Two weeks ahead of the first hybrid World Education Congress that Meeting Professionals International has ever planned, Annette Gregg, CMM, senior vice president of experience, addressed registered attendees and prospects via a 10-minute video broadcast on MPI’s Facebook page. Her mission: Answer the 10 most-asked questions about the November 3-6 event, which combines an in-person audience that must navigate the pandemic environment along with a virtual audience of thousands from around the world.
To determine the most-common queries, MPI promoted a survey link one week ahead of the broadcast where attendees and prospects could go to vote up or down on more than a dozen pre-selected questions or submit a question of their own. The survey closed on Friday, October 16 and Gregg appeared on Facebook on the morning of Monday, October 19 to provide not just the answers but also a reassuring personal presence for attendees.
Approaching the questions in ascending order towards the most-asked one, Gregg addressed four questions related to on-site safety:
- What measures will speakers and sponsors take to ensure safety in their interactions with attendees?
- What are the communication protocols if someone on site tests positive for Covid-19?
- How is the host property ensuring safety throughout the venue?
- What will happen if some people do not wear their masks consistently? (This was the most-asked question.)
While brief, each of Gregg’s answers touched on the detailed framework that MPI and the host property, the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, have created from best practices, including the experiences of in-person events that have already taken place in the pandemic environment. And she had a humorous response for dealing with people who might be repeat offenders of the on-site mask requirement: “They must go up on the main stage on the final day and sing a song. Then we’ll call it even.” With extra personnel on hand from MPI’s Dallas headquarters as well as from MPI’s DFW chapter, Gregg said there will be a lot of observing and “gentle reminding” for those who forget to mask up again after eating or for some other reason. (For more on developing and enforcing your on-site code of conduct, click here.)
The other topic that generated multiple questions was the experience of virtual participants:
- Will there be a way for online attendees to coordinate their experiences so they get both the content and the interaction they want?
- Will there be an app or other function that lets online attendees network and be social with each other?
- Will all sessions be live for both in-person and online attendees?
Gregg responded that virtual attendees will be able to interact with session presenters as well as with other virtual attendees through the platform. In fact, most sessions leaders who present on site will then move to a production studio at the Gaylord Texan to deliver the same session specifically for the online audience, so that the entire event consists of live programming and presenter-interaction opportunities for virtual participants.
In addition, Gregg noted that the key to having the best virtual experience is for those attendees to fill out their online profiles as deeply as possible ahead of time. This way, the platform’s algorithms can point them in their desired directions, connecting them to the most relevant sessions as well as to the most relevant colleagues for knowledge-sharing and networking.
You can view Annette Gregg’s 10-minute Facebook video here.