5 Emerging Trends Affecting Hybrid Meetings

5 Emerging Trends Affecting Hybrid Meetings

If 2020 was the year of video conferencing, then 2021 (and possibly 2022) will be known as the year of hybrid meetings. With continued uncertainty surrounding global health and climate change, hybrid events will be a popular choice for corporate meetings for at least another.

While hybrid event delivery isn’t new, we’ve seen small and large businesses jump on the hybrid meeting train within the last two years. The benefits these companies have experienced convince us that hybrid events are here to stay.

First, hybrid allows companies to pivot from in-person to virtual (or somewhere in between) with confidence. Considering the increase in a remote workforce, hybrid is the perfect choice to reach a wide audience with efficiency, speed, and a smaller carbon footprint. Many companies and organizations are stepping up their environmental policies, and hybrid meetings are a great way to do this.

As we look to the future of corporate events, some emerging trends are helping justify this new way of meeting. These trends will equip you with the information to convince stakeholders of this strategy to reduce costs and improve efficiency while meeting business objectives.

Trend 1: Supporting a Remote Workforce

Work from home (WFH) had its big moment in 2020-2021. Today, WFH is being touted as one of the greatest company benefits and has broken the ceiling for finding the best talent. In the fall and winter of 2021, nearly 60% of the workforce was remote. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that up to one-third of the U.S. workforce will remain WFH one or more days per week after the pandemic.

Businesses that can support WFH will reap the benefits of reduced office space (and rent), the ability to hire from a wider pool of applicants, and increased productivity. Several studies on the effects of the pandemic reported that, on average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.

But not all businesses can support 100% remote. In addition, not all workers want to WFH. Hybrid technology provides the best of both worlds and provides tools for conducting business on a large and small scale. Many companies are using this platform for interviewing, onboarding, training, and team collaboration events.

Trend 2: Sustainability and Safety

Climate change is a topic in which seems to be in the headlines daily. International travel is one of the largest producers of carbon emissions and a big hot button on this topic. A two-day, 1,000 person event can generate nearly two million kgs of carbon. Virtual events drop this number significantly by reducing the need for travel and conference space by almost 80%.

Travel and energy emissions aren’t the only sustainable savings either. Replacing printed badges, paper tickets, forms, and promotional materials with digital files also create a greener event. This last year, virtual and hybrid events have seen huge shifts in digital gifts, unboxing parties, and virtual reality, all of which bring participants together without having them be in the same physical space.

When it comes to safety, physical distance and sanitation are still a top priority. However, for in-person events, maintaining a 6-foot distance while inside buildings can be challenging. Hybrid events can help keep everyone safer by keeping in-person audiences smaller while not limiting the overall size of the event. Communication, collaboration, and innovation are not compromised when the right platform and tech tools are in place.

Trend 3: Faster Time to Market and Resources

Even before the pandemic, cutting-edge companies were leveraging virtual and hybrid meetings to train their workforce, conduct proof of concept meetings, hold product feature releases and launches, and collaborate with partners. What’s different today? Hybrid is now considered a strategic way to bring products and services faster to market.

Stakeholders and program holders realize that virtual and hybrid events are more agile than in-person events in many ways. With an in-person event, there will always be a risk of cancellation due to inclement weather or other physical circumstances beyond control. Virtual and hybrid events minimize these risks dramatically.

Additionally, since hybrid/virtual events can be recorded, there is the added benefit of on-demand viewing for those absent from the meeting. These meeting recordings can be used in employee onboarding or training, providing long-lasting value.

Companies are using virtual meeting technology in creative ways to provide faster time to information, resources, and collaboration to gain a competitive edge. One company used a hybrid hub-and-spoke model to partition a large sales conference into five connected regional events, bringing representatives from around the globe. This event was one of the most well-attended events in their company history, and now is the preferred method to deliver this conference.

There are many different hybrid meeting configurations connecting speakers and facilitators to global audiences: hub-and-spoke, one event/two audiences, live events with a virtual-only audience, and more. Here’s an article on three of the most popular.

Trend 4: Increased Engagement and Personalization

One of the most important KPIs in meetings is engagement. The level of engagement and interaction is often linked to attendee satisfaction. Since hybrid seeks to connect remote audiences with on-site attendees and speakers, engagement and satisfaction are greatly enhanced. A key feature of hybrid events is collaboration. Remote attendees are encouraged (and often required) to keep their webcam on and participate via chat and audio. Today’s hybrid platforms include robust tools making it easy for audiences to participate in live polls, Q&A, and chat.

Personalization is another emerging trend that hybrid events address amazingly well. An example of this is accessibility. Screen readers, translators, and other applications are designed to support people with varying abilities and/or languages. The growing need for personalization— from food and product allergies to personal preferences—can be accomplished more easily via digital methods.

Another huge benefit of hybrid is access to event data. Many of today’s most popular digital platforms have many ways to collect pre-, during, and post-event data. This data can provide a lot of valuable intelligence to draw out actionable insights. For example, you can find out how many people attended individual sessions, visited sponsor booths, or downloaded collateral. Surveys may be used to further discover attendees’ personal preferences for even more customization at future events.

Trend 5: Promotion of the Event Experience

These days, one of the measures of success for an event is social media engagement. Just go to your Instagram or LinkedIn feed, and you’re bound to see your network sharing selfies, team photos, and other experiences while at an event. Digital event platforms allow for integrating social media feeds, hashtags, and personal mentions so that attendees can share their experiences in real-time.

Social media can be used for promotion before and after an event and is a powerful engagement tool during an event. Tagging speakers and spotlighting sessions using a hashtag can help build excitement and promote attendance. You can create social forums and social media walls to share details about sessions and speakers and connect with other attendees during an event.

Want more information on how to pull off a flawless hybrid event?

Download The Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Events, a must-have e-book chock full of the latest technology trends, engagement tips, planning tools, best practices, and more.

How AMI Helps Fortune 500 Companies Host Amazing Hybrid Events

How AMI Helps Fortune 500 Companies Host Amazing Hybrid Events

AMI Founder Andy McNeill was recently featured on Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast to share his knowledge and experience with hybrid events.

The event industry has always done hybrid meetings; they just didn’t always call them that. And now that virtual meeting technology has allowed more people than ever to work from home with ease, and while many people do not want to travel, the shift in the industry will be towards hybrid events.

In this episode, Andy offers examples of ways he’s seen clients produce engaging and exciting meetings and events with the attendee experience as the priority. AMI uses its broad network of partners worldwide to source the best ideas to bring innovative and fresh concepts to the table to create outstanding events.

“Business is important, but a great experience is still first.”

– Andy McNeill, AMI Founder

Not only are hybrid events here to stay, but virtual events are also creating more opportunities and saving organizations money. Learn how the Four Seasons is being creative and extending their branding to online attendees, how the future of hotels is shifting, including flexible lodging for digital nomads, and how the virtual meeting pushes all generations to advancement through innovative business operations.

Check out the podcast here: SlickTalk Podcast: How Hybrid Events are Here to Stay with Andy McNeill

Get more Hybrid Meeting Resources from AMI here:

Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

The landscape for the corporate meeting and event industry has been entirely disrupted by the pandemic of 2020. As we begin to unravel from it all, our hope is in what is to come.

The good news is that the demand for corporate meetings remains strong. We are social creatures, and business meetings must happen to help us align on goals and with each other. The shift organizations made to online meetings, and virtual events showed us that business, events, and meetings needed to continue to move forward, regardless of the global pandemic landscape. Networking, product research and development, collaboration, and team communication must, and will, continue.

The question isn’t whether or not group events will happen; it is how they will look and how to make them successful. As we all look forward, prepare for the future and glide into the new normal, here are three trends we expect to see strengthened.

Venues are Getting Ready for Hybrid Events

Virtual events have been the primary way organizations have held meetings of every type. As businesses that have been limited or sheltered are once again opening doors, we expect hybrid events to take over.

The boom in virtual meetings has created new best practices in the industry, improving production logistics and technology for the better. We expect hybrid events to dominate with user familiarity, and venues must get ready to meet their needs.

CVBs and DMCs are Expanding

Convention and Visitor Bureaus, along with Destination Management Companies, are expanding their partnerships and adjusting their income models. Going from a steady income of event hosting, then coming to a complete halt in some cases, due to the pandemic, CVBs and DMCs are looking at how they price and who they need to have in their portfolio of connections.

Broadening networks and outreach to be more diverse helps balance out income sources, and partnering with additional vendors will allow for more agility should something like a global disruption happen again.

Focus on Health and Safety

Hybrid events will continue to attract participants most comfortably – live or digital. Meeting technologies, along with health and safety will continue to be a focus and priority for attendees, venues, and event planners. Local government mandates will continue to shift, and those in the meetings industry will need to be flexible to meet those changes. Procedures to maintain safety will continue to be front and center with signage, technology, PPE, and more. Onsite testing is likely to be a live event standard. Find more resources here: Meeting Health & Safety

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

Swag bags and logoed promotional products have long been a staple of corporate events and gifting. This last year has undoubtedly changed the environment of corporate live meetings and altered the state of corporate gifting.

For one, it has made customized ordering (each person can order what they want) and direct shipping much more accessible and user-friendly than ever before. It has also placed a value on higher-end gifts. This type of gift is one way corporations reinvested conference expenses previously spent on live events back into the participants or staff. While name-brand goods cost 25% – 75% more than generic, it hits home when staff or clients receive a recognizable brand.

Participants at live events have grown accustomed to receiving their welcome packet, name badge, and swag bag. This last year of virtual meetings brought us creative unboxing parties, and this year, as hybrid meetings become the new normal, we expect to see the innovation grow.

“Use a professional to navigate quantity pricing. They also make sure your gift achieves the intended impact without being gaudy. Logo size, color, and positioning all need to be thought through and done well.”

– Michael Lumpkin, Thread Logo Co-Founder

As we move into this next stage, we wanted to inspire you with these five curated gifts by our American Meetings Network Prime Member, Thread Logo, with high quality, name-brand value, and without the bank-breaking price tag. The key to this is using a professional who can deliver value.

Charging Pads and Devices

We are all plugged in and needing power. These charging pads make it easy, allowing recipients to leave all the cords behind and charge phones, watches, earbuds, or anything electronic and rechargeable. Ideal for travel or home, these are helpful to both the tech-savvy and not.

Sherpa Blankets

Blankets and throws are a great unisex gift welcome year-round for indoor or outdoor cuddling. Neutral colors match home or office décor or can easily be thrown into the car for a road trip, camping, or picnic after the event.

Fine Leather Goods

High quality and hand-made in the USA, these luxury gifts will become a staple for the receiver. Padfolios for event notetaking, or totes and briefcases for conference materials or hauling paperwork from client meetings to networking groups, these are a perfect gift.

Ring Lights

Videos, Zoom meetings, and even profile pictures look better with good lighting. With a variety of warmth, brightness, sizes, and adjustability, ring lights make your participants look great. Whether live streaming content at the event, capturing an afterparty shout-out or uploading the next viral TikTok, you will be equipping your team towards screen confidence.

Bose

Bose is a household name when it comes to sound quality, which makes these highly valued gifts. Speakers, headphones, and earbuds with the Bose name ensure crisp sound anyway your recipient wants to experience it.

The goal of gifting has always been to help people be pulled into the fold of the sponsor – to help them feel like they are part of something bigger. Whether this is a company purchasing wearables to demonstrate unity at an event, or attendees receiving swag to welcome them and invite them into the experience, corporate gifting accomplishes this.

Your professional meeting planner can help source and distribute these items on your behalf. Just ask AMI!

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

Restrictions on travel and in-person meetings are lifting, but uncertainty still exists for the event industry. For much of 2020, and even in 2021, corporate meeting planners had to quickly pivot to virtual meeting platforms, if not cancel long-planned events. Hybrid meetings will likely bring large gatherings back into the public space and may become the new normal for the corporate meetings industry.

Thankfully, this last year has helped shorten the learning curve, improve the technology, and built a foundation for best practices in the virtual and hybrid meeting arena. Virtual and hybrid events will continue to be elevated in their capabilities and acceptance.

Finding Solutions

Event planners will need to rely on their never-ending resourcefulness and creativity, just as always, just in the new meeting normal. This means that understanding live, virtual and hybrid events is more critical than ever. Understanding the benefits of each event type to best match client needs is vital. From there, using the right tools becomes the foundation of the event.

In live events, this could look like having the right team and venue. In virtual and hybrid events, it is critical to have an effective digital platform. For example, Zoom, one of many AMI partners, offers meetings for under 1,000 participants and webinars for up to 50,000. They also integrate with marketing softwares like Hubspot, payment portals like PayPal, and even transcription services.

Being Creative and Engaging

Don’t shy away from virtual tradeshows, keynotes, live entertainment, or town-hall-style panels. Technology and production teams are dedicated to hosting nearly anything virtually or through combined live and virtual hybrid presentations.

Regardless of the type of event, creativity and a focus on participant engagement help the event be successful. Understanding the target audience, using good pacing and/or layout, an engaging master of ceremonies, event swag, and opportunities to connect are all part of this engagement piece.

(Read this interview with AMI Partner Jason Alpert on why and how to hire a master of ceremonies for virtual events.)

Promoting Wider

One benefit of virtual and hybrid events is the ability to market and promote them outside a specific location while not requiring participant (or speaker) travel. Utilize QR codes to drive those engaging with tangible marketing materials online for information and registration.

Seamlessly connect registration and attendance for security and valuable data gathering, such as surveys, polls, and feedback forms.

Event planners, if you need support in building your hybrid production skills and teams to better prepare for virtual and hybrid events, AMI can help. Contact us today for more information.