First hybrid UIA APAC Round Table concludes successfully

Telepresence avatar robots allowed speakers to engage with in-person attendees. Photo: Kathryn Worthley

The Union of International Associations’ recently held its first hybrid Asia-Pacific Round Table, where the event offered advice for associations keen to up their game, and insights for meeting organisers as they navigate Covid-19 impacts on operations.

The event was attended by in-person delegates in Tokyo and online delegates across the region, on October 21–22, at Congres Square Nihonbashi.

Telepresence avatar robots allowed speakers to engage with in-person attendees. Photo: Kathryn Worthley

Local host Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) carried out stringent anti-infection measures including Anshin Gate, which checks a person’s temperature and sanitises their hands and feet in one motion. The technology, which was used at Tokyo 2020, is slated for release by Panasonic next year, with strong sales expected for large venues. Another of the company’s yet-to-be-launched systems, which scans a space and analyses how crowded it is, was also utilised.

Speakers at the event said Covid-19 continues to present opportunities for innovation and challenges in hosting events, engaging with members and reaching new audiences.

“Planning became more important to all of us on a professional, personal and organisational level because of Covid,” said Belinda Moore, director at Strategic Membership Solutions. Fellow company director Julian Moore said Covid-19 has also resulted in a huge shift in expectations for sponsors, which now require virtual and face-to-face event elements as well as, electronic engagement and measurable results.

Chris Dingcong, managing director of Springtime Design, said there has never been a more important time for associations to “level up their brand identity”, pointing out that uncertainty on identity will lead to difficulty building a brand and therefore influence.

At the event, telepresence avatar robots were provided by iPresence, allowing speakers to engage with in-person attendees during break times.

Chris Christophers, founder and CEO, said their use “provided more complete interactivity to remote participants, creating truly hybrid experiences.”

To give participants a feel of the host city, TCVB featured videos on the online portal. They included “Tokyo in a Day,” which explored five neighbourhoods with a tour guide; a sushi experience with a fourth generation chef; a presentation of Nihonbuyo Japanese classical dance; and an introduction to iaido, the martial art of the sword. There was also a virtual green teatime from Tokyo, where attendees could learn about “the magic of green tea and its place in Japanese culture.”

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