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Photo Credit: Cankarjev dom

The peak of the congress season in Cankarjev dom

June is considered the peak of the congress season in CD-Congress Centre Ljubljana. One of the numerous international congresses has just concluded, and Cankarjev dom is gearing up for the next. The European Society for Paediatric Nephrology was one of the few to continue organising its annual meetings even during Covid-19. Their annual meeting in 2020 was organised virtually, while in 2021 and 2022, the solution was a hybrid format. Organisers are glad that the total number of participants, who attended the conference live and online even exceeded the last year’s participation of 700 attendees.

We chatted with Ms Mateja Peric, Project Manager at CD Congress centre Ljubljana, in charge of organising ESPN 2022, about the challenges congress organisers are facing in 2022:

“We expected on-site attendance to skyrocket after the corona crisis and people yearning to meet in person. However, that was not the case with ESPN and similar conferences. The live attendance was 40% lower at the conference compared to previous years. We can blame the newly-imposed rules in hospitals that prevent doctors from travelling to congresses for the downturn in attendee numbers. Moreover, attendees themselves are afraid they will get infected with COVID-19.”

cankarjev_dom
Photo Credit: Cankarjev dom

What are the financial challenges that arose during the corona crisis?

“Due to the hybrid format, the number of attendees online was higher. Participating online is cheaper for attendees, as there are no additional travel and accommodation costs. However, costs rise for organisers, given that the organisation is noticeably more expensive as technology and technical equipment are still high-priced n Slovenia. What is more, the number of technology providers is surprisingly low. In addition, the income from registration fees is smaller, considering the fee is cheaper by 20 to 25% for online attendees. Given there was less support from sponsors, there were not enough resources to organise social events. Furthermore, the gastronomical segment was less impressive because of rising food costs.”

cankarjev_dom
Photo Credit: Cankarjev dom

Are hybrid events here to stay? What are the advantages?

“One of the positive aspects of organising an event in hybrid format is that keynote speakers and experts from faraway countries, who otherwise would not attend the conference, can participate. After the corona crisis, sustainable aspirations have been at the forefront of the meetings industry. Organising events in hybrid form and consequently fewer flights contribute to such endeavours. The organisers strived to adhere to recommendations by IAPCO as much as possible. One of the measures at this year’s ESPN meeting was eliminating goodie bags with promotional material. In addition, there were no printed miscellanies of the event’s topics. Cankarjev dom organised the gastronomical experience sustainably, completely free of any plastic. The selection of dishes was moderate due to sustainable packaging. Leftover food was given to charitable organisations. We are honoured that, as an event venue and an integral part of Ljubljana, we can advise event organisers and help them organise environment-friendly events.”

Find out more about the conference at https://espn2022.org/index.php.