The congress team of Cankarjev dom have executed several dozens of hybrid and online international events and congresses during COVID-19. Ms. Breda Pečovnik, Congress and Commercial Programme Director of Cankarjev dom is proud that their team have swiftly adapted to the needs of event organisers and gained the know-how needed to make the shift into online and hybrid events of various sorts. To achieve that, they relied on the upgraded online platform OnAir. The trailblazing app was designed for organising in-person events. With its latest addition, OnAir now serves for organising demanding hybrid and online events.
We asked Ms. Tina Kramberger, Congress Project Manager in CD, who has together with the team organised numerous online congresses and events on the OnAir platform during the corona crisis, the most common questions posed by congress organisers.
FAQ about hybrid and virtual events
Q1: Why should one use a special platform when organising a hybrid congress?
Using a platform for organising hybrid events has added value, both for event attendees and organisers. Compared to simple platforms for organising events, such as Zoom, OnAir allows attendees much more than just listening to presentations. Attendees accessing content via the platform also have access to seminars, workshops and a virtual gallery of posters, where speakers are presented in detail. Moreover, they can access sponsor profiles, with whom they can arrange meetings or view recordings of presentations. They can, furthermore, connect, share notes, exchange opinions or enter video conversations with other virtual attendees, thus experiencing networking to an extent. On occasions, we try to engage attendees with gamification – attendees strive to collect points and win trophies and small rewards. In fact, platforms give a sense of community and accessibility to knowledge, information and most importantly, other people. Organisers and sponsors particularly praise analytics, i.e., the possibility of exporting data of any activity on the platform. That information is priceless and enables complete personalisation and adaption to the needs of attendees, participants and sponsors.
Q2: Our speakers know Zoom best. What are the advantages of using AIRCast in comparison with other apps?
AirCast studio is among the plentiful possibilities of channelling content on the OnAir platform. Given that most attendees are used to Zoom, we decided to stick to Zoom webinars with most of our virtual and hybrid events, as it is integrated into the OnAir portfolio. The greatest advantage of Zoom is that people have become accustomed to it. AirCast studio, on the other hand, has most of the tools Zoom offers, yet the final picture is much more like a television production and has better quality. AirCast Studio enables plenty of functionality similar to a professional television/media production, including managing cameras in the halls, video recordings, pictures, links etc.
Q3: Why is organising hybrid events more expensive than organising live events?
It is more expensive because next to organising an event where the conference takes place, the content needs to be provided to digital attendees and, from them, back into the halls. Hence, there are expenses due to the conference taking place in-person, complemented by cameras, staff and editing for the needs of virtual attendees. The content, furthermore, needs to be presented to online attendees who need to be included in the event. We also have to consider the technical support in the hall and the staff in charge of studio production that acts as technical support for users of the OnAir platform. The expenses are thus rather high. However, the sky is the limit when it comes to virtual participation because we are no longer restrained by the capacity of halls.
The pandemic has furthered the development of this segment. Nonetheless, the reason behind such interest in virtual/hybrid participation at events is not just current health limitations regarding travel. A vital factor is finances, considering travelling has become more expensive, funds for education have been reduced, and people have started to appreciate their free time more. Attendees only decide to attend in person after careful consideration, much more compared to the past.
Q4: Who ensures that online speakers tune in on time and flawlessly?
Preparing the project, the website and communicating with speakers is of utmost importance. When organising virtual and hybrid events, we always have a few days before the event to stage a rehearsal, where speakers and active attendees get acquainted with the platform. We check their connections, they share their presentations, and together we resolve any problem. When organising an event in person, we ask speakers to join us in the studio or on Zoom a bit before the start to give them final guidelines. If, however, someone is still late, we usually have a designated person appointed by the client, who calls the speaker through various channels and reminds them or helps them tune in to the platform successfully. The most important role when organising such events, of course, belongs to the hosts – every presentation or section has its host, who ensures everything runs smoothly and helps speakers if needed. The invisible support of the technical team is omniscient and helps guide both speakers and attendees to solve any possible issues via chatboxes or video platforms.
Q5: How can we use the OnAir platform to present sponsors and connect them with attendees?
The OnAir platform enables a virtual presentation of sponsors, which can also be tridimensional, thus giving a sense of almost being present in the foyer of the exhibition area itself. Sponsors and exhibitors can add a ton of content to the website, including brochures, videos, links, banners and logotypes. The conference programme also includes the so-called Sponsor Meeting, where attendees can actively meet with representatives of sponsors through video or chat. Throughout the duration of the conference, sponsors can get in touch with the attendees via the meeting hub. To analyse a sponsor’s success rate at virtual/hybrid events, it is crucial to have strong analytics or data export concerning the views on individual content segments and the number of meetings. There is a sea of options, yet success largely depends on how engaged the sponsors are and how agile representatives are on the platform. A lot depends on the willingness of the client to actively incorporate their sponsor’s content into the conference.
The PCO department of Cankarjev dom has been cooperating with EventsAIR for more than 20 years. Despite the ever-changing needs of the meetings industry, this technology provider continues to enhance its offer with innovative, tested solutions that offer event organisers worldwide to create successful events. The platform OnAIR and their novelty – studio AIRCast are included within the portal.
Reference: 4th European Conference on Domestic Violence – ECDV 2021
“OnAir represented a solution for our conference as we had to transform our three-day meeting, otherwise offering numerous opportunities for informal meetings and networking in the live version, to a digital event. Cankarjev dom was our conference organiser and showed us the OnAir platform that ensures excellent presentations and interactive work in smaller groups. The conference was conducted flawlessly, without any technical impediments. The team of Cankarjev dom helped us tremendously to prepare and execute everything we planned – from plenary lectures, discussion and the roundtable, where numerous speakers and the audience were involved, to different levels of attendee engagement,” said Ana Marija Sobočan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chair of social justice and social inclusion studies at the Faculty of Social Work at Ljubljana University.