The Secret Formula Of Successful Hybrid Meetings [Case Study]

Skift Take

When planning a large event, logistics and connectivity are top priorities. This case study looks at how Austria Center Vienna helped organizers at UEG Week set up a unique hybrid conference with the aim of advancing the field of digestive science through knowledge sharing.

This is a case study sponsored by Austria Center Vienna. More information about Event Manager Blog’s case studies.

The Event

UEG Week is one of the most prestigious gastroenterology meetings in the world. From October 15-19, 2016, UEG Week Vienna hosted 12,552 on-site attendees from the field of digestive science, with a further 1,320 participating via the online portal.

The 24th UEG Week featured 600 lectures given by a combination of invited speakers and independent researchers over the course of five days. Participants could also access content from the event via the UEG Week 24/7 portal. Non-participants were able to gain access to all content recorded from the event for €99 or purchase subject related collections at €29. All content, viewable on any device, is still available to download or view online.

Alongside the main exhibition halls, various session formats were made available thanks to Austria Center Vienna’s innovative flexible spaces. Attendees were able to take part in interactive workshops and had access to ultrasound and endoscopic surgical learning areas. A highlight of the event was a real-life endoscopic procedure live streamed from an operating theater in Brussels. All of the sessions were fully equipped with moderators to facilitate audience engagement and keep conversation on-track.

UEG Week Vienna also featured e-poster lounges where attendees could access independent research and presentations submitted to the event via an online abstract submissions process. The most innovative and prescient abstracts were then selected for presentation. On-site access to the abstracts was gained via e-terminals situated within the lounges.

Quick Facts

  • UEG Week attracted a total of 13,872 participants from 116 countries (12,552 on-site, 1,320 via live-stream).
  • A total of 2,286 unique exhibitors were present at UEG Week Vienna.
  • 600 presentations recorded are available online at UEG Week 24/7.
  • UEG Week came back to Austria Center Vienna for the third time in the event’s 24 year history and will return to Vienna in 2018.
  • The 25th UEG Week, 2017 will be hosted in Barcelona.

The Challenges

1. Fast Consistent WiFi Was Essential

Large medical congresses need to support several digital touch points including an app with an electronic voting system, slide center solutions, live streaming, hybrid meetings, social media interaction, real-time chat and new presentation tools for scientific studies. All of this needs a seamless high-bandwidth internet connection that can support up to 20,000 people at the same time. With this, the event also needed to be able to support a live streamed endoscopy from an operating theater in Brussels.

2. Multiple Session Formats

UEG Week needed to accommodate various session formats to support the myriad programs designed for knowledge sharing. These included interactive workshops, roundtable discussions, product presentations, satellite symposiums and talks forum to 3,000 people as well as hands-on training sessions to teach surgical endoscopic and ultrasound techniques.

The Venue

Austria Center Vienna, located seven minutes away from the city center by underground, is the biggest congress venue in Austria, with the ability to support up to 20,000 delegates. Alongside 22,000m² of exhibition space, the center also boasts 24 lecture rooms for between 100 and 4,320 attendees and 180 meeting rooms. The flexible spaces are able to support everything from 22m² rooms for one-on-one sessions up to rooms for 200 participants and various lecture rooms.

In 2016, Austria Center Vienna won the INCON Digital Infrastructure award for its WLAN (wireless network) which can happily host 20,000 delegates or 35,000 simultaneous connections from multiple devices. A 100 Mbit/s internet connection is available to all organizers free of charge under standard agreements. Wireless connectivity is also supported by 1,500 permanent wired LAN connections spread throughout the venue.

Austria Center Vienna has an online virtual tour to assist meeting organizers in venue selection and space planning for large conferences.

Venue Strengths

  • Easy to reach
  • Unbeatable flexibility
  • Large in-house inventory
  • High-Speed WiFi Connection
  • Dedicated on-site Support Team

The Objectives

  • Engage participants from both on-site and online audiences.
  • Attract new participants for future UEG events.
  • Allow participants to share knowledge in the field of gastroenterology.
  • Help participants network and meet peers.

How The Objectives Were Achieved

Austria Center Vienna was designed with large events in mind and as such provided an ideal exhibition space as well as flexible spaces which allowed the event to cater for various workshop formats and networking areas. For this, a newly opened 600m² flexible space was made available. The meeting space is conveniently located close to the main entrance and registration area.

Combined with the venue’s excellent digital infrastructure, this allowed both on-site and online participants to immerse themselves in a broad range of interactive activities. The addition of e-poster lounges also allowed individuals to present their own scientific research to peers and meet with others who could help them achieve publishing goals.

Also, Austria Center Vienna provided UEG Week with a dedicated project manager and on-site event technicians. Austria Center Vienna also supplied an in-house AV partner and catering services to the event. Although organizers may use their own partners, Austria Center Vienna has a couple of experienced and long standing partners they recommend. Event organizers have the choice of two on-site catering partners.

The Results

Thanks to the Austria Center Vienna’s flexible spaces, on-site team, and WiFi capabilities, UEG Week successfully met the needs of over 13,000 delegates. The event allowed scientists to connect and share knowledge in the field of gastroenterology face-to-face and online. The event will be returning to Austria Center Vienna in 2018.

Takeaways For Event Planners

Organizing Events is More Than Selecting the Right Space

Before you set out, it’s important to have the right kind of space for your event and that comes down to more than just the number of people that will fit in the building. Along with making sure your venue is big enough, it’s important to assess whether that space has everything your attendees will need. Experienced partners, you can rely on, like those provided by Austria Center Vienna are also very important. Austria Center Vienna has 30 years experience in bringing event organizers visions to life.

Connectivity is King

Believe it or not, event WiFi is still an issue. In fact, these days, with almost everyone owning and using multiple devices 24/7, it’s more of an issue than ever. Attendees, both online and on-site are now accessing much richer content including images, videos, and large downloads. UEG Week Vienna was able to cater for up to 13,000 users as well as online e-terminals in e-poster lounges at Austria Center Vienna. The progression of digital and mobile technology has been a great boost to events and gives attendees many different digital touchpoints to optimize learning. Continued access to content post-event is also key, allowing attendees to catch up with anything they missed. Online content also acts as a showcase, encouraging participants and non-participants to register for future events

In Conclusion

For an event like UEG Week, choosing the right venue was key. Austria Center Vienna was able to meet the needs of a highly interactive event through a large and highly-adaptable space with unrivaled connectivity, excellent on-site support, and a great location.