The future of hybrid events in pandemic times

During a series of talks entitled “Reimagining Association Events”, panelists Helmut Schwägermann, Prof. em., Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Mike Lee, Vice President of Sales, Marina Bay Sands and Stephane Talboom, Director of Sales, K.I.T. Group debated over the necessity to host hybrid events.

With the pandemic, hybrid or full-virtual events are the new mantra as physical relations are almost impossible for now. But will it last forever? The question was raised during a session presented by K.I.T. Group and Marina Bay Sands in partnership with ITB Asia.

For Stephane Talboom, the assessment of conducting a hybrid event is essential. “We must evaluate if the hybrid event fits into a strategy and assess its costs, because it requires virtual exhibition experts but also communication and technology experts, as well as strong content and a strong panel to attract followers,” he explained.

Hybrid is perceived as a good way to attract a bigger audience as a real conference might see delegate numbers clipped for health safety. “A conference could be limited to 500 or 1,000 delegates. Bringing a hybrid solution would help expand its global appeal, and it can help in reducing the carbon footprint,” said Mike Lee, VP Sales, Marina Bay Sands.

Working out the content of the conference is crucial. “The use of 3D technology and various digital techniques from a broadcast studio should capture participants’ imagination”, added Lee.

5G technology and augmented reality will further improve the layout of hybrid events. But there is still a strong desire to meet physically. According to Talboom, building trust among partners requires physical contact. A recent survey found 63% of business people would prefer a physical contact rather than going virtual. “Hybrid” is for now the magic formula.

Photo: Resimagining association events screen shot