What will hybrid events and exhibitions look like post-Covid?

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A much more than million-dollar question kicked off the content at Event Tech Live this morning.

Piers Bearne, founder and CEO of Collingwood Advisory, was in the chair, with panellists Tony Craddock, founder of the Emerging Payments Agency, Carina Bauer, CEO of at IMEX, and, live and direct from Australia, Chris Carroll, founding partner and CEO of the Eventful Group,

Tech played ball, after a slightly shaky start, and Bearne got the panel talking about their experiences, or learnings, from the Covid ‘experience’.

Forced to cancel a big event in Melbourne just five days from doors when Australia called for lockdown, Carroll’s take was the most dramatic. How he and his team had to communicate fast with the 1,000 people due to attend and faster still with the international speakers, some of whom were already en route for Melbourne.

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From there, Eventful made the big decision to take everything digital – a thus far periphery terrain for the company – and not to plan any face to face events until 2022.

Carina Bauer and Tony Craddock were on the same virtual page, by and large, about keeping live events out of the picture through 2021 and making their businesses as comfortable and productive in the meantime.

And when live does come back, with its inevitably hesitant physical numbers looking harder than ever to justify the journey – together with telling numbers watching online – an even newer normal is around the corner.

“Simply broadcasting a live event has never been good enough and still won’t be,” Carina Bauer said. “Digital is 24/7, 365 days – you can structure it differently. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time as the live event.”

Sitting alone in his office, topically, unoccupied terminals visible in the background, Tony Craddock explained how he too moved as fast as he could to rethink/reinvent the Emerging Payments Agency member experience in lockdown. Deploying “virtual, digital technology” behind training, seminars, awards and conferences for the membership.

“It’s not so much about the tech, it’s about getting people to create magnetism around the content.”

As Piers Bearne said in his introduction to the session, this was a headline set opening virtual ETL 20. A really good split of engaging information and opinion from around the event world – quite literally.

There isn’t a short answer to the question – but one of the many things I took away from this is how organisers and their teams have to shape their own hybrid rather than simply ticking the option on the menu.

Extraordinary content like this, at the top of day one, emphasises Event Tech Live’s capacity to think around a blind curve and keep delivering at a level commensurate with its best in-person incarnations. Stay tuned. 

Event Tech Live continues tomorrow, register here

Sam is the assistant content manager for Event Industry News (EIN). Sam is involved in publishing news stories, videos and podcasts. Sam also collates the latest stories for the EIN e-newsletter. If you have a press release or story you think we might be interested to know about please email editor@eventindustrynews.com