With event organisers turning to technology and online solutions to avoid disruptions caused by Covid-19, suppliers say hybrid and/or virtual meetings are trending and will fuel their development even when the industry recovers.
Commenting on how Covid-19 could affect event organisers and participants, Veemal Gungadin, founder and CEO, GlobalSign.in, said: “Given the current situation and where things are going, I think companies should seriously start looking into virtual and hybrid events.
“It is impossible to predict the end date for Covid-19 and its repercussions. Investing in live streaming is a safe bet because there is an immediate need for it. But we also believe a whole new paradigm is going to emerge from this situation.
“A lot of people are going to experience organising, or attending, a virtual event for the first time and they will start looking at how it could replace some of their physical events or act as a complement.”
Gungadin shared that only a few small-scale Singapore government events were able to continue with a physical format – to communicate important messages – as there were only a few attendees and measures were in place to ensure participants’ safety. It was the same for some businesses too.
Such measures included health and travel declaration, temperature checks, more space between seats, and making sanitisers available.
Hybrid events, usually small in scale, he added, were also being live-streamed to a larger audience in parallel.
Gungadin said: “We did such an event last week (end-March) which was a briefing session at IMDA’s PIXEL on digital solutions to keep a safe and healthy workplace amid Covid-19.”
For Congress Rental, which has offices in Australia, Singapore and Indonesia, its point of difference is its Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) language solution, which helped Nuskin and ICANN proceed with international events in recent weeks.
According to managing director Jeremy Ducklin, RSI allowed interpreters to be remote from the event they were providing the interpretation/translation and the platform further extended to having the audience remote.
Ducklin said: “The ICANN event was a truly remote meeting with all the presenters in remote locations worldwide. At its peak, it had 690 people listening to their community forum session with many remarks complementing the online nature of the meeting and the language support that we provided.
“Similarly RSI was used for a Honda event where space was an issue,” he shared.
“We are now talking to one client with a requirement for an online AGM where the presenter and presentation need to be shown at the same time to 1,000-plus shareholders,” Ducklin noted, adding that enquiries and proposals for remote solutions have trebled in the past week.
But Kenny Goh, founder of Singapore-based event tech company miceNEUROL, said event organisers must look beyond just the end product or the broadcast portion.
Goh – a proponent of event tech “integration” – pointed out: “There many piecemeal solutions for virtual MICE. Many like Zoom, YouTube, etc focus on the last-mile solution – the broadcasting solution.”
But there are few integrated event tech companies that start from accreditation and registration, or even start from contact management. As such, Goh cautioned that even though the tech solutions are in place, the systems integrators are not, which may bring about serious consequences.
“When there is a problem, the broadcasting media may blame the registration company, the registration company may blame the accreditation company which may blame the onboarding system, which may blame the AV supplier which may blame the telco. That is the problem,” he explained.
Claiming that the implementation of integrated virtual conferences and exhibitions is “low cost”, Goh has been spending time educating event organisers instead of deploying its systems over the last few weeks.
For some organisers, going hybrid is a defence strategy and Goh observed that the Covid-19 pandemic could provide the opportunity to lead event organisers to adapt, adopt integration and succeed.