In MSAE’s 2021 Member Survey, concerns about the status of in-person meetings and the cost and logistics of hybrid meetings ranked at the top of the list, right behind revenue concerns. Outside of the survey, we’ve heard these concerns daily from both association professionals and industry partners.
In general, associations need in-person meetings to maximize revenue (via sponsorships and registration fees) and maintain member engagement (face time generates loyalty). But, with the evolving state of the pandemic and uncertainty about travel budgets and attendee readiness, many associations are looking to offer live, virtual access to their in-person events. This need means associations are looking to venues to be prepared to support this new dimension of in-person meetings and help them manage costs.
For venues, this is a big ask. The industry has been devastated by COVID-related shutdowns and, now, is struggling to re-staff their properties. Eager to book business and re-engage the meetings market, venue staff are scrambling to develop an understanding of:
- Specifically how planner expectations are changing due to hybrid meetings
- How venues can support groups looking to host hybrid events, and
- How building that developing that capability may offer their property a competitive edge.
A/V Provider/Production Company
While the relationship between venue and association is critical, hybrid meetings elevate the importance of on-site technology. Hybrid event success hinges on what is now a 3-way partnership between the venue, association, and a/v production company. This partnership is fraught with questions, like:
- How do venue audiovisual support and a production company work together? Are both necessary or does the venue have in-house capability?
- How does simulcasting event sessions fit into the association’s technology systems, e.g., AMS (association management software), LMS (learning management software, etc.? Or, does the production company offer a virtual event solution to accompany the association’s software?
- What does all of this cost? Who is responsible for what? How is all of this to be managed on top of the safe meetings guidelines for in-person gatherings?