Conferences & Events – Is the Future Really Hybrid?


P.Vx Live Event Highlights

Part of the Proof Experiences P.Vx Live series of informative and interactive events, “Live, Virtual, Hybrid! Planning the Future of Conferences” brought together top event experts to share what they are seeing now…and where they think we are going.

Close to 300 attendees tuned in on July 13 to hear the latest as conference planners and key industry players navigate the myriad of event options and limitations in these transformational times.

Meredith Donaghey, Sales Director with Destination Toronto, set the stage: “In Canada, we have seen very few live events to date, but we have learned a lot over the last 16 months and we will be better for it.”

Destination Toronto has been busy re-booking some large events for 2022 however “2023 is when you will really start to see the return of large conferences.”  “It is going to take us longer then expected to get back to where we were pre-Covid, ” added Donaghey.

Nicola Kastner, Global VP Event Marketing Strategy at SAP, oversees a team that manages more than 1,000 events a year around the world.  “Smaller, targeted live events are already back but there are no large live gatherings in 2021 without company approval. We are looking at 2022 and beyond.”

Delia Lapensee an award-winning Senior Account Manager with the Shaw Centre, Ottawa’s largest convention venue, said she sees “confidence coming back” and their “December 2021 calendar is lighting up like a Christmas tree.”

All panelists agreed this is a time to “think differently.”  Moderator Natalie Ciarallo, Director of Conferences & Events at Proof Experiences, posed the question: “Is the future really hybrid?”

While everyone agreed the additional virtual audience reach is a big benefit – many conference attendees are keen to meet face-to-face again. However, there are many new challenges for conference organizers going forward.

Additional expenses will come with the future of live and hybrid events including new security requirements; added health and safety protocols; additional housekeeping;  technology; supply chain challenges; etc.  And, it remains to be seen if employee travel budgets return anytime soon.

The issue of vaccinated vs unvaccinated was a hot topic amongst the panelists and in the participant chat.  The general consensus was it’s too difficult to set an agreed-upon standard so most organizers will default to the local protocols as the Covid situation advances around the world.

“This is a journey that is going to continue to evolve,” commented Kastner.

Bottom line:

Ciarallo summarized that the decision to host a live, virtual or hybrid event in the future will depend on “what makes the most sense for your attendees and your objectives”.

Ciarallo also advised attendees to start planning now for the future of live and hybrid events by reviewing insurance documents, staff training procedures, new safety protocols, etc.

To close, everyone agreed they are excited to see colleagues and conference attendees live and in-person again!

Watch the full “Live, Virtual, Hybrid! Planning the Future of Conferences” recording below. 


Chair|July 15, 2021

Tagged: , , , , , , ,