What is a ‘hybrid meeting’? here are two interesting and slightly contrasting definitions -
A hybrid meeting features both physical, in-person elements and virtual elements. Every live event at a hybrid meeting may not be (and probably will not be) duplicated virtually, while other aspects of the meeting may be virtual-only. The virtual elements of a hybrid meeting may continue after the physical event ends.
A hybrid meeting combines both face-to-face interactions for those in attendance with virtual interaction for those visiting online. Some of the arguments in favour of hybrid meetings include the opportunity to provide additional marketing for the physical events, the ability to extend your audience reach and the capacity to measure the effectiveness of your programme content. The earlier concerns that virtual events would ‘cannibalise’ physical events, has simply not come to pass.
On recent posts we emphasised how the ‘live’ or face to face meeting still had a huge and effective part to play in the current event space, and that in fact for many important purposes, was the best format to optimum desired outcome and success. Obviously this is in the face of the huge increase in popularity of ‘virtual meetings’ – lets repeat what we said earlier – - – - quote.
Forbes Insights survey respondents said face-to-face meetings are best for;
- Persuasion – 91%
- Leadership – 87%
- Engagement – 85%
- Inspiration – 85%
- Decision making – 82%
- Accountability – 79%
- Candor – 78%
- Focus – 75%
- Reaching a consensus – 71%
In remarkable contrast, only 30% or less said web-conferencing, videoconferencing and teleconferencing are best for persuasion, leadership, engagement, inspiration, decision- making, accountability, and reaching a consensus.
Now we have a concept, growing in popularity, which combines the two ideas in various ways and degrees. The virtual component opens up a whole new realm of techniques and possibilities. Here are just some of these;
- Accept general session questions from the virtual audience via Twitter
- Stream only the general session to save money, but repackage breakout sessions on demand within 24 hours
- Interview speakers ‘newsroom style’ after the general session and make these interviews available to online audience
- Provide large flat-screen monitors in breakout and networking areas to view streamed sessions while at the conference and encourage further engagement with content. Provide on-demand sessions on these screens if nothing is currently being offered virtually
- Create or recruit four to five twitter accounts dedicated to tweets – ensure someone is tweeting at least every five minutes during streaming sessions to encourage other tweets and retweets
- Provide two to three smaller, fast-fold screens in the general session room (depending on room size) and display the conference twitter feed during sessions so physical attendees can see what is being commented on by the virtual audience and to encourage greater continuity between the two audiences
Meetings managers and makers no longer fear, or need to fear – virtual event technology. Together, online and physical meetings components can successfully drive business engagement and create new revenue opportunities. The advent of “hybrid” meetings—online presence complementing and enhancing physical events – is putting to rest concerns that face-to-face meetings might be reduced even further or possibly become obsolete.
Furthermore, let us hope these new hybrid meetings flourish; they’re a win-win for hotels, groups, suppliers and customers.
And let us hope, too, hotel sales associates, and meeting organisers and facilitators have learned from their tough selling experiences of 2009 and 2010 and are smarter, better prepared and eager to solicit, capture and satisfy this anticipated increase in meetings and event demand. The hybrid meeting may just be a trump card here. This merging together of online components with traditional face-to-face meeting formats bodes really well for the future of off-site business meetings—such an important market for so many group-oriented hotels, resorts, meeting facilitators and planners, and conference centres.