Hybrid events take centrestage in Malaysia’s MICE recovery: industry leaders

As Malaysian borders remain closed to overseas event delegates and venues continue to operate at only half their capacity due to Covid-safe measures, industry players in the country believe that hybrid events will continue to dominate the format of business activities taking place in the new year.

At the recent BE@Penang hybrid event for the business events community, Ashwin Gunasekeran, CEO, Penang Convention Bureau, highlighted the positives of hybrid events, such as allowing local and foreign delegates who could not attend in-person an opportunity to attend virtually.

From left: Place Borneo’s Mona Abdul Manap, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s Abdul Khani Daud, Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s Ashwin Gunasekeran, BESarawak’s Amelia Roziman, with virtual speaker Sabah Tourism Board’s Noredah Othman

He observed that hybrid events have improved much since the early days of the pandemic, with content-enhancing elements such as holograms getting more commonplace. He expects virtual experiences to only get better as technology improves, allowing organisers a chance to leverage technology to meet event objectives and enhance the delegate experience.

Malaysia’s recent entry into the Hybrid City Alliance, alongside four local city representation from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, emphasises the country’s commitment to positioning herself as a knowledge capital and to supporting multi-city hybrid conferences.

Speaking on the matter, Abdul Khani Daud, CEO, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with other cities around the world to do multi-city hub events.”

Fellow panellist, Sabah Tourism Board general manager, Noredah Othman shared that being part of the Hybrid City Alliance would help the tourism board expand its network and learn from established cities, especially in terms of hosting successful hybrid events.

These industry leaders presented their observations and projections at a panel discussion, The Big Picture: Business Events 2022 & Beyond Outlook.

While the future of hybrid events remains promising, moderator Mona Abdul Manap, founder and CEO, Place Borneo, said such events receive much smaller financial support from convention bureaus as compared to in-person events.

She called on convention bureaus to change their mindset, as hybrid events could market a destination and entice virtual delegates to visit the destination in future.

In response, Amelia Roziman, CEO, BESarawak, said the state convention bureau provides equal support for hybrid and physical events. However, BESarawak is currently conducting a study to understand how it could support virtual events and the deliverables expected from hybrid meeting planners.

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