8th EUGEO Congress on the Geography of Europe
Every two years, the Association of European Geographical Societies holds a EUGEO congress which is regularly visited by geographers and students of geography from around the world.
In the spring of 2021, when it became clear that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it would not be possible to hold a live event for all participants as it was originally planned, the Association decided to organize a hybrid event.
After the final decision, we had one month to plan the new form of the event. The objective was to come up with a hybrid format of the event with virtual elements that would be just as dynamic and interactive as during personal interactions so that all the participants could derive the same positive experience of the Congress.
The physical part of the Congress took place in the premises of the Faculty of Science of the Charles University in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures. For the virtual part, the gCon platform was used that met all the requirements for the Congress.
Preparation of speakers
In addition to the participants, the hybrid form also impacted the speakers. While half of them could arrive in Prague, due to the restrictions, the rest had to connect to the Congress virtually. A technician was ready to assist all online speakers before the opening of the Congress to familiarize them with the platform and to pre-record their presentations or to test the live streaming.
To be able to combine both ways of connecting the speakers, we needed to significantly increase the scope of technical equipment. Speakers at the venue were streamed on the online platform while those who were connected remotely from their home countries were projected through a virtual platform on big screens for the participants at the venue. This solution allowed the entire event to take place live.
Interaction and networking
Although it may seem difficult to connect two audiences located miles away, it may not be the case with the right instruments. The gCon platform has several interactive features that offer networking between physically present and online participants. Q&A and chat features were used at the Congress.
As regards marketing, a simple and quick solution was brought forward. The marketing strategy included posts on the social media, in particular on Twitter, mailings, banner placements and advertisements on the website of the EUGEO Association.
The event was attended by 357 participants – 113 physically and virtually 244 from 34 countries. The largest numbers of participants came from Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary and France.
The participants in the event highlighted the technical excellence of the event. For many of them, it was the first hybrid event ever.
The Czech Convention Bureau under the CzechTourism agency provided support to the Congress.