Meeting Newz January / February 2021

[ PCOA R EV I EW H Y B R I D AN Live at Hyatt Regency Sydney, and beamed into Auckland and other venues during the PCOA conference... Geoff Donaghy, ICC Sydney; Maggie Diasinos, Hyatt Hotels; Andrew Klein, speaker; Michael Magafa, Encore Event Technologies, and Nick Bartlett, MC during the conference. Photo: Janette Lewis, Altus NZ; Michael Stokoe, Tourism New Zealand; Louise Ryburn, Celebrity Speakers New Zealand; Paul Walker, Convention Management New Zealand Paula Leishman on the big screen during a panel discussion at the PCOA conference in December T revor Gardiner, chief executive officer of Centium Software, says hybrid is ‘not a transitory thing or a pivot’. He says it is actually a natural evolution, but due to the pandemic it has been compressed into a short amount of time. “Australia and New Zealand are leading the way on how a hybrid event can work – we are so far ahead of the world when it comes to this.” The PCOA event was itself an illustration of how quickly things have developed in this market. Delegates got together in a Professional conference organisers need to ‘shout from the rooftops’ about how successful business events are being held right now. They also need to relook at how to engage (and for how long) with clients, sponsors and trade exhibitors. ‘Our role as PCOs is to work with our clients, translate the level of confidence we are seeing in holding events and show them the way,’ says Paula Leishman, managing director at Leishman Associates. ‘Hybrid is probably here forever, so we need to look at all the opportunities it brings.’ Leishman says conferences used to be like a ‘pop up’ experience. ‘We would bump in and set up, hold the event then break it down at the end of three days and it would be over. It is important that PCOs continue the engagement piece well after the physical event.’ Leishman, who is based in Tasmania, says that as well as making the event engaging for both the in-person and virtual audience, it is important to encourage connection by attendees with sponsors and exhibitors – ‘ E V O L U T I ON ~ NO T A P I V O T ’ Message to PCOs ~ shout success from roof tops before, during and after the event. The PCOA conference was held in multiple venues across Australasia (including the Park Hyatt Auckland) and streamed live to virtual attendees’ offices and homes. number of locations, including Park Hyatt Auckland, and content was streamed live to all of them as well as to virtual attendees tuning in from their homes or offices. Panellist Michael Magafa, of Encore Event Technologies, says a number of clients are ‘on the brink’ of booking hybrid events but they need confidence around the technical side and safety assurances for the in-person meetings. “Hybrid is here to stay, not only because of the restructuring (around the pandemic) but also because people are seeing it has its own benefits. Nothing will replace face Hybrid conferences will become as standard in the business events world as online registration and event apps have, according to a presenter at the Professional Conference Organisers’ Association (PCOA) Conference in December. [34] meeting newz [january february] 2021