For RSECon2022, the Society and the RSE Conference Committee have decided to take a step towards enabling online attendance this year by recording all the sessions over the three days. After the conference, the recordings will be available for free on the Society YouTube channel. This is something we’ve not attempted before at our annual in-person RSE Conference and so will be a good learning experience for us and a step towards a hybrid option in the future.
It is with regret that we are unable to offer an online interactive option to attend the RSE Conference this year. We are aware that, to be more inclusive and accessible, we should offer a fully online interactive option for the conference and we had the best intentions to offer this. Unfortunately, the quotes we received ranged from £35,000 to £75,000. For a small charity and considering that the popularity of an online ticket is unknown at this point, this wasn’t a financial risk that we were willing to take. As trustees, we have the legal obligation to ensure the stability of the charity so our focus has been on the in-person tickets. We signed contracts early in 2022 for a main conference venue and several dinner venues that we are obliged to pay even if tickets do not sell.
It has been a steep learning curve, and we will use what we have learned to improve what we can offer next year (and the years after that). What we are taking away is that making a good hybrid conference happen will need dedicated people (like an online chair plus team) working on it from the beginning, and people being in charge of the online content throughout the planning phase and the conference itself. We will take this into account for future RSECons.
If you are passionate about online conference attendance and think that the RSE Conference should be a hybrid conference in future, please consider volunteering to help it become a reality next year. You can contact us at [email protected] to offer your help. We welcome all opinions and experience to make this happen.