We have decided to publish the report of our first multiplier event for our ERASMUS project Hotel Academy, originally planned to take place at the premises of EUC in Nicosia, Cyprus. Unfortunately, the situation of COVID-19 as well as the consequent series of measures in many countries necessitated for the event to be transformed from physical into online.
The purpose of the event was to introduce the project and its nature, to present the first results, but also, given the current crisis, to analyse the project’s significance and application during and post COVID-19 period.
You will find below a series of recommendations that we would like to share if you are planning to organise an online event, according to our own recent experience, its weaknesses and strengths:
Duration of the online event
The event was planned from 10am to 16pm, with several breaks (coffee / lunch).
According to the responses and the overall feeling from the event, an important weakness was its duration as many people felt that it was very tiring to watch a monitor for so many hours. Of course, when the schedule of the event was planned there were still considerations for a physical format, something that unfortunately did not happen. Therefore, a first implication and suggestion for the future is either to hold a shorter event in one day or (even better) organise a two-day event with less hours in every day’s schedule.
Training the speakers
The event was organised with Microsoft TEAMS sharing the link to reach virtual conference space.
Another obvious weakness was the technical problems related to the technology.
Many of us are familiar with the use of the platform for daily team meetings. Yet, the use of the platform for such large event imposes particular constraints and we anticipated the need for speakers to get familiar to the interface and allow smooth progression during the program. To this end, we planned some rehearsal sessions prior to the event. This allowed to practice activation of webcam and screensharing, as well as to prepare, share an implement a common background picture for the project partners and speakers to be identified among other participants.
Despite this training, we encountered some technical issues during the event. For instance, there was no sound from the video contents we wanted to display and thus there was a need to repeat them after the problem was fixed. It was due to the need to properly set the application, which was not identified during the rehearsal.
In the same line, the recording of the event was not feasible by the used software, due to evolution for regulation constraint (GDPR). In addition, a bug in chat did not allow for participants to express their written questions, and they should ask them verbally, which significantly refrain their participation, even in the workshop small groups.
These matters need more attention during the upcoming events since it appears that they affected the overall derived experience. Another recommendation is to organise a series of meetings where explanation regarding the use of technology in the formulation and implementation of meetings needs to be managed prior to their organisation.
Managing the participants
We asked the participants to register using EventBrite platform. We could collect information from the participants and send them information about the event, such as sending the links to join the virtual meeting rooms. Yet, it was difficult to monitor the actual participants to the event and TEAMS did not allow for precise recording. We had to look at the participant list live during the event and note each new participant that joined the room, possibly using a pseudonym. Then, using the information we had from the registration, we could match most users that joined TEAMS with the registered users via EventBrite. This was done manually.
Furthermore, we estimate that the list of participants that has been established may not be exhaustive as we have noticed, in some other use of the platform, that it happens that some users do not appear in the meeting logs, although they attend the online session. This is particularly important regarding the reporting matter of the project.
Variety of attendants
Regarding the strengths, the views of the participants and organisers are positive. If the technical weaknesses are excluded, overall, the event was successful. This can also be seen by the participation rate as well as the results of the survey. Participants from various backgrounds joined: professional from the field of hospitality and tourism but also education, students and digital industry representatives. And participants from 7 different countries joined: 55% from Cyprus and 45% foreign participants from France, Germany, Italy, UK, Greece and even India.
Probably, the stronger part of the event is the generation and communication of new knowledge regarding tourism and hospitality management in the post-COVID period. One of the outcomes of the event is that technology and digital tools are more than ever before necessary in education and training within the industries.
Overall, the international character of the event with the exchange of different views as well as its multicultural character appeared to be an asset of the event. This needs to be projected in the upcoming meetings.
If you would like to read the full report, you can download it here. Also, you can see here the summary of our multiplier event with the detail of presentations and speakers. And you, how do you organise your ERASMUS multiplier events?