The MICE industry faced one of its greatest challenges ever in 2020 as it came to a standstill resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home has since become a global phenomenon for most of the working population across the globe. Manoeuvring uncharted territories, event planners jumped on the virtual bandwagon in order to continue engaging their communities.
As the industry prepares itself for a phased and gradual recovery, event organisers are still cautiously navigating the evolving and uncertain global situation. Factors such as the differing pace of vaccination programmes across the world will mean that broad-based international business travel for big groups may take a while to go back to pre-COVID levels.
Harnessing the power of hybrid
Given the trend of hosting hybrid events, many would ask, is going hybrid here to stay, or is it just a fad? How does the future of hybrid look like moving forward?
The answer lies in the former scenario. While they are not a new phenomenon, Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption rate of hybrid event models, as organisers embrace a blend of physical and virtual worlds.
The uniqueness of meeting others face-to-face is an experience that virtual alternatives cannot capture yet. This is an industry that’s driven by the need to network and engage in peer-to-peer learning. So you can be sure that people will gravitate towards physical events once again, especially the positive – albeit inconsistent – development of vaccines. But the bigger question is: to what extent? Will the physical event component go back to pre-Covid levels or will it shrink permanently? With the exciting possibilities being presented by technology, all eyes are on whether event organisers will want to dig deeper into the virtual realm to extend their reach and grow their audience base, in parallel with the physical worlds. In time to come, the virtual components of hybrid events may end up being a supplementary revenue generator for event organisers.
Helping event planners move to Hybrid
With the industry swiftly moving towards hybrid formats, event planners may feel ill-equipped in planning their next hybrid event, due to a lack of expertise, time or resources. Conceptualising, developing and executing a hybrid event requires event planners to adopt a new mindset. While hosting hybrid events have its own set of challenges, event planners can make this transition easier by working closely with a trusted venue that has the expertise to take their hybrid event to the next level.
Venues can provide event organisers with the necessary tools to plan and execute a hybrid event. Marina Bay Sands already has a pool of digital event strategists to assist clients with designing a successful hybrid event that can meet all their needs. The team engages clients in meaningful conversations, steering them in the right direction so that clients can use these events as platforms for enhancing their brands. Event planners may want to consider choosing venues that have the technical expertise and infrastructure to support and host a visually impressive hybrid event. As the single largest owner of first-to-market equipment in lighting, video, sound and logistics, Marina Bay Sands was able to quickly develop the Hybrid Broadcast Studio in record time. Built for the industry, the Hybrid Broadcast Studio presented a viable solution to event organisers to move into the hybrid events arena. Broadcast-quality live-streaming capabilities, immersive stage, holographic telepresence and Mixed Reality provided planners with alternatives that not only bridges geographical boundaries but creatively drive content to a wider audience.
While challenging, Covid-19 has given the industry the opportunity to reimagine a future where technology will be widely adopted to complement the new event design and experiences. As the past year has shown, it is important for the industry to be agile and adaptive, and to be open to changes and new ideas – no matter how disruptive they may be.