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The International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory Association (IPCAA) and Ashfield Meetings & Events recently released a report on the rise of virtual events in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic. The interesting outcome: despite initial hesitance, no less than 92% of Health Care Professionals consider virtual events where they would not have attended the event in the past.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many event organisers across the globe to quickly shift to the digital world, and many did. The report, published in partnership with Ashfield Meeting and Events, is based on interviews with 300+ HCPs from all parts of the world. It shows that 38% of the HCPs think their congress attendance patterns will move towards an equal balance of physical and virtual. The reasons are clear: the convenience of watching an event at any place and time, while still feeling a need to network with peers from time to time.

Virtual events expand network

Interestingly, 92% of HCPs do consider virtual where they would not attend the event in the past – and this is backed up by attendance rates of events that were held in 2020. The American Physical Society (APS) witnessed a four-fold increase in the number of registrations, and the European Hematology Association (EHA), which typically attracts 12,000 attendees, issued over 26,000 access codes for virtual attendance. ‘This result is very interesting’, says Rico Hoeboer, Business Development Manager at Online Seminar. ‘It shows that a virtual event reaches far more professionals, people who were not attending in the past. This way, the virtual event expands the network of the organising party.’

Few technical issues

Rico was also interested to see that most of the HCPs did not find technical issues when attending a virtual event. Despite the almost instant flip from physical to virtual events, 89% experienced no technical issues and 92% found it ‘very’ to ‘somewhat easy’ to find the content they were looking for once they entered the platform. ‘It is good to see that technology is no hindrance to join these events. In fact, the report shows that over half of the attendees actively participated during the online event, such as in a Q&A or polling. No less than 78% watched the event live, at least partially, and 62% watched on demand as well.’

Hybrid events are the future

The report concludes that ‘the value appears to be in offering attendees an option – that hybrid solution’. That conclusion comes as no surprise to Rico. ‘Of course, a virtual event has its limitations. In particular, networking is something that is missed. On the other hand, a virtual event saves travel time and costs, and provides HCPs with the option to watch it whenever it suits them. Just as IPCAA, we expect that hybrid will be the future: physical events on location, combined with a virtual representation, live and on demand. The mix provides clients with the best value, because it gives them the opportunity to choose whatever suits them best.’

Read the original report ‘HCP Experiences of Virtual Congress‘ at the website of Ashfield Meetings & Events.

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