virtual conferences on zoom have become the norm in the last year and have enabled us to get a  glimpse into someone’s private life which we may otherwise have not seen. This seems to be the trend we are now moving towards – through wanting to get to know others on a deeper level than just a handshake and talking business.

Impact of Covid-19

Like many other events companies, OpenRoom has suffered as a result of Covid. It has faced challenges with organising and adapting events to a virtual format and also faced the difficulty of redundancies within the company.

Looking at the more positive impact within the events sector, the rate of development for the events industry is increasing, especially with the fast paced advancements of technology. Before the pandemic, events were naturally focused on face-to-face contact and content, with technology often an afterthought. The rapid shift of focus onto technology has seen some exciting developments and potential for future events.

As a result of the pandemic, OpenRoom adapted events to a virtual format, trying to emulate the face-to-face structure as much as possible. With a heightened awareness of zoom fatigue, events were condensed to run for only one day, to minimise screen time as much as possible. 

“The online events went really well, and we were still able to keep the intimate feel of the events which we were really pleased with. Being able to organise an event after only a month of planning gave us a lot of faith for 2021, especially as it has been a really hard year for everyone,” explains India Clare.

Testimonial from previous events

Mark Gill, Operations Director at Goddard Veterinary Group, attended previous VetForum events and said, “I attended the first two VetForum events on behalf of our practice and am looking forward to attending the third later this year.

“The meetings with prospective suppliers which operates using a ‘speed-dating’ model is unique in my experience and provides a way to hold introductory conversations with a much wider range of suppliers than would be possible in any other forum. Together with the networking and social events held during the forum I have found it to be a productive, fun and commercially successful event to attend.

“We have as a direct result of VetForum done business with several that we would have otherwise not happened. The VetForum team are wonderful professionals; well organised and conscientious, they make the event hugely enjoyable and an unmissable event in the veterinary calendar.”

How to get involved?

Suppliers and vet groups can register online, or email india@openroomevents.com for more information.

More information about OpenRoom and VetForum can be found here.