In the second part of our series with Henrietta Balint, Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Radius Travel, we get into the details on the fundamentals of a “damn good” virtual meetings strategy.
Because of COVID-19, virtual meetings have become a short-term strategy. How do organizations convert their short-term work into a more long-term strategy?
Many companies have had to pivot to virtual for different types of meetings and have learned a great deal already. This intelligence is critical in terms of how long-term strategy is built and how those learnings can be applied to support hybrid or fully virtual events in the future. It’s important to review existing meetings strategies if you have one in place. If you don’t, now is absolutely the best time to create one.
A strong policy that addresses virtual meetings is important. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of risk, process management, and policy control. It’s likely those policy elements wouldn’t have been addressed in the short-term but can help from a long-term point of view.
We’re all moving at an accelerated pace to accommodate customers and the needs of the industry. There’s a tremendous amount of expertise out there. We work with many clients who are aligning organizational priorities and stakeholder engagement in the virtual meeting world. We can share best practices that we’ve seen across client groups and in the industry.
What does a virtual meetings strategy look like in 6 months to a year?
I think we will see more organizations actually having a meetings strategy. Those that have a meetings program already in place will be focused on virtual hybrid events and having a framework and structure that supports risk and compliance requirements. Over time, the agreements with venues will become stronger around contract terms and conditions, particularly requirements around health and safety protocols and force majeure. When you’re sourcing for a venue, I think those kinds of requirements will need to be addressed upfront.
To ensure you continue to have overall visibility into your meetings program, create a process around how you actually gather data. At the same time, you should also align your registration and invitation processes. If people aren’t comfortable with attending face-to-face events or if you want to reach a broader audience, enable your audience to choose their own way of participating in your event without being disadvantaged. Taking these steps will increase your chance for a successful attendee experience.
How might a hybrid virtual and in-person meeting solution work for an attendee? How about for a buyer?
Hybrid meetings are here to stay.
We know that there are certain things that you can very successfully achieve via a virtual setting, and in some cases, that will be enough. We still have to work through getting back to ‘normal’ and what that looks like, but there is pent up demand. I know, personally, that I never thought I would miss a crowded airport, airplane, or a conference floor.
What will it take for travelers, attendees, and an organization to feel comfortable traveling? Some companies have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, which will likely reduce their budgets. Hybrid meetings absolutely need to form a part of any meetings management program moving forward.
There is a benefit to hybrid meetings. It allows you to reach a larger audience group. It allows people to have the same “experience,” whether it’s a virtual or in person one.
The challenge is that, in a hybrid setting, you are essentially planning two different meetings.
You need to plan for two different user experiences and processes, so it’s important to also bring them together and create a similar feel, which you can do via engagement tools, the registration process, and polls and surveys. You should consider the use and application of technology when building your meetings strategy – both are key to a successful hybrid meeting.
What is the benefit of working with a company that specializes in virtual meetings solutions and strategy?
Speaking specifically from a Radius Meetings and Events perspective, our expertise and learnings with other customers in how you avoid common pitfalls and our ability to guide successful outcomes is a significant benefit.
Working with a company like ours that supports the entire meeting cycle and what a program will allow for a more comprehensive approach and holistic view of what the best practices are. And it doesn’t mean that you use us specifically 100%, it’s about how can we help support customers in that consultative way, and share best practices to deliver the desired outcomes for them. We have some fantastic expertise and our network around creative, around virtual, around strategic planning. I think it is absolutely crucial to utilize that expertise, to create the right strategy.
Are you ready for a damn good virtual meetings strategy?
We’re ready to help! We’re offering a FREE virtual meeting strategy consultation with our team of experts to help you get started on your virtual meetings journey the right way. Visit our virtual meetings site and connect with a virtual meetings strategy expert today.
Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Radius Travel
Heni has a wealth of experience in both M&E and transient travel, having spent more than 20 years in commercial travel management company roles covering both sectors. A native Australian, Heni has lived and worked in Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America, and currently resides in the U.S.