COVID-19 put a halt on Singapore’s event and meeting industry earlier this year. But as many industries have done during this pandemic, it has adapted to find creative solutions that reimagine what a safe and high-quality business event can look like. Many previously planned events have thus been moved into the virtual world. More specifically, companies are exploring the viability and benefits of hybrid events.
Despite the many hurdles, the Singapore Tourism Board is preparing for the calibrated and safe resumption of B2B events in the coming months. It will trial its new framework at two business events that will take place in Singapore over the next two months with a physical on-site presence of 50 people each. These will be the first physical gatherings to be held since March due to the circuit breaker and stay-at-home orders. However, the key difference with these two events will be that they will be hybrid events. This means there will be a mix of face-to-face and virtual interactions.
But why hybrid events and not simply virtual events? Continue reading below to discover the benefits of hybrid events and their place in a post-COVID-19 world.
STB’s Risk Management Framework
First things first, let’s go over the Singapore Tourism Board’s protocols for strict safe management of an event. As an event organiser you need to ensure that your event follows all of these regulations:
1. Infection control measures for every stage of the journey of a person attending your event
2. Limits on crowd density
3. Limits on close contacts between attendees
4. Ensure a safe and clean environment
5. Prepare emergencies related to COVID-19
There is also a strict limit of 50 attendees at any live event.
As mentioned, there will be two trialed events in the coming months – 2020 IEEE International Conference on Computational Electromagnetics on August 24-26 and Asia Pacific MedTech Virtual Forum 2020 on September 24. Both will have an online element, which is expected to draw 1000 people each. This online aspect is designed to to complement the physical panel discussions and networking activities.
If these events run smoothly, it is possible that STB will allow similar B2B events that can implement the above guidelines to slowly resume. They are currently working with Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers to formulate an Industry Resilience Roadmap that will give the MICE (Meetings, Incentive travel, Conventions and Exhibitions) sector needed guidance in planning for recovery.
Benefits of Hybrid Events
But why is the industry exploring the use of hybrid events? We know that physical B2B meetings and events are crucial platforms for company communication. They can also be a key source of lead generation for some businesses. However, there is a high cost to hosting these events – from hiring the venue, purchasing insurance, hiring of personnel for the event, etc. Plus, there will always be a maximum attendance of visitors, whether it’s due to geographic reasons, timing, or safe distancing.
However, with the evolution of computers and phones, companies can look to move events into a virtual environment. Here costs are reduces and the potential profits are much higher. But in a fully virtual event, companies lose out on the benefits of physical interactions. This is the gap that hybrid events fill: companies can have a physical and online experience simultaneously.
In a hybrid event, attendees can join lectures and workshops either face-to-face or online. Companies will showcase the event either through a live transmission or creating a virtual environment that replicates the physical event. Of course, this latter option will involve more logistics and higher costs as it requires virtual reality tools, but it is one avenue to make future events more innovative and engaging.
The key benefits of hosting a hybrid event are:
- Companies can catch attendees who would have otherwise been unable to physically be present
- Companies can reduce the cost per attendee and save attendees on travel costs by offering an online solution
- Obtain data-driven lead tracking and monitor level of engagement to make post-event follow ups easier
- Drive ROI post-event as you can continue to reuse webinars and other digital content or make them available on-demand to extend their life further
In short, hybrid events present an integral lifeline for event companies navigating travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and various lockdown stages.
Hybrid Events Post-COVID-19
But how about when we go back to normal? Well, the reality is that we don’t know when that will be. Whether you have an event scheduled for November 2020 or March 2021, it’s best to start thinking about how to adapt it into a hybrid format. This is because the number of people willing to attend initial live events will likely be limited. Whether it’s due to physical space limitations, company budgets for event attendance may be cut, people wary to travel, etc.
Plus, hybrid events will allow you to expand your reach even when larger physical events are allowed. So, even if COVID-19 sped up the adoption of digital capabilities for events, it’s likely that event organisers will continue to explore the use of hybrid events.
As businesses aim for recovery and prepare for what the new normal might look like, now is the time to look at new technologies to address new attendee needs and preferences. These regulations can be replicated for other events as well, such as weddings by including an online element for those who physically couldn’t be present. You can check out our latest blog post on unique wedding venues in Singapore or if you’re looking for another type of venue for rent in Singapore, browse our extensive inventory to find your ideal one.