In the spring of 2020, events that were in-person with some video recording tacked on, needed to suddenly become fully virtual. Planners scrambled to reserve virtual event platforms. Fortunately, that hysteria has died down and virtual event platforms have become ubiquitous and stable. Now, hybrid event sourcing – professional staging, video production and the best digital platforms – may be the next step for professional and engaging events.
While it’s true that those who work for sourcing companies like HelmsBriscoe, Maritz Global Events, HPN Global, ConferenceDirect and other volume buyers such as American Express GBT or CWT Global Events may have a leg up on room block negotiation or securing physical meeting space, what’s most important today is asking whether your meeting pro has acquired the skills necessary to support hybrid meetings.
There is a need to replace scratchy video recordings done from home with more “Hollywood” type sessions requires securing premium production support in the city(ies) where the recordings will take place. This is in addition to working with the hotels for necessary housing of staff, speakers and attendees and VIPs, and doing so safely, This requires someone who has acquired the additional training and experience necessary to at least knows what’s required.
To their credit, some hotel chains and convention centers have improved not only their health and safety processes and protocols, steps that would take other locations years to develop, but have added staging to professional video services. Some have even standardized their offerings and will recommend a virtual event platform to boot. See Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions and this example of a versatile hybrid event set-up created with its partner Encore.
Local knowledge is a big plus. Sometimes selecting the right hotels within cities, within blocks even – can make the difference between positive and negative attendee feedback. If a hotel has a great staging, wifi and plenty of a/v support, but there are restrictions due to union’s safety concerns around Covid-19 – you should be the first one to know.
Expect them to go the extra mile. A meeting sourcing pro will have safety top of mind, and offer creative solutions for in-person attendees. For example, one crew attending a hybrid meeting did much of the filming and in-person meetings live and together with protocols in place. When it came time to share the typical banquet dinner, they instead returned to their hotel rooms, each with room service, and got together on Zoom.
With so many moving parts going into planning a meeting or convention, especially when it’s both in person and virtual, it is impossible to foresee everything that can happen. A good sourcing professional seeks to fill in those blanks with transparency and honesty and some personal experience in vetting the site, production staff and how it interacts with the virtual platform (a “digital twin” in the best cases).