At our last meeting, Sea to Sky’s team had an interesting discussion about balancing virtual and in-person meetings. In our emerging reality of hybrid meetings, how do we balance the experience and expectations of attendees physically located in a meeting room with remote attendees?
One team member, who enjoys her coffee, was wondering about coffee breaks. If the in-person group is enjoying a morning coffee made by the hotel’s barista, will the remote audience feel left out?
Another team member, especially tuned into AV requirements, was discussing the complexities of a Q&A session, and how a ‘line up’ of those wanting to ask questions would be managed. Funny, the coffee drinker complained about the local coffee shop that prioritized online orders over those customers standing in line, physically, in front of the barista. (She no longer frequents that coffee shop.)
We talked about networking (how much easier it is for those physically in attendance – while enjoying a coffee), ways to integrate pre-recorded with live sessions so that both audiences appreciate the presentation, and how to integrate online polling for the in-person audience.
My part of the discussion focused on how the meeting model is shifting yet again as our communities and our world start to slowly open up. Our job is to ensure we balance all attendees’ experiences and expectations, regardless of location, so that our clients are satisfied. We talked about how to understand and realize each client’s vision for a hybrid event while inserting emerging best practice.
As discussed by Rob Carey in “Hybrid Meetings: What’s Now, What’s Next”, our clients may need a simple pairing of one meeting space with a remote attendance, to a complex hub-and-spoke model of “multiple in-person meeting sites along with a virtual audience across several time zones; a combination of pre-recorded content and live presentations, with a few delivered from remote locations; and some collaboration between the in-person and remote audiences but also separate networking opportunities for each audience.”
The biker on our team enjoyed the hub-and-spoke analogy of the complex hybrid event. She does a lot of work with hotels, so is following closely news releases about how hotels are creatively adapting their space and packages to accommodate. She told us about Sue Hatch’s article “Hotel Chains Prep for Hybrid Events” in which she provided a quick overview of four international chains’ approaches. We considered the complexity of a hotel contract that included meeting spaces in multiple hotels around the world so that attendees could gather and participate without international travel. Our coffee drinker started trying to figure out coffee versus happy hour breaks, but decided to leave that discussion until next time.
Our team meeting buoyed my perspective on our industry’s future. Everyone is in this together, and our industry partners are stepping up and getting creative, quickly. I can’t wait until our next meeting!
Sarah Lowis, CMP, CMM, CAE, BA (French)
President and Founder