Hybrid events the way forward

SINGAPORE, 13 November 2020:  The Global Business Travel Association tells us Covid-19 will change the world’s lucrative events business into something better.

In what GBTA called a headliner webinar, “Virtual, In-Person, Hybrid: What’s Next for the Meetings Industry?” GBTA Interim executive director Dave Hilfman concluded that “the shift to all-virtual meetings over the past eight months will create benefits for the industry in the mid and long-term.”

Cvent CEO and founder Reggie Aggarwal, shared his insights on the future of meetings and events and how technology will play an even bigger role moving forward.

Webinar takeaways suggested there are heaps of positives backing the drift to virtual meetings. They include increased participation as well as cost and time savings. Hybrid events that are a mix of in-person and virtual attendance could be a more environmentally friendly way of networking, saving carbon footprints for those who attend virtually.

But Aggarwal concentrated on the direct business advantages starting with a wider and more diverse audience who engage in meetings and events that have a virtual component.

“Meeting and event programmes will be more powerful now with companies having not just one arrow in their quiver – in-person events – but three, with the addition of virtual and hybrid meeting capabilities that allow companies to grow their audience, ushering in what we call the golden age of events.”

Virtual event capabilities allow companies to keep their meetings and events staff on board, which puts the organizations in a stronger position to hit the ground running when in-person meetings ramp up again.

The webinar concluded that video conferencing technology around for 10 to 15 years has transformed with the growth that would normally take five to seven years happening in the first 30 to 60 days of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Early indicators show a positive outlook for meetings and events in 2021. From their insider perspective of working with hundreds of thousands of meeting and event programmes around the world, Cvent is starting to see bookings for later in 2021, including their own customer conference which is planned for the third quarter of next year.

“We know that attendee engagement levels are much higher for in-person events than for virtual, but I project that companies will take a hybrid approach – a combination of the in-person and virtual experience – to secure that high level of engagement while also being able to reach new attendees who may not be able, or feel comfortable, to attend in person,” said Aggarwal.

“The meetings and events industry will not only survive but also find ways to thrive, coming out of this pandemic,” Aggarwal forecast.

“People have been missing the texture of life, a big part of which is seeing customers and coworkers in person and will never again underestimate the power of the human connection. I would never bet against the determination and perseverance of those who work in meetings, events, travel, or hospitality, and with the latest news on the progress being made on a vaccine, our industry is poised for a truly great resurgence in the months and years ahead.”

For the recording of this session and more information on future webinars, visit gbta.org. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is a business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington DC area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than USD345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually.