While quickening vaccination rates are driving optimism among in-person meeting organizers, virtual and hybrid technologies are likely to remain a force driving expanded meeting audiences in the years ahead. To keep up with the trend, hotel companies are expanding their digital solutions.
• At Marriott International, the Connect with Confidence program has expanded. Originally introduced as sanitation guidelines and operational procedures for safe meetings, Marriott has added hybrid-event know-how to the mix. It announced in late February that hybrid-focused resources, including providers and pricing, will be available in March at Marriott hotels across the U.S. and Canada. Among the companies that Marriott has announced as partners are event production company Encore, formerly PSAV; meeting technology company Cvent, which introduced a virtual event platform in September; Convene, which has day-meeting facilities around the country and a virtual meeting platform; and two more virtual event platforms: MeetingPlay and Hopin.
• Also announced in late February, Omni Hotels has formalized its program for virtual and hybrid events under the name Ready, Set, Go Hybrid. Omni is partnering with Encore to provide three digital meeting services: Omni Virtual Studio, a professional-quality broadcast space for individuals or small groups to participate in virtual events; Omni Hybrid Small Meeting for up to 15 in-person attendees; and Omni Hybrid Your Way for larger groups and more complex meetings that might include connecting presenters from multiple Omni venues. The virtual- and hybrid-meeting offerings integrate with both Omni’s Safe & Clean and Encore’s MeetSAFE guidelines for running Covid-safe events.
• In January, Hilton Hotels added EventReady Hybrid Solutions as part of its EventReady program introduced last summer with pandemic meeting guidance for groups. The hybrid addition sets standards for participating hotels, including acceptable bandwidth, and offers technology packages through Encore for small hybrid events at hotels with the company's Presentation Stages broadcast technology and staging equipment, including the Hilton Atlanta, Hilton Denver, Hilton Anatole, and The Beverly Hilton. The company plans to roll out the hybrid program in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa by the end of the year
• In April, Accor will officially launch All Connect, which puts Microsoft Teams technology into its hotel meeting rooms. The effort is focused on events for small groups of up to 50 people, and the goal is to make Teams available at 100 percent of its hotels that have meeting rooms by 2022.