With hybrid formats starting to shape the future of meetings, the virtual and hybrid event technology — provided by the event production company PSAV — at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the connected Hilton Cleveland Downtown gives organizers a compelling reason to choose the Ohio destination for upcoming events.
“A big benefit to working with a single AV provider between the hotel and convention center is that there will be a single point of contact to plan the entire event,” said Erika Morales, regional sales director for PSAV.
The company expects the hub-and-spoke model for meetings — when one main “hub” venue with presenters and a small number of attendees broadcasts to several satellite “spoke” locations with small groups of attendees, as well as to virtual attendees at home — to grow even more popular both in single cities and multiple cities. “When working with an AV provider that has a global footprint, planners will have a more streamlined planning process knowing they can connect all attendees, regardless of location, with a local team,” Morales said.
Organizers planning for a Cleveland-based event can expect that kind of seamless experience as they create something special for their attendees whether they are onsite, in another venue or city, or virtual. And, according to Morales, prioritizing the attendee experience is what it’s all about.
“Planning a hybrid event can be like planning two separate meetings,” she said. “It is still important to ensure whether onsite or remote, that each attendee is fully engaged and feels integrated with the event experience.”
PSAV has worked with its Cleveland venues on hybrid events that, for the onsite attendees, have one display showing the remote presenters and attendees, a second display for meeting content, and a camera setup that allows all remote attendees to feel like they also are present at the “hub.”
“This allows onsite and remote attendees to interact with each other and see all attendees, presenters, and content,” Morales said.
Morales offered other tips for organizers planning a virtual or hybrid event.
Give Yourself Time
“Start your planning process as early as possible. Virtual event platforms can take a few weeks up to a few months to develop. This gives planners and customers time to develop the right solution with their event experience partner and discuss plans A, B, and C if needed.”
“Continue to be open-minded and creative when planning a virtual meeting experience. Just about anything you would want to do in person can be altered and accommodated in the virtual and remote space,” Morales said. “Many fear that remote attendees will not feel like they are a part of the true meeting experience with all of the organic networking and team-building opportunities that happen onsite. There is a ton of great group activities that can be incorporated such as virtual escape rooms, virtual photo booths, chef demos, mixology, wine tastings, and talent shows, to name a few.”
Make Sure the Space Is Flexible
“Attendee comfort levels and requests can fluctuate daily. Having flexible space where the venue and technology partners can work together to make sure there is ample space between on-site attendees, but they still are able to receive the important message, is key,” Morales said.
Consider and discuss room layouts, traffic flow, touchless technical options, and cleaning routines for hybrid meetings. Both the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the Hilton Cleveland Downtown put these health and safety considerations first.
“PSAV has worked closely with our venue partners to incorporate our MeetSAFE guidelines that assist us in working alongside you,” Morales said. “Together, we will develop recommendations to reduce risks, increase confidence, and promote health within the meeting space.”