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Cankarjev dom is a professional congress organizer and one of the pillars of Slovenia’s meetings industry. At a time when measures adopted to contain the Coronavirus spread are severely limiting face-to-face events, we are conducting our business in the virtual domain – online.
In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we offered our clients wishing to organize events and meetings a solution of hybrid events (Cankarjev dom was one of the pioneers of this practice, we implemented CD’s cultural projects, including the Ljubljana Jazz Festival, as hybrid events as early as in June). Wonderfully complemented by a small number of live attendees, the online video transmission of the event to a selected platform reached its target audience. And just when we thought the situation would improve, the current restrictive measures and consideration for the safety of our participants have compelled us to wholly switch to the digital environment. Meetings that are the catalysts for new ideas and knowledge transfer must not be brought to a standstill or postponed. They have to take place now.
This has been made possible by OnAir, a platform provided by EventsAIR that has been developing event management technology and software for more than 30 years and is Cankarjev dom’s professional software partner. Cankarjev dom obtained an international certificate of virtual event management and successfully protocoled the first meetings.
Via the OnAir platform, CD is able to organize any event in the way that it would take place live at a real-life venue, with the difference that attendees can take part in the event from their homes or offices. This tool allows us to organize a meeting comprehensively – from plenary sessions, sections, exhibitions, networking during breaks; conducting surveys and measuring the satisfaction of participants; holding meetings during which the interested parties are connected directly via video, enable dialogue between participants, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers who answer the participants’ questions. It is possible to visit a scientific exhibition, attend a poster presentation and engage in a discussion with the author, or choose some other activity on the conference’s programme. The platform enables us to organize turn-key congresses, including online registration and applications and processing of speakers’ abstracts. OnAir is an excellent tool for both event management as well as communication with and handling of speakers.
On this platform, we implemented the 8th Slovenian Microbiological Society Congress held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To objectively evaluate the platform and the Congress implementation, a survey was conducted among participants and organizers. The scientific committee was impressed by the possibility of setting up the Congress’ virtual platform at such short notice (the decision to realize the event online was taken on 7 August), of keeping their sponsors and even increasing the number of delegates, which amounted to 291. They were also impressed by how easy it was to use the program. The speakers experienced no problems with the platform either, as Cankarjev dom provided them with expert guidance, implemented the testing, and offered technical assistance throughout. We received considerable praise from the participants (95%), and the vast majority expressed their support for practising this hybrid congress format also in future. The possibility of materials (recordings of lectures) being available to the participants in optimum time, as well as after the congress has concluded, was considered the greatest advantage of this kind of meetings.