For a large majority of professionals in the United States, the past 19+ months have been a series of virtual calls, webinars, and conferences due to restrictions on in-person events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we saw a greater return to some in-person events in 2021, and we anticipate an even greater return to in-person meetings in 2022 as vaccines and new therapeutics for COVID-19 continue to roll out, a new normal involving virtual and hybrid meetings seems to have emerged. Below are some things to consider to make sure your meeting plans are solid going into 2022.
Hybrid and Asynchronous Meetings Will Be the Norm
73% of event planners think hybrid meetings will continue to be more common in the future. Live meetings conducted with a virtual component; hybrid events are essentially the best of both worlds. For those unable to travel or who are still uncomfortable with large gatherings, hybrid meetings let them get in on the action. There’s also the possibility of asynchronous meetings—recordings made for participants to view at their convenience. While you’re unable to get real-time interaction, many companies are recording asynchronous content to reach an even wider audience. You need a meeting company that can do both. At AVAIL, we have deep experience with hybrid meetings and asynchronous content and can help you engage attendees anytime, anywhere.
Flexibility is Key
When negotiating with meeting planning companies and venues, flexibility is everything. Venues are sensitive to the fact that things are still uncertain, and meetings can be cancelled or moved the moment new mandates are passed or an outbreak occurs. While we believe things will continue to become more stable in 2022, you need a meeting planning partner that can navigate those difficult contractual negotiations that have only become more complicated in the era of COVID.
Safety and Guest Comfort is Paramount
Mandates and local ordinances vary widely across the country. AARP has a great resource on the different mandates state by state. The CDC also has guidelines for events and large gatherings and although they’re currently archived and haven’t been updated since May, they’re worth keeping in mind. Overall, it’s important to keep guest safety and comfort as your North Star. For example, meeting attendees at a conference in Omaha, Nebraska, might have different expectations and requirements when it comes to COVID protocols than an audience at a meeting in downtown Chicago. Keeping all of this in mind results in a more productive meeting and a better experience for your customers.
Whether Live or Virtual, Engagement is Key
At the end of the day, the most important thing for a meeting to be is not just safe, compliant, and convenient, but engaging. Facilitating engagement is the key to getting your meeting plans in order for 2022. For example, if you’re executing a hybrid meeting, keep the online audience engaged through poll questions and personalized breakouts. Shore up your best practices around training speakers and slide presentation. At AVAIL, we’re committed to leaning in and championing experiential, innovative, exciting approaches to how we conduct business—from immersive technologies to unique room configurations.
Need a meeting planning partner that can expertly manage logistics while offering a fresh approach to meeting execution? Contact AVAIL today!