The world of hospitality has been drastically impacted by COVID-19, especially when it comes to the MICE industry. Most companies replaced business trips with online meetings, which seized the operations of a large revenue stream to hotels, their convention centers and meeting halls. As the industry started to get back into its business track, hospitality establishments were forced to pivot and adapt to the new market requirements to gain back this market share; hybrid meetings saw the light. Here’s a recap of what hotels are offering.
Accor announced its collaboration with Microsoft to launch ALL CONNECT, a new hybrid meetings concept supported by Microsoft Teams. This new concept will enable guests around the world to adapt to the new ways of working that are expected to be an enduring legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-five percent of Accor hotels with meeting rooms are already providing hybrid meetings solutions to their clients. Launching in April 2021, the new ALL CONNECT concept will ensure Accor hotels can provide a fully enriched experience, which resets the bar on the hybrid meeting experience. Accor’s ambitious target is to achieve 100 percent of its hotels with meeting rooms comply with the new hybrid meetings standard by 2022 across all brands, from economy to ultra-luxury worldwide. This new offering will enable corporate customers and meeting planners to combine physical in-hotel meetings with virtual interactions across multiple locations simultaneously. Meetings will take place on the Microsoft Teams platform, where attendees can connect and engage virtually. In Accor meeting spaces, Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub 2S will connect people on-site to those joining remotely with industry leading audio and video device experiences. People can easily present content and see virtual participants as if they were in the same room. With this solution, Accor guests and their meeting attendees can come together through professional, inclusive meeting experiences, from wherever they are. The concept will focus primarily on small meetings (eight to 50 physical participants) and customers will benefit from the expertise of dedicated teams, Accor’s meetings and events experience, and a seamless digital booking platform. Distinctive and bespoke meeting programs and experiences will be available to attendees who can also expect the highest sanitary and safety measures as part of the ALLSAFE expert vetted protocol co-developed with Bureau Veritas. Research by Accor shows that 50 percent of physical meetings planned by the company’s Meetings & Events customers in 2021 will switch to virtual formats and that 70 percent of respondents see hybrid meetings as an important service in the future.
Hilton is introducing a set of Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions. The new suite of offerings, which will continue to evolve, directs event planners to Hilton’s hybrid-ready hotels while also providing them with planning resources – including an expanded Hilton EventReady Playbook and flexible customer offers. With each meeting and event experience delivered by dedicated team members, as part of the Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions, participating hotels will have access to comprehensive team member training resources to build and strengthen their knowledge in hybrid events. The expanded Hybrid Events chapter of the Hilton EventReady Playbook – which will include detailed case studies, pro-tips, a glossary of hybrid event terms and more – will also be available in English and accessible to customers working with any hotel within the Hilton global portfolio. The portfolio of hybrid-ready hotels will spotlight the baseline requirements that customers should expect when hosting a small hybrid event, which include:
- IT Readiness: Each hotel will have undergone an evaluation to assess the available IT bandwidth and infrastructure of the hotel to meet the requirements of small hybrid events. To be deemed “hybrid-ready”, hotels are required to have a minimum amount of incremental and available bandwidth that is above and beyond the hotel’s average circuit utilization level. This requirement allows for seamless communication and connectivity to optimize the hybrid experience within the hotel while providing easy access for virtual attendees.
- Multi-Site Offering and Express Agreements: These incentives enable customers to book the in-person portion of their event at multiple hybrid-ready Hilton locations as well as create a more seamless contract experience.
- Expanded Playbook: While the EventReady Playbook is available to customers globally, those looking for in-depth information on planning and executing small hybrid events can access the expanded Hybrid Events chapter, which will continue to evolve alongside customer needs.
As part of the Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions, Encore (formerly PSAV) is offering several event technology packages created for small hybrid events at participating hotels in addition to Presentation Stages™, a production-ready event solution equipped with critical broadcast technology and staging equipment that helps elevate event messaging and engagement. Presentation Stages offer a clean and safe pre-built location to produce, record and/or broadcast a high-quality online event far exceeding production values available from the typical home or office. The Hilton properties equipped with event technology will accommodate between two to six onsite presenters and up to 50 in-person attendees.
Hyatt kicked off its hybrid meetings to cater to current market needs. The chain’s new hybrid meetings solutions include broadcasting content with ease to meeting rooms across multiple hotels, allowing attendees to safely connect and engage, facilitating gatherings ideal for up to 15 attendees per location, and scaling for significantly larger groups. The chain guarantees that the process of multi-destination meeting planning is smooth for the clients and seamless for their attendees. The planner can benefit from one dedicated sales professional to help cover the logistics – across all the Hyatt locations chosen for the event, continuity in pricing across all meeting locations, as well as flexible solutions compatible with any web-based platform that allows for easy setup and no additional software. Attendees will benefit from streamlined all-in-one video conferencing allowing everyone to see, listen, and contribute with ease, professional setup that fosters a comfortable environment for effortless interactions, and return to in-person meetings with reduced group sizes and minimal or no travel or allow remote attendees to join the meeting from home. Guestroom rates start from USD 99, daily delegate F&B package for USD 99, and multi-venue, multi-networked communication for USD 2,000.
In 2020, IHG Hotels & Resorts introduced its Meet with Confidence program to support the changing needs of meeting planners. Now, as the world prepares to safely return to travel, the program has expanded to include resources, technology and tools for hybrid events. These hybrid capabilities can simultaneously connect multiple hotel locations to regional and global business and leisure events through live streaming, creating more shared experiences for virtual and in-person attendees. To further enhance the program, IHG has formed partnerships in the U.S. with Wellness 4 Humanity, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. and weframe. These partners will offer solutions, including rapid onsite Covid-19 testing, customized food and beverage experiences and technology to enable digital collaboration. IHG’s enhanced Meet with Confidence program supports successful conferences and events and is designed around five pillars to include all aspects of planning and execution: Clean and safe environment, simple contracting and planning, flexible offers and rewards, hybrid events with tech support and bandwidth, and great F&B options. Bookers and planners can choose from two hybrid events solutions – Smart and Expert – to plan the right experience for in-person and virtual attendees across one or multiple locations: Smart Solution: The Smart Solution is available at participating IHG Hotels & Resorts globally, except in Greater China. IHG Way of Clean: At the core of the program, with enhanced cleanliness, social distancing and safety measures implemented at all hotels. Onsite rapid Covid-19 testing: Provided by Wellness 4 Humanity, testing solutions are available as an option for meeting planners. Digital collaboration technology: Provided by weframe to increase collaboration amongst meeting attendees, weframe One, an interactive 86′ touch screen, is a cloud-based technology allowing onsite and remote participants to work collaboratively. The Expert Solution: Initially available at nearly 100 hotels in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia, planners can choose to upweight the Smart Solution with additional services, including:
- Virtual technology experiences: Planners can utilize a full suite of hybrid meeting capabilities allowing in-person and virtual attendees to connect, in addition to advanced audio-visual production and multi-venue linking.
- Curated food and beverage experiences: Williams Sonoma has an exclusive catalogue of specialty food, drinks and dessert experiences for virtual attendees. Delivered to offsite attendees, this gives all participants a shared meeting experience with opportunities for personalization.
The Smart Solution, available at participating hotels, features a flexible offer for events booked by June 30, 2021 that meet or stay by December 31, 2021 and are 10 – 50 rooms on peak, with no cancellation fees, no attrition fees for rooms that are not booked, up to a 5% rebate towards the master bill, IHG Business Rewards for planners and bookers, and streamlined contracting through use of a short-form contract.
The Expert Solution includes all these benefits, but is enhanced to a flat five percent rebate towards the master bill and a streamlined planning template for multi-location events.
Alternative venues play a key role in the recovery of the meeting and event industry and will require major adjustment from hotels when hosting meetings or conferences and getting back to in-person functions. To lower the risk for event planners and to add a layer of security, Kempinski Hotels are enhancing their set-ups by focusing on health and safety protocols, social distancing arrangements, as well as adaptations in food and beverage service. Reducing points of contacts, new room and seating configurations respecting the minimum distance between delegate and the allowed number of delegates per square meter, keeping tables apart, putting floor markings to indicate social distancing from each other, disinfected pens and bottles are only a few measures taken by Kempinski hotels.
More meeting and event professionals have been looking to plan hybrid virtual/in-person meetings and events as the meeting industry adapts to new ways of connecting during the global pandemic. However, meeting and event professionals often require additional information about technology, health protocols, and logistics available to them. Marriott International is offering innovative solutions to help Connect with Confidence and streamline the current planning process. New resources for hybrid meetings and events, including providers and pricing, are now available at Marriott hotels across the United States and Canada, and are slated to be available globally in the near future. Hybrid meetings have become an essential way for meeting and event professionals to provide an immersive, engaging experience that integrates both virtual participation and in-person experiences through technology. Marriott has curated a list of providers including Encore, Cvent, Convene, MeetingPlay and Hopin that offer technology solutions for hosting hybrid meetings. These providers offer a range of features and services that allow meeting and event professionals to execute hybrid meetings across the Marriott portfolio of hotels in the United States and Canada. “As the industry navigates this evolving meetings environment together, Marriott is proud to offer meeting and event professionals new hybrid meeting and event solutions, as well as our own best practices and learnings from our hybrid events,” said Tammy Routh, senior VP, global sales organization for Marriott International. “We know that meeting and event professionals are currently looking for insights and resources that will help them plan creative and innovative experiences for their customers regardless of whether they are in-person at the hotel or logging in from their home. Meeting and event professionals can work with these leading technology providers to reach a larger audience and incorporate speakers from other locations as they continue to plan future meetings, conferences and events.”
Radisson Hotel Group
Radisson’s approach combined a business-minded, innovative, and an eco-friendly approach. It initiated Radisson Meetings, a global partnership with First Climate, one of the world’s largest carbon offset organizations, that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create positive social impact. With the 100 percent carbon neutral meetings objective, the group is the first to turn emissions into impact. By automatically offsetting the carbon footprint for every single meeting and event taking place, Radisson Hotel Group offsets more than 38,300 CO2e tons, which is the equivalent of taking 8,300 cars off the road, per year. Encouraging meeting planners to support the cause and make sustainability a part of their meeting, Radisson Hotel Group aims to be the brand of choice for sustainability minded and environment friendly meetings. While the future of meetings is yet to be written, it will likely include a combination of live and virtual meetings frequently combined in the same event. The past year has forced many companies to explore work-from-home options, relying heavily on Wi-Fi, streaming, and an increased demand for hybrid meetings. By curating intimate events in local areas with hybrid function, that not only require less to no travel and are actually safer for attendees, it allows companies to reduce environmental impact at the same time. “The demand for hybrid meetings has increased exponentially over the past months and we are pleased to be able to meet the requirements of our guests and partners within the new norm. Hybrid Meetings are a great solution for many companies, as attendees can join the meeting from another country, their homes or even their local coffee shop. Hybrid solutions however, is not only convenient, it also provides a great opportunity for any organization to progress its sustainability mission, as the carbon footprint is greatly reduced without completely eliminating true human connection.”, said Tim Cordon, area senior vice president Middle East & Africa, Radisson Hotel Group.
With professional technical equipment from Steigenberger’s technology partners, the client can combine both event options and inspire participants in a new format. With Steigenberger Broadcast Studio, clients can hold professional panel discussions, product presentations and live recordings. Furthermore, they can discover the chain’s hotels in advance during a Virtual Live Tour or make a virtual appointment with a professional and experienced event team for further arrangements. Events are planned in detail and carried out exclusively in compliance with official regulations. Guests will have a maximum flexibility of cancellation conditions, free cancellation possible until seven days before arrival (valid for all events up to 20 persons with departure until 31.05.2021 – on request and subject to availability), and the provision of a larger event room according to availability.
In collaboration with their virtual event streaming partners, Wyndham Hotels offer the opportunity to elevate the quality of digital meetings with many options stimulating interactive participation. The chain’s hybrid event solutions enable interactive participation. They also provide flexible meeting design with physical distancing, dedicated Hybrid Meeting Expert for every meeting and pre-event technical rehearsal. The hotels also provide online team building solutions. Participants are divided into different meeting rooms to guarantee social distancing. Planners can earn 1 Wyndham Rewards point per USD 1 spent on qualifying revenue with our go meet℠ program. Plus, both in-person and virtual guests can earn points with this limited-time points offer available for the first 10 meetings booked.