Does a Future of Hybrid Events Await Us? Representatives of Key Companies Presented Their Visions at the O2 universum
On Wednesday, 26 May, one of the first hybrid events called "HYBRID – Prepare for the Return of Events" took place in the O2 universum complex in Vysočany. 40 guests participated in the event onsite, and another 90 remotely - online. Representatives of major companies and institutions across sectors presented their visions and opportunities, which they see in a hybrid model of cooperation. What do they think the post-covid period will look like for the events and meetings industry?
Due to the coronavirus crisis, 2020 was a year that significantly affected essential operations of a large number of companies, especially in the events industry. HYBRID – Get Ready for The Return of Events was one of the first major indoor events to take place since last autumn. Its venue is the second largest hall of the O2 universum congress and multifunctional centre. Here, in cooperation with AV Media Events, a modern online studio with the largest LED wall in the Czech Republic with dimensions of 16x4 meters was set up.
"We haven't been able to carry out our core activities in the event industry for 15 months. We are striving to show that even in this uncertain time, when events are very difficult to plan, there are still available possibilities to solve the situation. The solution is a hybrid event that is safe and offers a number of advantages: saving participants' time, lower risk of infection, but also better efficiency measurement, and the possibility to work with content even after the event. A major technological advantage of hybrid events is that each participant can choose which content they want to receive, in which part they want to actively participate, etc. Hybrid actions can cleverly combine the best of live and digital experiences. It will become important to keep the audience's attention and come up with more attractive content, with an emphasis on online and live audience interaction, and on the experience. But the main aspect will always be doing events safely," says Jan Kubinec, Managing Director of AV Media Events.
Representatives of major companies and institutions spoke at the joint meeting. Česká spořitelna has already started holding hybrid events in its building. "We expect that a half of the events will take place online, a quarter will be onsite for smaller teams or as teambuilding, and a quarter of them will be hybrid," said ČS representative Miloslav Tuček.
"The arrival of the hybrid event format has only been accelerated by the covid period. However, I still feel that it will be necessary to select which events will be ideal for hybrid or online format, and which will not be feasible without personal participation, enabling the emotions to be shared, such as sports matches or cultural events “said Vojtěch Dvořáček from Triada.
"I definitely feel that event agencies will have to adapt to changes and come up with new possibilities and opportunities. And companies will have to think about what kind of event they will actually want to hold, what its output should be and which format they will choose for it. I also think that we will soon stop calling it a hybrid, we will just get used to the event being combined this way," added Lenka Vaněk from EY Czech Republic. "The hybrid will definitely be a regular part of us. Content and time requirements will be important so that one can hold on following several hours of the transmission," pointed out Aleš Zahálka from the Czech Ice Hockey Association.
Forty participants from companies of various sectors and agencies came to the O2 universum in person, another ninety participants joined online. The audience in the hall could participate directly in the program through a special application that enabled them to answer poll questions, send their questions to speakers or share their own ideas during the event. Speakers were also available in the final panel discussion, during which they responded to the questions and ideas sent during the event.
„Covid times brought us a lot of hardship, but it also meant challenges for us. Thanks to the flexibility and size of the hall, this studio is the ideal place for hybrid events. We are able to prepare a completely tailor-made event at the O2 universum, whether it is a corporate meeting, training or gala evening. Sometimes it will make sense if both formats of the event (onsite and online) take place at the same time, other times the content and the overall dramaturgy of both parts will have to differ significantly in order to make participation attractive to both audiences – live and remote. That is why we have a production team, event direction, of course there is catering, staff, as well as technical preparation of registrations or presentation; we are ready to take on holding events of all kinds as soon as the government situation allows," adds Marek Chmátal, Sales Director of O2 universum, a venue with 39 halls.
The hybrid model as the future of events is not only talked about in the Czech Republic, but it is a worldwide trend. The fact that meetings Prague is a leader in this respect is also proven by another fact that the Czech capital city has, through the Prague Convention Bureau, become a founding member of the Hybrid City Alliance. The main goal of this global alliance, which now spreads over five continents, is cross-selling and mutual support for hybrid events, along with setting up and connecting hubs in each participating destination. "Through the Hybrid City Alliance, we have the opportunity to show our clients all the benefits of hybrid events, and at the same time we are ready to help them address their concerns and any, often specific, challenges they may face when organizing hybrid events. We are pleased that events like this in the O2 universum can now serve as a practical demonstration that such a well-prepared event is a fully fledged type of event. This is not just a temporary substitute at a time when holding mass events is limited. On the contrary, the hybrid format can fully satisfy the expectations of both organizers and participants, while providing them with the benefits that purely onsite or virtual events lack, whether it is, for example, interactive content, larger number of event participants, an emphasis on sustainability or saving finance associated with delegate travel," concludes Roman Muška, Director of the Prague Convention Bureau.