Digital events - a best case

2020 was undoubtedly a challenging year in the congress sector. The Munich-based congress agency Interplan Congress Meeting & Event Management AG accepted the challenge and turned dreams of the future into daily business.

In spring 2020 the event industry literally flipped a switch. The Corona pandemic not only affected face-to-face collaboration, but also demanded a fundamental re-creation of events in the digital space.

At the beginning it was particularly important for Interplan to create an effective basis for efficient decentralised working, where teamwork could continue despite physical distance. This was followed by intensive market research and an examination of technical solutions and providers that reflected the "new" needs of the customers. At the same time, Interplan expanded its network and can now look back on 22 successful digital congresses of various kinds.


FOBI 2020 digital

The training week for practical dermatology and venereology has been held every two years in Munich since 2010 and has also been organised by Interplan since then. The event was to take place again in 2020 but could not be held as usual due to political regulations. Interplan created several budget scenarios, examined possible cancellation fees, created different concepts, and spoke with possible service providers in order to finally have the first digital training week and a completely new congress experience take place in July 2020.

With over 2,500 participants, a total of 467 lectures, 105 sessions with up to 14 strands in parallel, 11 plenary sessions, 44 courses and workshops, and 43 industry sessions, the event was the largest held in Munich to date. The congress was broadcast live from the studio at Klinikum München.

The 220 speakers had the opportunity to record their lectures in advance or to give them live. These were broadcast according to the programme and made available afterwards "on demand" for six months for all participants. The industry was represented by various industry sessions in the programme and additionally in four exhibition halls with 43 virtual booths with various interaction possibilities.

1,054 visitors attended a plenary session at the same time and 2,071 visitors attended parallel sessions. In addition, over 5,000 visitors were welcomed virtually at the industrial exhibition with up to 1,000 people at one stand.

Video: FOBI 2020

Conclusion from Interplan

Converting a live congress into an online format at short notice was very time-consuming and the selection of and cooperation with the appropriate service providers had a strong influence on the good quality of the event. The focus of the event was on the scientific content. Despite the smooth running and the possibility of making event formats even more flexible and accessible to several participants in the future, all participants agreed that the interpersonal component of events cannot be dispensed with in the long run.

Thus, the next FOBI, in 2022, will again take place live to enable direct exchange with colleagues and industry representatives. In order to be able to address an even larger audience, a hybrid event format is currently being considered. It would be conceivable to organise a live congress with a regulated number of participants and to broadcast selected lectures via an online platform. Virtual rooms could offer additional opportunities for attendance - an "on-demand e-learning platform" could also provide the opportunity to offer further webinars with the congress content.

About Interplan:
Interplan has been organising national and international events with a focus on medicine and science since 1969. With over 120 employees in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig, Interplan is now one of the leading congress agencies in Europe as well as in German-speaking countries.

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February 2021


Photo: Jörg Lutz; Video: Interplan


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