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What’s Holding Hybrid Meetings Back: Fear, Funds, Lack of Experience

Two recent events aimed to build planner confidence in a format that will help them transition out of the pandemic.

Early July saw meeting planners, hospitality providers, and technology companies come together simultaneously in person and online to discuss the possibilities that hybrid meetings offer. As the coronavirus pandemic lingers, the combined live-and-virtual meeting experience known as hybrid is widely seen as an initial step in resuming in-person business meetings. 

First, etc.venues conducted an in-person meeting of a small number of planners at its County Hall property in London, England, that also brought in 1,095 remote attendees from around the world via the Glisser virtual-event platform. An initial survey found that 73 percent of attendees were planning to hold a hybrid event for their organizations before the end of 2020. Even so, many had reservations about coordinating and executing them. For instance, 19 percent said that lack of experience is the biggest barrier to holding a hybrid event, followed by cost concerns (17 percent), risk of failure (17 percent), potential for low attendance (16 percent), confusion with technology (16 percent), and getting stakeholder buy-in (15 percent).

A discussion panel addressed how to improve hybrid events, including strategies for engaging attendees who are fully remote rather than being at an in-person location. A survey conducted at the end of the event found that 70 percent of attendees were confident in their ability to create an effective hybrid meeting, compared to 55 percent of attendees before the event.

HybridHagueCrowd0720.jpegIn late July, etc.venues will conduct another hybrid event—featuring two in-person meeting locations plus remote attendees—to educate more planners on the concept. 

The other hybrid educational event took place at WTC The Hague Conference Center in the Netherlands. Hosted by The Hague Convention Bureau, the session hosted 65 in-person attendees (shown here) and 160 virtual attendees.

A socially distanced four-person panel—comprising a corporate planner, two association planners, and a meeting-design expert—discussed the logistical challenges of conducting hybrid meetings, maximizing attendance and revenue, and delivering ROI to attendees and sponsors.

HybridHaguePanel.jpegOf central importance: “We need to consider the balance between the reduction of income related to on-site registrations and the huge number of potential delegates attending meetings virtually,” said panelist Guillem Torres, executive director and congress organizer for Torres Pardo SL, an association management firm. “If well managed, event profits could be increased” by using the hybrid medium.

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