XVI. Congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE)
Every three years, the EAAE holds a congress that brings news from the world of agricultural economics. The congress is regularly attended by 700–800 participants–practitioners, students and scientists from the food and agricultural industry.
In 2020, the original date was moved to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The congress was supposed to take place physically on the premises of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague but, in spring, the client decided to change the format of the event, therefore our assignment was to organise a five-day event in a virtual form.
With a few weeks left before the beginning of the event, we began to actively address the type of virtual platform that would be the best for the congress. Based on the analysis of the needs of the event, we decided to use a combination of three types of platforms. The congress was held on the gCon platform. We have already had experience with the platform and provided our participants and speakers with everything they needed to communicate the information and interact with each other. We used the Webex and Zoom platforms for the pre-symposia.
In order to keep the scope of the planned congress, we created 11 virtual halls where lectures, workshops and plenary sessions took place. The opening and closing ceremonies were broadcast live from the virtual studio.
Because of moving to a virtual environment, it was necessary to address the traditional exhibition of partners and sponsors. They were offered sponsorship space on the platform where participants could meet with company representatives and actively chat.
Compared to the classic form of the event, the virtual congress attracted more participants. The congress was attended by a total of 845 participants (57% men, 43% women) from 51 countries. The largest numbers of participants came from Germany, Italy, France and the Czech Republic.
The EAAE Virtual Congress received positive feedback. The visitors appreciated the interactive features and the possibility to watch again the pre-recorded lectures after the congress.