The future of hybrid meetings and events

Our recent Linkedin survey revealed that over 50% of travellers currently prefer to attend business meetings via a video conference rather than in-persons, and this view is supported by our global survey. Here’s what we know now, courtesy of BCD Meetings & Events.

The return of face-to face meetings

‘Studies show that face-to-face conversation is an important aspect of a teams’ communication context and is essential in regulating teams’ cohesion and attitude. Overall, in-person communication reduces the negative effect in teams working together, and those teams that meet face-to-face more frequently may make greater use of electronic communication.

Across generations in the workforce, people overwhelmingly prefer face-to-face meetings when communicating with colleagues. Similarly, over 80 percent of both Gen X and Millennial employees say that communicating through face-to-face meetings is critically important to maintaining relationships at work and greater than the phone, email, instant messaging, texting, social network sites, and video chat.

Fortunately, with the emergence and rollout of effective vaccines, there is a positive outlook for staff returning to office settings to complement the virtual collaboration that continues to take place.

Currently, about 4% of customers are conducting face-to-face events, which is slightly lower than in autumn 2020. Given the number of challenges, organizations must navigate to proceed with in-person meetings, the varied state of conditions across the globe, and the ongoing rollout of vaccines, this isn’t shocking. Customers tell us the biggest obstacles to returning to face-to-face are the same ones they faced at the start of the pandemic. They include:

  • Social distancing while
  • traveling and on-site at events (17%)
  • Rapidly changing regulations (15%)
  • Quarantine upon arrival and return (13%)
  • Health risks when attendees return home (13%)

Most customer views reflect a more prevalent return to face-to-face in Q3 2021 or later.

The future of hybrid meetings and events

Virtual experiences and hybrid models are fulfilling a need previously not there. Over 50% of customers say 20% to 30% (or more) of smaller, internal events that shifted to virtual or hybrid will not shift back to face-to-face. Hybrid meetings integrate the in-person experience and the virtual one, but now that we are used to virtual events, our threshold of what needs to be in person may have changed, and your event will be viewed through this new lens. In the future some events will be better in a hybrid format, some may need face-to-face to be most successful, and others may be good options to remain virtual-both now and in the future. By aligning your event strategy to this new way of thinking, you will maximise engagement across your entire event portfolio.