Content is still the king
Content can make a great difference in attendance. It sets the tone for the entire experience and should be carefully crafted to ensure it meets both the organisational goals and those of the attendees. When planning a conference, one should consider what topics to cover, who will present them, and how to structure the sessions and create engaging activities.
For example, the 18th EUCARPIA Meeting on Genetics and Breeding of Capsicum and Eggplant, Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 2023, is planned and organized by Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute (MVCRI) in collaboration with the Center of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology (CPSBB), both engaged in research on pepper and other Solanaceous crops. The region of Plovdiv, so-called Thracia valley, is known for its long-lasting traditions in growing peppers and creation of unique local forms. The conference will be performed as on-site event, as the hosts believe this is the most efficient way for interaction and exchange of knowledge and ideas. The meeting will offer rich scientific programme, defining the latest achievments and inventions in the field, inspirational keynotes and plentiful networking opportunities.
This is a good example how investing time into crafting quality content for a conference, can also help to foster a sense of community and connection between attendees. Content is the backbone of any meeting and should not be overlooked when planning an event.
If the content is to be taken one step further, pre- or post-conference activities could be offered such as webinars, virtual panels, or training sessions. This will help make the event more accessible to those who may not be able to attend the physical event due to geographic constraints or personal commitments. Additionally, it is a great way to engage with a broader audience – these are potentially future attendees.
In 2023 the Bulgarian Association of Cardiovascular Imaging is planning two important scientific events – Sofia Days of Echocardiography, 24 – 25 March 2023 and the World Congress of Echocardiography, 28 September – 1 October 2023. The first event is an annual national conference, which outlines the development and latest innovations of echocardiography in Bulgaria, with key presentations from eminent European specialists. The other event is of a larger scale and it provides a worldwide update and address cutting edge topics and innovations from basics to advanced echocardiography through plenary sessions, workshops, symposia, debates and oral presentations. The focus is on interesting case studies to illustrate different concepts and recent advances. An opportunity is provided to participate in faculty led hands-on sessions. In parallel with these events, the Bulgarian Association of Cardiovascular Imaging has planned a series of workshops, free online courses and training sessions in 2023, to enhance and support the up-to-date knowledge of the professional community http://fcibg.com .
The quality of the speakers is of great importance. To ensure that speakers deliver excellent presentations, it is best to choose experienced professionals with proven public speaking or moderating skills. It is best to include a variety of topics from different areas within the industry in order to provide an insightful journey into the latest developments in the field for the attendees.
The 11th Bulgarian Bifurcation and Complex Coronary Interventions Course, 27-29 January 2023 was hold as a hybrid event. But more participants chose to join on-site as in-person events remain standard fare for medical scientists. Traditionally, about 120 Bulgarian and foreign delegates were present. Three sessions were included within the scientific program – epidemiology, pathoanatomy and pathophysiology of calcium, imaging modalities for visualization of the distribution of calcium in coronary, and, of course, development and recent treatment options. As per tradition, exceptional faculty were invited. They retracted the main topic issues through the prism of their broad experience and deepened delegates’ knowledge on detecting methods and proper treatment of coronary calcified lesions. The participants enjoyed live-cases and case-based presentations of the eminent speakers and discussed the details with the best experts in the cozy atmosphere of the course.
Using multimedia or interactive components such as live-cases during talks, can help increase engagement levels among participants. Finally, panel discussions that allow smaller groups to engage with speakers on more specific topics could be introduced.
Marketing: driving registrations for the next event
Attracting a captive audience is the key to success, when planning a conference. Today, professionals are facing diverse challenges in getting people to register for their events. As much as people are eager to improve themselves and meet other professionals, they are more attentive to evaluating whether attending a conference or event is worth the travel and costs.
Event organizers play a critical role in driving registrations for events. They have the knowledge and resources to promote events on various channels and target potential attendees effectively. Organizers can use tools like targeting specific audiences, creating informative content to generate interest in the event, and optimising campaigns for maximum visibility. They can also help to create an engaging experience by using interactive features such as live streaming and VR experiences.
Therefore, it is essential to work with an experienced professional who truly understands the aims of both target audiences and organizers of the event and can create efficient campaigns that drive registrations.
The National Congress of Veterinary Dermatology started in 2017 as e niche event, organized by the Bulgarian Association of Veterinary Dermathology. The event offers specific scientific information, which could be useful in vets’ every-day-practice. Tradidionally, about 100 vets are present. This year event, the V National Congress of Veterinary Dermatology, aims at gathering much more participants, due to a number of marketing activities – ads, facebook posts and direct mailing to targeted audiences. Thiscan help the event not only to reach more of its targeted participants, but also to increase the event’s influence and value by supporting the professional competence and sense of belonging of the veterinary community.
Sustainability: conferences that leave a lasting impression
The meetings and events industry is increasingly aware of the need to be sustainable. Companies are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact while still providing participants with a memorable experience. Sustainability, in fact, has become an integral part of event planning, from venue selection and catering to transportation and waste management.
Regarding conferences, taking sustainable practices into account during the planning process can effectively minimise the event’s carbon footprint while also reducing costs and increasing people’s satisfaction.
Sustainability practices can be implemented in multiple areas of a conference, such as reducing the environmental impact of travel and accommodation by encouraging delegates to stay for the duration of the event and use public transportation instead of flying or driving.
A good example of sustainable conference planning is the venue of the ICPSBB 2023 – a conference, organized by the Center of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology (CPSBB), Plovdiv. CPSBB is a new plant institute with the aim to perform world class fundamental and applied research in the fields of plant systems biology and biotechnology. The new research complex of CPSBB is awarded the prise “Building of the year 2022” in Bulgaria. Logically, it is chosen for the II International Conference of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology, wich attracts over 150 participants from universities, research institutes and biotechnology companies. The building itself is biotic and sustainable. Furthermore, it is the best possible venue, as all scientific departments of ICPSBB use world-class technology and methods. The researchers in the center have already produced scientific breakthroughs with potential applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.
The venue could also be chosen based on its sustainability credentials, such as higher efficiency in energy usage or providing locally sourced food options. Additionally, materials for registration, signage and promotional items could be made from recycled materials or distributed digitally.
In terms of engaging conference attendees with sustainability initiatives, awareness might be raised through various channels such as pre-event emails, social media campaigns, and even session content during the event itself. Furthermore, providing educational opportunities throughout the event for delegates to learn more about sustainability and how it is applied in their specific industry can significantly increase commitment and engagement with sustainable practices.
By planning ahead and considering sustainability in all areas of the event, one can provide a great experience while also leaving a lasting positive impact on the world.
A conference programme that engages and inspires
When planning a conference, it is essential to carefully consider the agenda and any accompanying collateral programme. While the schedule allows attendees to engage meaningfully with the content, it should also ensure ample opportunities for breaks and social interactions throughout the day.
For a successful event, one should strive to create an atmosphere that encourages socialisation and collaboration. This could include activities such as roundtable discussions or breakout sessions for attendees to share their insights and ideas. Providing time for discussions at the end of each session helps foster relationships and assist delegates in building new networks which could prove invaluable in the future.
The International Conference on Natural Products Utilization: from Plants to Pharmacy Shelf – ICNPU is a traditional event, which has its 5th edition in 2023. The conference gathers more than 300 participants from 50 different conturies in the fields of (ethno)botany, conservation and sustainable uses of natural resources, herbal medicine, medicinal chemistry, metabolomics, molecular biology and genetic engineering, (ethno)pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, plant biotechnology, systems biology, and toxicology. The carefully designed program includes several scientific and poster sessions and a preconference workshop, as well as get-together party, coffee-breaks, viewing the beach and a gala-dinner. Part of the partcipants’experience are the conferene tour to Balchik and Kaliakra and an excursion to Nessebar for the accompanying persons.
Additionally, providing quality catering options is critical in making the conference experience memorable. Quality food can add to the feeling of hospitality, while exciting entertainment elements – such as live music – makes connecting easier for people.
Finally, it is important to be mindful of time and experiences that can foster strong connections between attendees while also creating lasting memories. So, carefully balanced agendas with memorable activities, can create an event that people won’t forget anytime soon.
Such an agenda is forseen for the participants in VarnaEcho11 Conference, 13-14 October 2023. This event with over 20 years’ tradition gathers again echocardiographists from all over the country for an unforgettable two days of shared knowledge, expertise, friendship and social and culinary temptations. And all this – offered with grace and style in International Hotel at the Black Sea coast.
Technology and conferences: a lasting marriage
The marriage between technology and conferences has grown stronger ever since the concept of hybrid events became a reality. With hybrid events, the entire world can join in on a meeting, regardless of where they are located. This opens up many opportunities for organisers to reach larger audiences and give their attendees the ability to join from anywhere.
However, there is still a place for traditional events and conferences. Organizers can choose to stick with live events or combine the two together to create an even more compelling experience. Traditional events allow for building relationships in person, network face-to-face and enable attendees to connect with people on a deeper level. On the other hand, technology provides many different tools to engage audiences remotely, such as interactive polls, slideshows, and live streaming capabilities.
Hybrid events bring together the best of both worlds: they combine the benefits of traditional conferences with those of digital technologies. They allow organizers to reach a wide range of audiences without having them attend an event physically. At the same time, they can reconcile personal connections and meaningful conversations.
The XI National Congress of Interventional Cardiology, 9-12 November 2023 is planned as a hybrid event. It offers to participants, both in the halls of Grand Hotel Millennium and online, dynamic and intriguing program, including scinetific sessions, trainings, debates and discussions, poster and nursing sessions, exhibitions, and last but not least – live-cases from several operating rooms in leading hospitals in Sofia.
Therefore, finding the right balance between technology and traditional conferences becomes fundamental to creating a successful event that meets all parties’ needs.
If you are looking for support in planning a conference in 2023 or beyond, the CME team is ready to help – together we can create a valuable and unforgettable event!