If you stay perfectly still for a moment, you may hear a distant cheer. That’s likely the roar of happiness meeting strategists all over the world let out as 2022 finally ended. For some it was yet another year that could not end soon enough. For others, life carried on, albeit a life that is different than it was in 2019.
New phrases like, “Zoom Fatigue” and “hybrid meetings” are now part of our lexicon while we explore new ways to bring face to face technology to in person meetings. There are benefits to hybrid events for sure; less time and money dedicated to traveling, the ability to virtually attend meetings that were once impractical or difficult to attend now being part of the calendar, and more opportunity to learn, network and share.
As strategists we now need to pay attention to the, “meeting within the meeting,” to ensure the online attendee experience is more than an afterthought. One of the upsides to hybrid meetings is the need to stay on a schedule as people may be joining for a particular session or speaker. Gone for many are the days of juggling what’s happening in the ballroom with what needs to happen in the kitchen to get food out on time. Gone too are the spontaneous breaks that pop up allowing attendees to hit a break that is in the middle of being set up.
When strategically planned, hybrid meetings increase revenue as well as overall attendance, add sponsorship opportunities, improve virtual tradeshow traffic and can give speakers additional exposure. Hybrid meetings can add time, money and attendance to events, so what’s not to love?
According to strategists around the world, plenty.
Face to face meetings will never replace shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye. Our gut reaction to meeting someone in person versus an online interaction is enormous Anyone who has tried online dating knows that someone who felt like a potential match while chatting on video may give off a very different vibe in person. And just as it’s ill advised to buy a house after only seeing online photos, virtual site tours are never going to accomplish what an in-person site inspection does.
And so begins the battle. How do strategists impress upon their stakeholders that hybrid events are not always the best option and that sometimes the only way to achieve the event goals is to be face to face? Think about how absurd it would be to have a virtual incentive trip. Forget the impossibility of it from a details perspective. How can the feeling of celebration and appreciation be enjoyed if not in person? Sales meetings are much the same way. Camaraderie is built from spending time with others.
Teamwork is just a ‘to do’ item when experienced virtually. The “atta boy/girl, great job” praise resonates in person but rings hollow online.
Then there’s the sales aspect of live vs. virtual meetings. Business is about relationships. Sales are often driven first by the “who” is doing the selling and then the “what” is being sold. While truly great salespeople could sell ice to an Eskimo, the sale may still happen if the relationship is all technology based, but it will likely take longer to do it. Time is money so what’s the real cost savings when that is factored into the dollars saved by not traveling to a tradeshow or meeting?
Technology plays a critical role in overall meeting quality for both live, virtual and hybrid events.
Look for our next issue to get insight into how to harness the power of today’s online meeting technology without having to go back to school.
In 2001 Christy Lamagna founded Strategic Meetings & Events (smeplanners.com), a strategic planning firm which produces goal-driven corporate meetings, worldwide. In 2015, she launched SME Displays (smedisplays.com) a tradeshow and display company which brings SME’s quality of service and attention to detail to display sales worldwide. The SME team’s ability to bring to life her vision for a planning firm that is second to none while creating experiences for SME’s clients is her proudest accomplishment.
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