European Congress of Radiology 2021: a case study of embracing virtual event innovation in Vienna

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European Congress of Radiology 2021: a case study of embracing virtual event innovation in Vienna

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR) is one of Europe’s largest congress events and the second biggest medical imaging meeting worldwide. It is usually held annually in Vienna, but in 2021 it was a virtual-only event (3-7 March). Organisers elevated it, however, through multifaceted, state-of-the-art streaming, a huge technological operation and delivering truly novel and interactive content, connecting more than 15,000 participants across the globe. ECR 2021 innovations could be said to have set a new standard for medical meetings worldwide.

The broadcast offering saw five simultaneous channels streamed on the in-house ‘ESR Connect’ platform. Vienna’s Palais Hansen Kempinski provided the HQ for this technological effort, housing the live studio which set the stage for much of the interactive additions to ECR 2021.

A new ‘Pop-Up World Tour’ transformed Vienna into a global interface for delegates, showcasing sessions from across the world and expanding the reach of ECR 2021. Gamification elements were introduced for the first time, to increase active involvement. Play@ECR offered guests the chance to win daily prizes at exhibitor stands and helped maintain increased awareness during the Virtual Exhibition. It also encouraged the desired outcome of further networking.

There was also an ‘In-Focus’ wellness programme, which provided interdisciplinary presentations on resilience, mindfulness and stress, as well as interactive Yoga, Qigong and Aikido classes – all part of a plan to place greater emphasis than ever before on the physical and mental wellbeing of participants.

Although ECR 2021 was staged as a fully virtual event, organisers enacted a bespoke plan to ensure the safety of all operational staff and speakers behind the production.

Christian Woronka, director of the Vienna Convention Bureau, believes this year’s ECR has shown that Meeting Destination Vienna is setting trends in the global meetings industry even in challenging times. “Through its innovative implementation, the ECR has set new standards for online medical meetings, while at the same time Vienna’s international appeal as a meeting metropolis has been strengthened,” he said.

ECR 2021 in numbers:

  • 15,783 total attendees, including 14,776 professional attendees and 962 industry representatives
  • 131,803 session and on demand event attendees
  • 2,000 individual presentations and more than 1,400 electronic poster presentations
  • 2,421 speakers showcased

Looking forward, towards the planned Hybrid ECR Summer Edition 2021 and 2022, Woronka commented: “We were delighted that approximately 15,000 participants attended the virtual edition of the radiology congress, but we are even more looking forward to the next physical ECR meeting in Vienna”.

Following the success and innovative implementation of ECR 2021 as an online event, if coronavirus permits, a hybrid ECR Summer Edition will take place in Vienna, 1-3 July 2021, with the ECR planning to return to the Austria Center Vienna for a physical event in 2022.

More information about Meeting Destination Vienna can be found here

For more information on ECR 2021 please visit here: and you can watch the case study video here:

Photo: ECR 2021 Back Office by Marina Knittel

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World. Write Paul an E-mail

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