In a recent press release, Hilton emphatically stated that hybrid meetings and events will be "critical in the near-term" and announced a set of Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions.
The new suite of offerings directs event planners to Hilton’s hybrid-ready hotels while also providing them with planning resources – including an expanded Hilton EventReady Playbook and flexible customer offers. Participating hotels will have access to comprehensive team member training resources to build and strengthen their knowledge in hybrid events.
The Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions will begin rolling out globally this month. Additionally, the expanded Hybrid Events chapter of the Hilton EventReady Playbook – which will include detailed case studies, pro-tips, a glossary of hybrid event terms and more – will also be available in English this month and accessible to customers working with any hotel within the Hilton global portfolio.
The portfolio of hybrid-ready hotels will spotlight the baseline requirements that customers should expect when hosting a small hybrid event. In part, this includes "IT Readiness" which means that each hotel will have undergone an evaluation to assess the available IT bandwidth and infrastructure of the hotel to meet the requirements of small hybrid events. To be deemed “hybrid-ready,” hotels are required to have a minimum amount of incremental and available bandwidth that is above and beyond the hotel’s average circuit utilization level. This requirement allows for seamless communication and connectivity to optimize the hybrid experience within the hotel while providing easy access for virtual attendees.
As part of the Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions, Encore (formerly PSAV) is offering several event technology packages created for small hybrid events at participating hotels in addition to Presentation Stages™, a production-ready event solution equipped with critical broadcast technology and staging equipment that helps elevate event messaging and engagement. Presentation Stages offer a clean and safe pre-built location to produce, record and/or broadcast a high-quality online event far exceeding production values available from the typical home or office. The Hilton properties equipped with event technology will accommodate between two to six onsite presenters and up to 50 in-person attendees.
To learn more about this initiative, HT reached out to and spoke with Kelly Knowlen, executive director, Sales Engagement and Special Events, Hilton in an exclusive Q&A.
HT: When you think of Hybrid Events, what do you visualize?
Knowlen: As we talk about our new hybrid event solutions, we are really focusing on small hybrid meetings or events. By small, we mean collaborative gatherings of up to 20 attendees – regardless of in-person and virtual attendees. As the event size grows beyond 20, both in terms of onsite and virtual attendees, the event complexity increases, as do the required resources.
In regards to how to visualize, as with in-person events, each event will be tailored to the specific customers, so specific “run-of-show” details will vary.
That said, that’s why we saw a need to expand upon the Hilton EventReady Playbook Hybrid Events chapter. There are so many nuances to consider when planning a hybrid meeting, so this updated section aids our event planner partners with preparing for their specific event and includes detailed case studies, pro-tips, a glossary of hybrid event terms and more.
HT: For how long do you think Hybrid events will be a part of our culture?
Knowlen: Our planner partners have indicated that, while in person events will return, hybrid events are critical in the near-term due to a number of factors, including costs, travel, time and convenience.
The future of hybrid events, like our current Hybrid Solutions, will continue to adapt to the changing needs of the industry and our customers. These expanded solutions, especially the expanded Hilton EventReady Playbook, feature the feedback and learnings from 2020 hybrid experiences and are intended to further improve future 2021 events.
HT: Any other comments?
Knowlen: There is no replacement for the value of in-person events. Business, networking, and relationships are all formed and strengthened when we can be together face-to-face. Because virtual aspects of events are here to stay for the foreseeable future, hybrid events are a much-needed strategic option for event planners, even when in-person events again become the norm.
Our goal is to provide a suite of resources needed to foster an environment where our customers feel confident hosting, at least partially, in-person event experiences.
Virtual events can leave attendees with “screen fatigue” and, as such, are limited with time and content. Hybrid events offer a solution, giving attendees opportunities to further relationships, network face-to-face and for virtual attendees to interact with in-person attendees, providing engagement beyond what is typical for a solely virtual event.