A hotel’s ability to clearly communicate its event delivery facilities can have a strong impact on renewing contracts with corporate clients and their willingness to host a hybrid event with one hotel vs. another. Whoever can create an environment where people feel safe to attend in-person and co-create a truly inclusive and collaborative experience for remote participants will carry the day. As one of the hospitality trends and challenges for 2022 says, “it’s all about the experience.”
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events offer the best of both worlds – combining in-person and digital elements, tailored to each audience through the right channel for optimal experiences. Imagine an in-person event that is simultaneously (or at a different time) broadcasted to a worldwide virtual audience. That’s exactly what a hybrid event aims to be – one event, but two experiences.
Going hybrid remarkably reduces travel and financial restrictions for attending any type of event, offering people an opportunity to remotely take part of an experience often provided by venues. But when in 2022 71.1% of event organizers still say that connecting in-person and virtual audiences is their biggest challenge, according to Markletic, how can major players in the hospitality industry prepare their venues for hybrid events? How can hotel leaders remain competitive in an ever-evolving event planning landscape? Let’s go find out.
Why do virtual and hybrid events still need venues?
Just because virtual and hybrid events are rolling out globally that doesn’t mean venues are out of luck. Event professionals may not be looking for an overly hybrid-ready hotel for 100% virtual events, but they still need to find a venue with the basics like a studio, a stage and AV equipment, to give a sleek feel to the broadcast. The background and surroundings remain key visual elements for the virtual viewer experience no matter what.
When it comes to sourcing a venue to host hybrid events, there’s a far greater need because attendees will actually be gathering and connecting to each other in the physical environment as well.
Is your venue geared for hybrid events?
The need to invest in the best live video streaming for events to support the demand from corporate clients and partners has been one of the most common concerns of meeting venues. Tech requirements can range from minimal bandwidth to the ability to isolate network traffic or listing proprietary devices, but all are aimed at enabling better communication and fast connectivity to optimize the hybrid experience. Again according to Markletic, 67% of event organizers state that technology to ensure a smooth experience is a challenge or concern. It’s not by chance that live streaming quality is a main concern to event planners.
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) sets out the most important equipment necessities of hybrid event production:
- Internet speed with enough bandwidth and hard-wired connection;
- Live streaming cameras with switchers for a technical broadcast;
- Crystal-clear audio supported by lavalier mics for speakers and handheld mics for audience questions;
- Live stream encoder to enable connection to a potential event management software.
As you see, a high-quality video camera and exceptional Wi-Fi is no longer optional. Since the hospitality industry largely sees hotel revenues coming from business events, hotel managers should ensure that they have the digital infrastructure to support these advanced features. Also, with the emergence of 5G technology, hoteliers should consider if the investments they make today will also work with 5G-ready equipment in the future.
Plus: If you’re going to work with a third party, always request for on-site support and make sure that your needs are not simply executed. A true partner is invested in long-term results, rather than being focused only on the readiness of a single event.
Hotel companies investment in hybrid events
Over the past two years, hotel groups have been investing in hybrid meeting options so their corporate events continue to rebound. Hotel venues have strongly invested in their technology offerings to support virtual and hybrid events, with 32% globally having made a major investment and 49% having made at least some investment, according to the live event industry community XLIVE.
Here’s the top 5 hotel groups investing:
- Marriott International has expanded its ‘Connect With Confidence’ program to hybrid event production. For that purpose, the hotel group has been partnering with several event tech providers that offer innovative solutions for hosting hybrid meetings;
- Hilton has launched ‘Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions’, a new suite of solutions available at its range of hybrid-ready hotels, along with new planning resources and flexible customer offers;
- ‘Hybrid Meetings by Hyatt’ came up as turn-key solution for multi-destination events that can facilitate gatherings for up to 15 attendees per location;
- Building on the ‘Meet with Confidence’ program, IHG Hotels and Resorts has decided to work closely with technology experts to expand its hybrid event offerings;
- Last but not least, Omni Hotels & Resorts has also partnered with Encore to launch the ‘Ready, Set, Go Hybrid’, enabling event planners to access production facilities easily, depending on the scale of the event.
Is it hybrid events that your business needs to scale?
It’s not just about overcoming the challenges of a global pandemic, but about providing optimum overall event experiences to navigate new audience expectations in a digital world. It’s about not being left behind and addressing a shift in customer demand in time to succeed.
Think simple. If your customers believe that greater reach with multi-channel engagement points will help achieve their business growth potential, why not adapt your traditional offering to hybrid events and grow yours too?
Technology has taken center stage for a reason – to be the catalyst to a bigger, stronger, and more impactful global meetings and events industry. And see how quickly it has become the new medium for the hospitality industry to drive human connection, revolutionizing the way people interact and do business.