Part II - Exclusive behind-the-scenes insights
What is the situation 22 days before the Meeting in Duisburg?
...we continue to hope for a hybrid solution, meaning that the event will be at least live from Duisburg and streamed online. That was how Part I of the Insight series ended. Today, 22 July, we are 22 days away from the final UPDATE event on 13 August in Duisburg. What has happened behind the scenes in recent weeks? Has a decision been taken on the format of the event in Duisburg? Many questions – interesting answers!
The current situation:
The current rules imposed by local authorities mean that – with the current 7-day incidence of 8.0 – we are permitted to welcome 222 participants in Duisburg's Mercator Halle. At the same time, UPDATE 2021 is to be made available as a live stream on our meeting platform. 70% of the anticipated participants have registered to date – 130 of these to take part in person.
Interview with the project managers Jasmin Bobinger & Katharina Heinke
To what extent does a conflict arise between health protection at the site and the implementation of an attractive live event? Will a congress still be enjoyable under these circumstances? We asked Jasmin Bobinger & Katharina Heinke, the two responsible individuals from the Interplan project team for "UPDATE21"
What is the current status of the meeting preparations?
The spaces in the Mercator Halle have been booked, as has the entire equipment needed to implement the conference on site as well as to produce the live stream. All the other personnel required for a live event have not yet been definitively hired. These are, for example, caterers, front-of-house staff and hostesses. All preparations have been made for the online service. The platform and virtual exhibition are already open.
What uncertainties still remain?
Approval for our accompanying specialist on-site exhibition has still not yet been issued. The authorities are currently assessing our submission.
Interaction between industry and physicians works best face-to-face, and the companies are keen to make use of this opportunity. If the on-site exhibition is not approved, it is difficult to imagine a congress in Duisburg. Currently, we assume that we will be permitted to hold a face-to-face event, based on the incidence values. A residual risk remains.
How are dealing with the uncertainties in specific terms?
Our communication is structured for a hybrid variant. As soon as we get the "green light" from the authorities, we will launch another marketing campaign for on-site participation. For our industry partners we are planning an exhibition in the Mercator Halle and at the same time we are keeping open alternative options for the virtual exhibition. Within our platform, we are able to expand the options for networking and direct communication. The extended presence of the virtual exhibition also boosts the attractiveness of the programme, and we have increased presence options in our 3D exhibition.
Switching" to 100 per cent virtual is also possible without further ado. In this event, we will realise a studio production for which only the speakers are personally on site. By this means, we will be able to offer the speakers an optimal setting. The inclusion of remote speakers is also technically feasible at any time. The planning milestones remain in place, even in the current dynamic situation. On this stable basis, we can be extremely flexible where this is necessary. It is helpful that we can build on the excellent cooperation with our partners. Everyone is aware of the difficulty of the current situation, and we are encountering a great deal of openness and flexibility here – this will pay off for everyone in the long run.
How do you assess the expectations of the participants?
Clearly, most participants would like to experience an UPDATE on site once again. This has been reported to us in various surveys. At the same time, the virtual variant also has certain advantages, e.g. in terms of saving time and travel costs.
What really matters when it comes to implementing a successful UPDATE event for the participants on site and online?
The event thrives on excellent, up-to-date content presented by top-class speakers. It is important to make the presentations available in the best quality on all channels. Under the current circumstances, an event that takes place on site will different from what the participants are used to experiencing. For example by means of strictly assigned seating or clear distance requirements. As much as we all enjoy being on site, it will be some time before we again find anything like the environment we have become accustomed to.
What are you doing in the project team to fulfill these aspects?
As far as content production is concerned, we and our technical partners have acquired a great deal of experience over the years. The congress will be implemented in the format of a television production. The programme structure is adapted to the requirements of both groups of participants, e.g. with appropriate break times or a digital Q&A tool that is also used on site.
What aspect of the event do you find most fascinating?
We are curious to see how the meeting with all its measures will be received on the ground, and how the participants will experience it. Essentially, we are delighted that it is being held once again and that we can finally implement a live event. This motivates and drives us on. The innovations and digital developments of the past 1.5 years have been fast and furious. Virtual congresses were a good way to bridge the gap. In the future, we see digital solutions as an enhancement, and hope to be back doing our work live and on site on a regular basis before very long.
We thank Jasmin Bobinger & Katharina Heinke for their time and behind-the-scenes insights and wish everyone involved an insightful, fascinating and enjoyable event! Live in Duisburg or online.
Latest news 23 July 2021: We have just been given the green light for a hybrid event within the meaning of the current Corona Protection Ordinance!!!!
In the final part of our Insight series, we address the question of how participants, speakers, exhibitors and our team experienced the UPDATE Haematology / Oncology Congress on 13/14 August in Duisburg and whether a meeting held with infection control measures can be enjoyable.