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

European Forum Alpbach has been running since 1945 and blends the worlds of art, culture, business, politics, and science to address the most relevant socio-political questions of our time.

The key aim of the forum is to encourage dialogue to bridge generational and ideological differences among current world leaders and the leaders of tomorrow. When the pandemic set in, the forum had to pivot from a physical to virtual experience – for the first time in 75 years.

Senior Event Coordinator, Marina Bartoletti, analyzed dozens of event platforms for the first virtual edition of the forum. She eventually settled on Hopin due to its connectivity.

“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, Senior Event Coordinator, European Forum Alpbach

The big challenge for Alpbach 2020 was transitioning to virtual while maintaining the engaging discussion and feeling of community guests had come to expect in the Alps each year.

Using Hopin, Marina and the European Forum Alpbach team rose to this challenge, hosting a successful virtual forum with more than 4,000 online participants.

3 event speakers seating on stage smiling and talking
3 event speakers seating on stage smiling and talking

"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
Senior Event Coordinator, European Forum Alpbach
IT’S SHOWTIME

A virtual approach offers new opportunities

For European Forum Alpbach, showtime isn't confined to a single day. The forum takes place annually in August and runs for three weeks, mixing panel discussions, breakout sessions, plenaries, and interactive live formats.

During the event, the European Forum Alpbach team juggled sponsors, guests from around the world,  and a team of distributed organizers. Each audience needed the right tools in order to fully engage with the event.

When it came to their sponsors, the European Forum Alpbach team provided personalized booths in the virtual lounge area. Sponsors could host their sessions, invite speakers, and curate content for attendees.

European Forum Alpbach's virtual approach also presented the opportunity to extend the event’s reach. Alongside the forum's flagship speakers like Austria's Federal President, Alexander Van der Bellen, and the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, European Forum Alpbach alumni organized additional programming.

The alumni created and coordinated content that was streamed live from locations around the world into stages on Hopin as part of the main forum. The alumni team hosted 80 sessions from 20 international hubs.

Finally, European Forum Alpbach made full use of Hopin's networking features, with daily lunchtime networking sessions to encourage discussion and connection. The team even created themes for some of the networking sessions to highlight specific projects, like the newly founded Africa Alpbach Network.

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The tools Alpbach used for virtual success

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

  • Customization: Hopin's flexibility allowed the team to create immersive virtual spaces reminiscent of their unique physical venue in the Alps.
  • Expo booths: European Forum Alpbach sponsors had more opportunities to connect with and deliver content to guests than they typically do in exhibit booths at physical events.
  • Stages and Sessions: By running multiple stages and hosting hundreds of virtual sessions, European Forum Alpbach packed its virtual agenda with great content from speakers around the world.
  • Reporting and analytics: Hopin provided Alpbach with the tools to track and analyze attendee engagement across interactions like questions in Session chats and exchanging virtual business cards.
  • Interactivity and Networking: By providing multiple ways for attendees to engage with speakers and one another, 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
Senior Event Coordinator, European Forum Alpbach
HOW IT TURNED OUT

A more democratic and accessible forum

After transitioning to a primarily virtual event for the first time in 75 years, European Forum Alpbach was relieved to see a positive 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 the main forum’s two-week run.

They even saw some unplanned grassroots activity from attendees, with the European Forum Alpbach network creating and sharing documents that summarized speeches and sessions for those who couldn't attend.

The Alpbach team also noticed a marked improvement in accessibility. The hybrid format attracted a broad audience that spanned a wide range of ages. , In addition, attendees who couldn’t afford a trip to Austria could participate virtually. The expanded attendee base helped build bridges and drive connections among people who might not have met outside the event.  

The core goal of European Forum Alpbach is to promote intergenerational and interideological discussion – and adding a virtual component to the event helped the Alpbach team better meet that goal. So, they decided to go hybrid in 2021.

"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 virtual sessions." – Marina Bartoletti, Senior Event Coordinator, European Forum Alpbach

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
Senior Event Coordinator, European Forum Alpbach

Lots of virtual audience buzz

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