(PDF) Hybrid Events: Mediating Collocated Participation

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HYBRID EVENTS: BREAKING THEBORDERSTransferring your hybrid event into an engaging and inclusiveexperience for different audiences and stakeholdersLAB UNIVERSITY OF APPLIEDSCIENCES LTDMaster of Business AdministrationDegree program in International BusinessDevelopmentSpring 2020Linda Nilsson
AbstractAuthor(s)Nilsson, LindaType of publicationMaster’s thesisPublishedSpring 2020Number of pages63Title of publicationHybrid events: Breaking the BordersTransferring your hybrid event into an engaging and inclusive experience for different audiences andstakeholdersName of DegreeMaster of Business Administration, Degree Program in International Business Devel-opmentAbstractThis thesis explores hybrid events and how they can be made into an engaging expe-rience for different audiences and stakeholders. Changes in the factors affectingchoosing of a conference location due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be reviewedand what that will mean for the face-to-face and virtual meetings moving forward.The main goal of this study is to produce beneficial information and recommendationsfor event organizers, Messukeskus Helsinki and other conference venues on how toplan engaging hybrid events.The primary data sources for the empirical study was a survey where event industryprofessionals answered questions regarding situation before and after COVID-19pandemic and what it could potentially mean for the industry. Expert professionalswere interviewed after the results came in to gain insights on the research questions.The aim of the qualitative method was to find out more about the hybrid events andhow they can be made engaging.The findings indicated that hybrid events will be the new norm in regards event organ-izing moving forward and for those events feel engaging, there needs to be interac-tion between all stakeholders. This paper will only be dealing with part of the study re-sults that are relating for the subject at hand. Further research will need to be con-ducted to get a deeper understanding on how other industries could be helping in un-derstanding different stakeholders.KeywordsEvent, Hybrid, Engagement, Stakeholders
CONTENTS1INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................... 2Background ........................................................................................................ 2Purpose of the study ........................................................................................... 2Research methology and limitations ................................................................... 4Thesis structure .................................................................................................. 5Source critisism .................................................................................................. 62LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................. 7Decision making factors when choosing a conference location ........................... 7Bidding for conferences ............................................................................... 7Event tourism ............................................................................................... 7Virtual meetings/ events...................................................................................... 8Description of different kind of virtual events ................................................ 8Choosing between Virtual and face-to-face meetings/ events ...................... 9Virtual meeting formats ...............................................................................10Fears towards hosting event online ............................................................11Hybrid meetings/ events ....................................................................................12How can hybrid events include different audiences and stakeholders? ..............13Sense of belonging .....................................................................................13Gamification................................................................................................13Different audiences and stakeholders .........................................................14Event Design ..............................................................................................15Interviews with the engagement specialists ................................................193SURVEY AND EXPERT INTERVIEWS ....................................................................20Survey ...............................................................................................................20Interviews: Descriptions of the professionals chosen .........................................21Research method ..............................................................................................21Limitations of the study ......................................................................................22Reliability of results ............................................................................................224RESEARCH RESULTS ............................................................................................23Factors affecting decision making when choosing a location .............................25Hybrid events .....................................................................................................28Including your different audiences when planning a hybrid event .......................315FINDINGS ................................................................................................................35Engagement ......................................................................................................37
Possibilities and limitations on virtual/hybrid events based on professionalinterviews .....................................................................................................................386CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .........................................................40Summary ...........................................................................................................40Validity of the study ............................................................................................40Recommendations .............................................................................................40LIST OF REFERENCES ..................................................................................................42APPENDICES..................................................................................................................45Appendix 1: GMID Goes Virtual poll results 14thApril 2020 ..........................................45Appendix 3: LinkedIn post published 4thMay 2020 .......................................................48Appendix 3: Facebook post published 5thMay 2020 .....................................................49Appendix 4: Post published 5thMay 2020 on MyMPI Online Forum (members only) ....49Appendix 5: Survey ......................................................................................................50
1ABBREVIATIONSMPI = Meeting Professionals InternationalCVB = Convention and Visitor BureauFCB = Finland Convention BureauICCA = International Congress and Convention AssociationGMID = Global Meetings Industry DayPMI = Project Management InstituteMICE = Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, ExhibitionsCOVID-19 pandemic = ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease caused by severe acuterespiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)CSR = Corporate Social ResponsibilityFIGURESFigure 1: Poll results about how live events change after the crisis is overFigure 2: Structure of this thesisFigure 3: Choosing virtual over face-to-faceFigure 4: Options for virtual meetingsFigure 5: Event Canvas planning processFigure 6: Event Canvas Empathy MapFigure 7: Survey participants by location on a mapFigure 8: Survey result on attending in-person is content also onlineFigure 9: Survey results on how much willing to pay for online conferenceFigure 10: Importance of communication from an eventFigure 11: Years in businessFigure 12: Involvement/ role in the industryFigure 13: Results of pre -and post pandemic choosing factor importanceFigure 14: Change in the process of choosing a location after pandemicFigure 15: Word map on the results of change in choosing a location post-pandemicFigure 16: What kind of events were planningFigure 17: Survey results on if will plan hybrid events moving forward post pandemicFigure 18: Is your company set up to start having hybrid eventsFigure 19: Opinions about virtual/hybrid meetings cannibalizing the Face-to-FaceFigure 20: Cost of hybrid event compared to face-to-faceFigure 21: Ability to network in online conferencesFigure 22: Survey results about virtual/hybrid meetings cannibalizing face-to-faceFigure 23: Engagement in online eventsFigure 24: Analysis of the responses on how to engage attendees onlineFigure 25: Image of the sponsorship opportunities in virtual eventsFigure 26: Survey results on the importance of factors effecting decision making beforeand after pandemicFigure 27: Survey results on the types of events done before and after pandemicFigure 28: Possibilities and limitations on virtual/hybrid events
21INTRODUCTIONBackgroundAn event is a carefully crafted experience delivered to make an impact on the person inattendance. Regardless of the type, event planning requires people who can design theevent, manage human and material resources, plan strategically, conceptualize the logis-tics of event, manage time effectively, and forecast and budget finances. (Greenwell et al.,2019). Events have a big role not only in networking, learning, sharing and experiencingbut they also impact the economy. Scientific and professional conferences gather profes-sionals from different fields to share their latest knowledge, and festivals will create lifeand sense of community to even smaller places. When a city gets a big event, such as aninternational conference, the monetary value of that event spans all over the workforce,restaurants, accommodation, tourism and advertising. Therefore, countries, cities andvenues are always competing for international congresses (see e.g. www.uia.be/history).The brand and image of each location will either support or undermine its reputation as areliable, interesting, and professional place to organize a conference.Path of the modern event industry has not always been smooth, and it has faced manychallenges in its short history. These include terrorist attacks, SARS, major upheaval inthe global insurance industry which has led to the industry having to adopt strategies formanaging the risks of events. As we entered the mid 2000’s, the specter of climatechange began to affect the industry as the world became increasingly aware of the threatof global warming. Environmental sustainability became a key event management con-cept, with green initiatives adopted to reduce the environmental impact and the carbonfootprint of events. (Allen 2012, 10)Purpose of the studyFinland’s biggest event venue, Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Center, re-quested research on their competitiveness in bidding for international congresses andwhat are the reasons that Messukeskus (Helsinki, Finland) does or does not get chosen.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the focus and direction of this study shifted from confer-ence bidding. As the events industry was one of the first industries directly affected by thepandemic due to governments banning gatherings and events as well as events beingcancelled around the world, (Yle 2020) the researcher felt it to be important to look at thefuture predictions as they would be relating to both face-to-face and virtual meetings andwhat this would mean for the future of conferences.
3The COVID-19 pandemic was the main driver for change and forced the events industryto re-evaluate the way that they do events. The researcher has worked in the events in-dustry and been part of it for over two decades, as well as has a broad understanding andexperience from both local and international perspectives. Due to the COVID-19 pan-demic situation, there was a personal interest in the subject to try to look past it and seehow the industry itself will be able to recover from it.In 2018 ICCA conducted a survey that showed that digitalization will continue, with tech-nology forming a larger part of service provision and business development. This is some-thing that ICCA members had understood and prepared for with investments, but no onewas prepared for the speed of this technology leap that needed to be taken due to theCOVID-19 pandemic.The researcher took part on an online event held on the 16thApril 2020 as 12,500 profes-sionals from the event and hospitality industry gathered virtually to commemorate GlobalMeeting Industry Day (GMID). There were participants from around the world (Canada,USA, Mexico, India, Argentina, United Kingdom, Philippines, Colombia, Singapore,Kenya, Portugal, Croatia, Malaysia, Brazil, Finland, Denmark, etc..). This event was alsoan attempt to break the world record, which was not reached but also to gather the indus-try together and show support for one another during this shocking time of the pandemic.During this half hour online event, there were some questions asked from all the at-tendees as a pole and it was one question that affected the direction of this study for theresearcher. It was about how will live events change after the crisis is over? From the7086 poll respondents 62% predicted that most events will become hybrid as well as 17%predicted a greater demand for virtual events once the crisis is over. (GMID Goes Virtual2020)Figure 1: Poll results about how live events change after the crisis is over (adapted fromGMID Goes Virtual 2020, appendix 1)
4The researcher saw these results and results from a study in 2012 by Fryatt et al. (2012)showing similar results with 70% thinking that hybrid events will be important in the futureas an important indication to look further into hybrid events. These were the reasons whyhybrid events became the focal point of the study. Further information on the results of thepoll can be found in Appendix 1 (Slido Infographics 2020). Thesis objective and researchquestionsThe main objective of this thesis is to study hybrid events and how they can be made intoan engaging, inclusive experience. Changes in the factors affecting choosing of a confer-ence location due to the pandemic will be reviewed and what that will mean for the face-to-face and virtual meetings moving forward? To find answers to these questions and tobe able to present some predictions, questions were asked from event industry profes-sionals.The objectives of this work are as follows:Firstly, the knowledge base of this study will have a short introduction to different forms ofvirtual events. Secondly, the hybrid event form will be focused on. Thirdly, the results willgive further insights for Messukeskus and other event organizers on how to make surethat different stakeholders (remote and in-person) are being taken into consideration whenplanning an engaging hybrid event. Based on these objectives, the following researchquestions were formulated:RQ1. How can a hybrid event be transferred into an engaging experience?RQ2. How to include your different audiences and stakeholders?This study will be focusing on finding answers on how to make the hybrid event into anengaging experience as well as how to include stakeholders into them as well. For thisstudy, event professionals around the world were asked to answer a survey on how thefuture of the event industry might look like post pandemic. The final research strategy con-sists of qualitative survey, individual interviews from industry professionals, as well as ma-terials from books, publications and articles. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, no face-to-faceinterviews were conducted. The interviews were conducted and recorded with an onlinetool called Zoom.Research methology and limitationsQualitative research was chosen as individuals’ perceptions of the future of the events in-dustry were asked and to explain the results and to understand the current solutions in theconstantly changing environment. To represent the critical areas of factors affecting
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