In 2010, a few dedicated Citrix engineers and consultants decided that the UK had gone without a proper Citrix user group for long enough. So, over a beer, a plan was hatched! Eleven years later, the UK Citrix User Group has a steering committee, runs four well attended events a year, has an active Twitter feed and a busy community chat channel. Their strapline is, “For the community, by the community”.
In the early days, the steering committee organised the content and event logistics themselves, updated the website and kept up with their social channels on top of full-time jobs. It soon became apparent that to grow the group they would need additional support and so approached the team at Outsourced Events. OE was already an established supplier with Citrix since 2001 with knowledge of both their channel and end-user communities.
Working together, a new annual sponsorship model was devised which meant that membership could remain free but increased revenue would result in an enhanced delegate experience and therefore an uplift in attendance and membership. This in turn would deliver more data and an increased audience for sponsors as well as an opportunity to put their brand in front of Citrix users. It would also offer delegates an opportunity to meet with a variety of partners offering a range of solutions, saving them time and money and adding value to their membership. A truly symbiotic relationship.
Signing annual sponsors at the beginning of the year meant that the team had their annual budget and could plan all four events accordingly. A key element of the successful sponsorship model was to ensure that membership continued to grow, with new faces attending the events. The steering committee was also keen to ensure that the user group was not “London centric”, so two of the four events were held in the “regions” which helped to attract new delegates to the community.
The team at Outsourced Events took on the sponsorship sales and liaison, leveraging relationships with Citrix Partners.
With the increase in revenue and a dedicated event team, it was possible to source venues that offered added value for attendees, sponsors and speakers. The OE team was able to offer their print on demand registration service that was not only fast but provided data in real time and allowed the use of a lead capture app for sponsors.
Freeing the steering committee to concentrate on the content of the meetings meant that the quality of speakers and sessions remained consistently high, offering real value to the members.
The improved experience as a whole has added to the already professional image of the User Group.
As with anything, there have been challenges. Securing sponsorship by continuing to deliver value has been important as without the right level of sponsorship, the events cannot run. Asking for regular feedback from the sponsors and working creatively to find solutions within budget that deliver has worked well. A paid social campaign from Outsourced Engagement is planned in Q3 as a cost-effective way to increase attendance of new delegates.
Out of Adversity Comes Opportunity
When the global pandemic hit in March 2020, Outsourced Events supported the steering committee to pivot to virtual events. They sourced an event platform that not only offered live streaming but also allowed the community to interact with each other and engage with the content via gamification, chats, polls and Q&A. Due to the wider reach of virtual, throughout the past year, the group has hosted speakers from the USA, The Netherlands and Belgium and increased membership by 30%! As each session is available almost immediately on demand, this has meant that members can revisit sessions or catch up on anything that they missed.
Next Steps for UKCUG
The next UK Citrix User Group meeting is 21 September 2021 and will be a free to attend hybrid event in Leeds. Whilst not confirmed yet, we fully expect to have speakers not only in person, but also joining remotely; just as we will have attendees in the room and interacting virtually. The pandemic has broadened the reach of the User Group and allowed people who ordinarily could not attend to access the content. We look forward to the results of the paid social campaign and getting feedback on the group’s first fully hybrid event!
If you would like help with building your membership group or community, contact the team at Outsourced Events.