It’s official: in-person events are back in full swing. With solid footing gained from the experience of the last two years, event organizers have responded to delegates’ wishes to return on-site with plenty of safe, in-person programming options.
Practice makes perfect
We’ve learned a lot in the last few months, as we’ve seen dozens of organizations return to in-person formats after years of online-only events. Our experience has shown that people can’t wait to be back on site, but events and conferences look and work a bit differently than they used to. In many places, pandemic restrictions are still an important consideration that impact the size and accessibility of in-person events. As a result, many organizing committees are still taking advantage of the benefits afforded by hybrid and virtual tools to enhance the in-person experience.
Don’t say goodbye to virtual
As eager as most are to return to in-person meetings, it’s safe to say that the event tech industry is going to keep virtual platforms in its toolbelt. This interview from Skift Meetings looks closely at how virtual and hybrid meetings are transitioning from “temporary solutions” to “permanent fixtures” for event tech planners. One of the interviewees, Kathryn Frankson, says, “The key to success is in believing in the power that virtual offers, letting go of the idea of virtual as secondary to in-person events and anchoring into the value that it offers both you and your audience.” Our experience tells us she is right.
With hybrid meetings becoming the dominant model, there is still much to be learned. Event organizers grapple with the benefits of synchronous versus asynchronous events, and how to make meeting programming more engaging with adding electronic elements, like poster boards. Regardless, facilitating audience engagement will remain the bottom line.
What we’ve been up to
After a year of almost exclusively virtual events, since September 2021 we’ve supported dozens of hybrid and in-person events and attended to provide in-person support at nine of those. Here is the rundown:
ANESTHESIOLOGY 2021: The American Society of Anesthesiologists is a beloved and long-time customer of ours. We provided in-person support as thousands of posters were presented at their annual event. With ASA we did oral presentations, live timed eposter presentations, and local eposter viewing stations. You can read more about ePostersLive’s collaboration with ASA in our recent interview with their Senior Education Programs Specialist, Rachel Gutterman . Our staff loved the trip to San Diego, and can’t wait to see everyone again this year in NOLA!
Next we attended ACAAI 2021 for the annual meeting for the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. The conference was in New Orleans, a city we love.
Our next event was another anesthesiology conference: PGA75 in New York. Our team took some amazing photos, which you can check out here. Eleni described PGA as “a fantastic experience,” saying that “at PGA I got to meet doctors and moderators who I had only seen on camera at ASA 2021 Oral Presentations. Especially if you’re someone who likes to travel like me, it’s amazing to visit a place you’ve never been before and to explore what the city has to offer.” She can’t wait to go this winter as we support the NYSSA’s annual event again in 2022.
We received similar feedback from doctors and researchers at conferences. Attendees’ excitement at the venues was palpable! Of all the reasons they were glad to be back, being able to reunite with colleagues and mentors topped the list. People also mentioned they had missed seeing posters in person and the opportunity to travel, as well.
New York City
Next we traveled to PNEUMO 2021 in Athens, Greece and then back to the US for the ASA’s ADVANCE in Texas and the Academy of Osseointegration’s Annual Meeting in California. Our support team member Natasa, who supported both US events, told us that “being back on site is a different experience. On our end, since I love traveling, I had definitely missed it. The logistics and processes for an on-site supporting conference are more complex than supporting virtually, but it is all worth the experience!” While the logistics are a bit more involved, we appreciate being able to be back in person at some events. In addition to the perks of hybrid and virtual such as increased accessibility, we’ve been enjoying the best of both worlds.
Other events we’ve attended on-site this year include the Obstetric Anaesthesia Annual Scientific Meeting in Newport, Wales, the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) 2022 in Chicago, US, and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Annual Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. Of his experience at RCOphth, our team member Vangelis noted that “the interactions between us and delegates onsite is higher than at virtual events. It also helps us to collect feedback for our product.” Attendees and conference organizers alike expressed that, despite the many benefits of virtual, some aspects of on-site meetings are irreplaceable. We’re inclined to agree.
What we had missed
When asked what they had missed about in-person events, face-to-face interactions, a change in routine from the last few years, and both the joys and hassles of travel were fondly recalled by many members of the ePostersLive team. They also agreed that many of the conveniences of virtual meetings only add to the on-site experience, and see hybrid as a format that will continue to improve for organizers and conference guests alike as its use continues to expand.
What we expect in the rest of 2022
For the fall and winter of 2022 and beyond, it seems we will continue to see an increase in in-person events compared to the rates from the last couple of years. Nevertheless, these are not ‘old-fashioned’ conferences by any means. Hybrid elements will likely continue to be a feature of most conferences to come, even after the pandemic has subsided, because of the many perks of online event tech. With dozens of virtual meetings under our belt, we’re eager to keep honing our skills and offering tools that help organizers host the most interactive and engaging events, regardless of platform.
Do you agree that hybrid is here to stay? Contact us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ePostersLive, or email us at [email protected] to let us know what you think.