Conferences & Events – Is the Future Really Hybrid?

a group of women attending a p Vx Live virtual event

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.


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.

Best “Stop and Look” Factor

2 black chairs sitting in front of a screen

Silk didn’t mince words on its big signage. “WE HAVE FREEDOM AND COOKIES!” was prominently displayed on a 10ft high sign – we made a beeline! The cheeky tone and offerings were a clever nod to their “unbanking” brand. They leaned into the “unbanking” feel with a great looking booth that would have fit seamlessly into SOHO, casually laid back vibes and some next-level designer swag.

Silk celebrated its launch a few weeks ago and its number one priority at the show was lead generation. They created custom swag that had all three of us from Proof Experiences standing in line, downloading the app and handing over our emails on the spot!

Best Use of Space

Decked out in the season’s hottest Barbie-pink colour and two-stories to their booth, it was hard not to take notice of Quantum Metric – a digital analytics company. We stopped immediately and had to peek inside. What it led to was a really fun, relevant and engaging experience. Their team had great energy and they leaned into the Vegas vibes. A well-displayed prize wall was the backdrop to a bar where you faced the dealer in “High Low” cards. The higher value prizes on the top shelf were part of a contest that you were automatically entered into if you let them scan your badge.

The second story was a lounge area complete with seating, drinks and snacks where they could host potential clients and provide a great, unobstructed view of the main stage.

Being only 6 days out from attending the conference Quantum Metric has been prompt in following up with us as a lead. Extra points for quick recall!

2 black chairs sitting in front of a screen

The common theme for all these booths were that they were immersive; you could physically enter their space; they were fun and engaging. They took the time to think about the experience and executed the details really well.

As for the rest of the Vegas experiences, give us a call. Those aren’t being written down.

Mary Beth Denomy

Chair & Founder


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