Some of the members responsible for organising the conference discuss the challenges of running a large-scale hybrid event and how they overcame them.
For new MCAA Vice-Chair Gledson Emidio, who played a leading role in the successful organisation, they faced a few challenges in organising the conference. "Because of the last MCAA contract transition, we started the organisation very late, which can be problematic, especially for a hybrid conference on the fringes of the COVID pandemic". Gledson highlighted that their priority was on the safety of the participants, which required different procedures and steps for each decision made. "Luckily, the conditions were much better in terms of the pandemic, allowing us to have a first-rate, safe conference." He stresses that they managed to successfully organise a safe conference thanks to a small but active team of volunteers spread around the globe.
Newly-elected MCAA Chair Fernanda Bajanca agrees with Gledson on the biggest difficulty. “Luckily, we have professionals in the organisation that work with us, because otherwise it would have been a lot more difficult. But I think that every obstacle and problem we faced came from the fact that we couldn’t start organising the conference early as usual. For example, we couldn’t contact sponsors ahead of time. But I think that in the end, it looks like it’s been quite successful.”
Gian Maria Greco sits on the Editorial and Managing Boards of the IRRADIUM magazine and the newsletter. On the one hand, he believes the mix of live and virtual complicated matters. On the other, it presented its own rewards. “It’s been a very challenging transition because it was a hybrid event. Last year, the challenges were different because it was a fully virtual event. This year, with the hybrid nature, it was obviously challenging, but also very nice because we were finally able to meet and see friends, colleagues and people with whom we share this passion for the MCAA. Last time we saw each other in person, and were this many, was before the pandemic. So, this has been challenging, precisely because of the hybrid makeup and the need to coordinate the different aspects. However, it was also very rewarding because the agenda and the programme were brilliant.”
As one of the organisers and persons in charge, Gian Maria uses the poster session as an example of the hybrid event’s benefits. “There was a live poster session, but also six parallel online poster sessions. In this way, people were able to really take advantage of the possibilities of the cloud.”
Traps were also avoided. “There was also this risk of thinking that just because it was online made it easy, you just click and everyone can attend, it’s free, and so on,” says Gian Maria. “You need to have the infrastructure in place where you live, and we needed to be aware of this.”
Fernanda doesn’t want to rest on their laurels. She’s looking ahead to 2023. “We have already started asking around our different chapter chairs who would be available to host the next conference. So, usually what we do is get a chapter, let’s say, responsible on site, but then there is a whole structure behind it. There is a chapter that builds an initial proposal, and then we select the winning bid and take it from there.”
“I think what was special about this year’s conference was the fact that in the last two years there was no conference, so this was a new way of online conferencing,” says Esther Hegel. “This is the first hybrid event since 2019 – Vienna – so there were different and new challenges in organising it. As always, there were pressing time constraints, and I was very happy that Gledson took the lead on basically all aspects and really pushed this forward. It was a very professionally organised hybrid event that ran smoothly. I see it as a big success.”
Esther considers the event somewhat of a best practice. “I hope notes were taken so we can repeat it in the same way next year.”
MCAA Editorial Team