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Meet European Forum Alpbach, an international socio-political forum that went virtual for the first time in its 75 year history using Hopin

Meet European Forum Alpbach, an international socio-political forum that went virtual for the first time in its 75 year history using Hopin
PLANNING A NEW KIND OF EVENT

Gathering Current and Future World Leaders

The European Forum Alpbach has been running since 1945 and blends the worlds of arts and culture, business, politics, and science with the goal of addressing the most relevant socio-political questions of our time.

The key aim of the forum is to encourage dialogue. It’s crucial to bridging generational and ideological differences between current world leaders and the leaders of tomorrow. So when the pandemic struck and Alpbach had to pivot from a physical to virtual event for its 75th year, the choice of platform was a critical one for organizers.

The team at Alpbach analyzed and benchmarked various event platforms to host a hybrid forum on during the pandemic, eventually settling on Hopin due to the connectivity of the platform.

“After a long benchmark and analysis we decided that Hopin was the most holistic tool that would allow us to keep a feeling of community alive online as well” - Marina Bartoletti.

The main challenge for Alpbach 2020: How to transition to hybrid while maintaining the feeling of community and discussion guests get when they visit the Alps each year.

Using Hopin, Marina and the Alpbach team rose to this challenge, throwing a successful hybrid forum with over 4,000 online participants.

PLANNING A NEW KIND OF EVENT

"This really was the biggest challenge - trying to recreate this feeling of meeting during coffee breaks while going on a hike up the mountain and discussing the most pressing challenges of our times. And I think we managed quite well with Hopin."

Marina Bartoletti.
Event Coordinator.
IT’S SHOWTIME

A Hybrid Approach Offers New Opportunities

For Alpbach, showtime isn’t confined to a single day, it’s a three week sprint. The forum takes place annually in August, runs for three weeks, and mixes in panel discussions, breakout sessions, plenaries and interactive live formats.

During the forum, the Alpbach team were juggling sponsors, guests (across the age spectrum and around the world), and their team of distributed organizers. Each of these audiences needed the right tools to fully engage with Alpbach.

When it came to their sponsors, Alpbach provided personalized booths in what they called the 'lounge area'. Sponsors were able to host their own sessions, invite in speakers, and curate their own content for attendees.

Alpbach’s hybrid approach to building an agenda also presented new opportunities. Alongside the forum's flagship speakers like Austria's Federal President, Alexander Van der Bellen, and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, Alpbach alumni organized their own parts of the forum's program from 20 international hubs.

This content then streamed live from these international hubs into stages on Hopin as part of the main forum. Overall, 80 sessions were hosted across 20 international hubs, all coordinated by Alpbach alumni aged 18-35.

Finally, Alpbach made full use of Hopin's networking features, throwing daily networking sessions at lunch to encourage community discussion and connections. They even themed some networking sessions to highlight certain projects, like the newly founded Africa Alpbach Network.

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The Tools Alpbach Used for Hybrid Success

The Alpbach team used a range of different features to throw a successful hybrid event on Hopin:

  • Customizability- The customizability of Hopin allowed the team to create immersive virtual spaces reminiscent of their unique physical venue in the Alps.
  • Virtual Sponsor Booths - Alpbach sponsors were able to gain greater visibility among guests and better leverage their content than in a typical exhibit booth at a physical event.
  • Multistage + Sessions - By running multiple stages and hosting hundreds of virtual Sessions, Alpbach could pack its hybrid agenda with incredible content from speakers around the globe.
  • Reporting + Analytics - From questions asked in Session chats to virtual business cards exchanged, Hopin provided Alpbach with the tools to track and analyze attendee engagement.
  • Interactivity + Networking - By providing attendees multiple ways to engage with both speakers and each other throughout the forum, Alpbach retained the community feel of the forum.

"We were really positively surprised when we saw that yes, people were willing to stay online for over two weeks and engage directly in the sessions, participate, ask questions, interact with other attendees and with speakers."

Marina Bartoletti.
Event Coordinator.
HOW IT TURNED OUT

A More Democratic and Accessible Forum

Having transitioned to a primarily digital event for the first time in their 75 year history, Alpbach were relieved to see a brilliant reception to the forum across all key stakeholders.

By analyzing engagement metrics like session visits, poll participation and chat contributions, Marina and the team could see that attendees remained engaged throughout Alpbach 2020, despite the main forum running for over two weeks.

They even saw some wonderful unplanned grassroots activity from attendees, as the Alpbach network created shared Google Docs summarizing speakers and sessions for those who couldn't attend.

Another benefit the Alpbach team noticed was that the improved accessibility of a hybrid forum resulted in a younger audience. Attendees that wouldn't usually be able to afford a trip to Austria could participate virtually, allowing for bridges to be built between parties that wouldn't otherwise meet.

Given the core aim of European Forum Alpbach is to promote intergenerational and interideological discussion, this has convinced Alpbach to go hybrid for future forums.

“We [European Forum Alpbach 2021] are going to be the biggest hybrid conference of its kind in Austria. Part of it will be broadcast on national television and we will be hosting a multitude of analog, hybrid and also completely digital sessions” - Marina Bartoletti.

4,000+

Online participants

2,000+

Networking connections

300+

Speakers

100+

Countries represented

"We noticed that we had some participants who might not necessarily want to, or be able to, afford a plane ticket to another continent, but this way they still had a chance to take part in the conference."

Marina Bartoletti.
Event Coordinator.

Lots of virtual audience buzz

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