National scientific conference forced to go virtual during Melbourne’s snap lockdown

The Australian Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) annual scientific conference has been forced to quickly transition to a fully virtual event as a result of Victoria’s growing COVID outbreak and the snap lockdown.

ASM’s Annual National Scientific Meeting and Trade Exhibition (ASM 2021) brings together leading microbiologists, including over 580 delegates, from Australia and around the world to present their latest research findings.

ASM 2021 was originally planned as a hybrid event from May 31 to June 3 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

But the Victorian Government’s sudden statewide lockdown forced the ASM 2021 Conference to move to a fully virtual event within a matter of days.

“The recent lockdown and uncertainty in Victoria has highlighted the importance of contingency planning and the benefits of hybrid event delivery for scientific conferences,” said Professor Dena Lyras, president of The Australian Society for Microbiology.

“For our four day conference, we opted for a hybrid event delivery as it allowed us to reach a larger audience but importantly ensured we had the ability to easily convert our conference to a virtual event in the face of any sudden lockdown.”

PCO company ASN Events has partnered with The Australian Society for Microbiology for over 10 years.

“Despite our clients desire to aim for as much in-person delivery as possible, we have always recommended a hybrid setup,” said Tim Hancock, ASN Events executive director.

“It is important to select an event technology provider that has the capability to seamlessly transition from hybrid to purely virtual as it is a significant logistical shift.

“We have worked closely with Delegate Connect to convert the event to online-only delivery in a matter of days and the ability to do this, while exceeding the expectations of our clients, is why the conference will still be a great success.”

Hannah Cusack, chief operating officer at event technology company Delegate Connect, said hybrid events will continue to play an ever important role as the events industry recovers post COVID.

“The surprise lockdown highlights the continued uncertainty that event organisers face,” Cusack said.

“We still have some time to go before we return to normality with venues not yet permitted to operate at full capacity and COVID lockdowns still an ever present reality. A hybrid focus is the perfect safety net for organisers to pivot to virtual at short notice.”