Most people need confidence to feel comfortable attending events again, and according to many industry executives, that won’t happen until there is a widely available vaccine or more therapeutics. That said, our industry has come to adapt to that – and find a way to connect through the creation of content studio space, and the support of hybrid and virtual meetings. Hotels are investing in audiovisual and technology equipment to allow not only individual guests to work at hotels but also enhance additional meetings connectivity. Thus, giving us the example of in-person groups in multiple cities connected in a single hybrid meeting. Many major hotel chains are already on board with this, and have been for months now. That said, we send BIG kudos to these hoteliers for finding creative solutions to use this technology so that we, as planners, can continue to host events in a safer way.
According to Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company, “broadcasting is very different than in the past. It’s not just a simple webcam. It’s sophisticated TV broadcasting. And what is interesting is seeing engagement going up. The nice takeaway is that we’ve reached larger audiences, and I hope that stays.” Let’s look at some examples. To start – the Marriott brand, at select locations, is now offering Virtual Meetings by Marriott Bonvoy Events. They say this is a great way to keep your teams connected across multiple locations when they can’t meet in person. Guests will have cutting edge technology, supported by their network of hotels to reduce administration with just one invoice. You basically choose a hotel in the Marriott network and they will facilitate satellite locations on your behalf at a per person price (half and full day rates available).
The Wyndham and the Radisson hotel brands are also both touting new hybrid and virtual programs. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is rolling out a program at some of its European hotels to allow hybrid meetings among separate conference rooms at the same hotel or among hotels in separate cities. So a small group can meet, socially distanced, in one conference room and get the benefits of in-person connections, while also meeting remotely with co-workers from other offices. Radisson is also focused on seamless delivery for hybrid meetings, with their top-notch technology. For more complex needs, a planner can choose from their leading technology partners or they can collaborate with any planner’s preferred AV supplier.
In October 2020, Loews Hotels introduced their own new approach to virtual and hybrid meetings with “StreamLine by Loews.” This is a brand-wide approach to host gatherings for groups (large and small) looking for innovative new ways to connect (either in person, all remote, or a hybrid of both). “At Loews Hotels, we provide intuitive service, local expertise, culinary creativity and state-of-the-art technology to co-create meetings and events for our clients,” said Alex Tisch, President, Loews Hotels & Co. “Our offerings are nimble in order to proactively cater to our customer’s ever-changing needs. ‘StreamLine by Loews’ is a deliberate virtual meetings experience aimed to exceed the expectations of groups looking to assemble in any way they desire.” The program offers two options: “Virtual Meetings Your Way” and “The Virtual Presentation Stage”. “Virtual Meetings Your Way” offers the same attention to detail whether your meeting is virtual or in-person, or a hybrid of both. Program highlights include: 15% off best available rate for presenter and production guest rooms, 10% food and beverage discount across the hotel, Meeting space rental $1 per square foot, no cost for outside production company (restrictions apply). The second offering, available at select properties, is “The Virtual Presentation Stage.” Loews Hotels has partnered with PSAV to offer turn-key state-of-the- art technology studio spaces, featuring built in technology that can deliver professional footage in a staged environment, with the ability to broadcast globally. Packages begin at $5,000+, with price varying based on production requirements.
“Normal” is always evolving anymore. We will continue to move forward because we have to. Start planning for both an in-person and online experiences, and make the best of both – in a safe, secure way. We’ll continue to educate and network in our industry, as we always have, and we will always find a way to do so. Why? Well, as many have said before, we are all in this together! Technology and the power of people will continue to light our way.