image credit: FWI
No doubt about it--the meetings and conventions industry took an enormous hit due to COVID-19 restrictions. The industry practically shut down for most of 2020, as meetings became virtual and participants attended meetings on laptops in their living rooms.
The good news is that after a year of significant disruption and hardship, the meetings and events industry is seeing a brighter picture than this time last year. In-person events are beginning to resume slowly, but surely, as travel restrictions are beginning to lift. A March 2021 Northstar Meetings Group Pulse Survey revealed that about 81 percent of planners polled said they’d hold their next in-person event in 2021.
According to the 2021 Global Meetings and Events Forecast from American Express Meetings & Events, small and simple meetings will be the most common types of event in 2021. The expected meeting length for in-person events ranges from 1.5 days for these small, simple meetings to 3.1 days for incentives and special events.
But transitioning from virtual to in-person or hybrid meetings isn’t like flipping a switch. Hotels and convention center and event professionals are looking for guidance on how they can ramp up meetings while protecting the health of staff and attendees. And not surprisingly, they’re looking to solution integrators for the tools and technologies that will enable them to conduct safe and successful events.
Managing Virtual, Hybrid, and In-person Meetings
Meeting planners are adapting to the current environment by making the most of technology. While in-person meetings are starting to resume, planners will have to incorporate a virtual component for those that can’t get to the meeting. Hybrid and virtual meetings will take considerable planning, since these events involve more than simply live streaming a meeting. It’s important to provide an in-person event for live attendees while also ensuring that those who can’t get to the live meeting can also participate.
But whether an event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid, the American Express research found that the attendee experience is critically important. For virtual events, planners still need to engage participants and make sure the technology works on everyone’s systems, and they need to consider program length and design.
For attendees at live events, expectations for communication are higher than ever. Participants have to know about schedules, transportation, lodging, what they can expect upon arrival for health and safety screening, how meals and events will be conducted, the precautions suppliers are taking, and also what they should do if they feel ill.
Optimizing guest communications
Distributing meeting information in a timely manner is the key to success for any event. Properties can use solutions such as digital signage and intelligent wayfinding to broadcast conference schedules and help guests efficiently find meeting room locations. Digital signage is also useful for registration, check-in, and welcoming. Connecting digital signage to the cloud can give properties additional flexibility and capabilities.
FWI® SUITE, a comprehensive digital signage solution from Four Winds Interactive, is designed to help properties win event business and deliver great attendee experiences once participants are on the property. An Intel® IoT Market Ready Solution, FWI SUITE includes a configurable takeover application to enable properties to quickly customize screens during site visits and configure meeting room signage. It also includes reader board applications to showcase events and promotional content, an interactive virtual concierge application, a guest room TV solution, and more.
Image credit: FWI, at Courtyard by Mariott
FWI SUITE also includes Content Player and Content Manager Software, ten viewer licenses for mobile application, and player configuration support. Its Integration Framework allows solution providers to integrate various data sources. Add-on services such as onsite installation and creative services are also available. Hardware includes Samsung QMR Series or LG SM5KE Series displays, meeting room signs powered by an Intel Atom® processor, and Windows-based media players that use the Intel® NUC platform, available with an Intel® Core™ i3 or Intel® Core™ i5 processor and up to 8GB of DD4 RAM and a 128GB hard drive.
Also included in the solution is the FWI Cloud, a content management tool delivered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It gives properties the ability to deliver personalized experiences, manage content, and change messaging on the fly.
Discover how intelligent digital signage can help deliver great meeting attendee experiences: