The meeting and events industry clearly experienced a great deal of change over the course of the last 16 months. An industry filled with incredibly talented people who were singularly forced to be nimble and adaptable can now learn from each other to accelerate our industry’s exciting (re)start with the right event solutions.

For Encore, we see the need to act fast to best support our customers and industry partners.

Events that were fully virtual last year are now shifting to hybrid, sharply accelerating a movement that had been developing over the last decade. The strong return of in-person events presents the opportunity to capture the irreplaceable benefits of face-to-face while not losing the advantages offered by virtual platforms.

To best fulfill our company purpose to ‘Connect & Inspire People,’ we often share insights and education about the changing industry paradigm and the production models and solutions available for any kind of event experience.

Our recent strategic partnership announcements with Cvent and Intrado are based on the fundamental belief that we are all better together and collectively can better serve customers’ needs.

Identifying Problems to Create Solutions

We have heard loud and clear from our planner partners that “hybrid” events most often feel like planning two events. And it is clear in order to realize the benefits associated with virtual audience extension, this must change. We also understand that they have been challenged to find the right platform and production partner for any event.

The simple goal of the three industry leaders is to make it easier for event planners to transition from all virtual to hybrid through a single end-to-end solution, connecting in-person with remote attendees through an integrated experience.

As we streamline services and solutions, we are continually learning from one another. This same work is helping Encore accelerate the development of new solutions and best practices that will remind our communities of the power of business events.

By streamlining event planning and execution and simplifying the number of partners a planner needs to engage, they can remain focused on their event while fulfilling the need for a multi-faceted event format more easily and cost effectively. Encore now offers a full range of world-class platform solutions across the event spectrum, for any meeting type, scale or complexity to integrate with the proven event production capability and expertise that has earned us a trusted event industry leadership position for decades.

A Solution that Fits the Bill

Cvent’s Attendee Hub self-service event solution for smaller events, Intrado’s studio-quality production event solutions for larger meetings and tradeshows, and Encore’s proprietary Chime Live platform in the center of those hybrid event needs, allows us to deliver exactly what you need to meet your event objectives. It also gives Encore the opportunity to recommend the right solution every time, whenever, wherever, and however you choose to meet.

When we rebranded to Encore earlier this year, we did so with the motivation to simplify our story so customers could more easily get the best of our many solutions. Our partnerships with Cvent and Intrado reinforces this aim. It is not lost on us that both companies felt Encore was the only production partner that matched their respective platform leadership positions with our production capabilities and onsite scale and experience. It keeps us motivated to press forward with solutions that best fit our customers’ needs.

We are passionate about leading this exciting, evolving, and ever-changing industry to thrive again. On behalf of our thousands of team members around the globe, welcome to our Encore.

The Purpose behind the Meeting and Events Industry

It remains amazing to think about all that has transpired over the course of 2020. The world experienced an incredible disruption to how we did just about anything. The shock to both our personal and professional lives came suddenly as we were forced to adapt to new ways of operating.

Against this backdrop of social distancing, however, the value of human connection and the benefits of community are only more appreciated. And in this way, there is an opportunity for the meeting and events industry to play an important role in the recovery from this global experience. I have been inspired by our industry’s resilience – we did not sit on our collective hands, waiting for the health crisis to pass in order for us to meet again. At PSAV Encore, we are motivated by our purpose to “connect and inspire people to better our world.” The focus on this ‘why’ we exist has always been more important than the ‘how’ we deliver against that purpose.

Signs of Growth – This Is How

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We have embraced a recovery with new solutions and innovations to help our customers achieve their goals. Importantly, we are starting to see some green shoots as evidence the tide is turning. First, many of our customers are pushing technologies further to support more engaging virtual or hybrid events. Second, and it may come as a surprise, we have produced nearly 10 thousand in-person events for customers all over the world these last few months. Both are positive signs for how our industry is adapting to a changed world.

One way PSAV Encore has shifted to virtual and hybrid is through the development and use of Presentation Stages™. These are remote presentation environment solutions that bridge presenters and attendees together in a pre-built location to produce, record and broadcast an online event. Then there is Chime Live, our proprietary all-in-one platform that offers multiple engagement tools to connect virtual or hybrid meeting attendees with each other and the presenter. And we have become more effective in connecting live in-person meetings with remote attendees to achieve an expanded audience. Please know we are doing it all consistent with our industry-leading MeetSAFE practices, ensuring we always keep our customers and team members safe.

We Are Meeting

We know that every organization is eager to re-engage with their stakeholders. Building communities, ensuring alignment as we plan for a new year in 2021, and creating opportunities for those moments of serendipity when people gather. We can all think of a situation where an unscripted conversation or chance encounter with a colleague served as the spark for the next big idea. It may be a bit longer before more things can return to the way they were, but all is not lost. We can still connect. We can still inspire. We can still meet. It may be different from what we were used to, but the meeting and events industry is here to help keep those big ideas coming.

To learn more about how PSAV Encore’s virtual and hybrid event capabilities can help your organization connect, click here.

The current environment across the globe has presented the meetings and events industry with a clear focus on virtual opportunities. As a result, there are some natural questions that come to mind. Are virtual meetings the new normal? Will they ultimately replace live meetings? And, can people do without face-to-face events?

The answer is understandably nuanced.

Technology to deliver virtual events continues to improve and offers a credible alternative in an environment where people cannot physically gather. Dramatic increases in use of webinars, livestreams – even the reality that ‘Zoom’ is becoming a verb – all demonstrate that virtual events are thriving. And with more of us becoming comfortable with the medium and more thoughtful in how to design virtual events, we will absolutely see an increased use in purely virtual meetings as well as hybrid events, even after governmental restrictions on public gatherings are lifted.

But this does not mean face-to-face meetings can be fully replaced. At their core, meetings and events are meant to connect and inspire people. This happens not just in general sessions or breakouts, but also in moments of serendipity on exhibit floors and the social networking times outside the formal program. According to Meetings Mean Business, 84 percent of executives agree that team productivity is at its best when people meet face-to face. We learn, change, and innovate when we are together. This is due to real value we all get from human connection.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Our world is certainly forever altered. Virtual meetings will have their place and all of us need to learn how to leverage technology to increase the opportunity that our meetings can connect even larger audiences. Face-to-face meetings will also continue to have an important role as virtual cannot satisfy the purpose of every event. The opportunity for us all is to understand how to create hybrid events that give attendees the best of both solutions in order to multiply the impact of our meetings.

On Global Meetings Industry Day on April 14, 2020, I sat down to discuss this topic in detail with Tara Higgins, President at Hargrove, Tricia Rawh, Executive Director of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation’s Center for Education, and Jim Huss, Director of Employee Events at Intel. We discovered that now, more than ever, we’re positioned with a wealth of tools at our fingertips to go virtual. But as we move forward, when is the right time to use which format? It boils down to strategy and purpose.

“Now our toolbox is bigger,” said Jim. “Now we have more ways of accomplishing things. Sometimes that’s a great thing, sometimes that’s daunting because – which one do I choose in which situation. But if you start getting very clear on what the purpose and goals of your events are, I think that leads you down the right path for what technologies to deploy.”

Tricia agreed, astutely stating that “meeting objectives will have to drive the delivery method whether that’s virtual, in-person or a combination of both.”

There’s an opportunity for all of us to have louder voices around advancing the strategic goals of our organizations with the right combination of virtual and in-person for our events. The time to start these conversations is now.

Advancements in technology have certainly made our lives easier in many ways, including how we choose to meet. Thanks to videoconferencing solutions like Skype, Zoom, WebEx (among others), employees across the globe are able to connect without even having to take a step.

But despite the convenience of virtual substitutes, in-person events are still the preferred way to meet for an optimal experience. In fact, according to Meetings Mean Business, 84% of executives agree that team productivity is best advanced face-to face. And the answer to why that is, is quite simple: the human connection.

At their core, meetings are meant to bring people together. Every year, PSAV – in partnership with Meetings Mean Business, EIC, MPI, and PCMA – celebrates Global Meetings Industry Day, highlighting the impact that meetings, conferences, conventions, and trade shows have on people, businesses, and communities.

As part of this international day of advocacy, my colleague Mike Leone, Chief Commercial Officer of PSAV, and I hosted an industry panel to discuss the value of face to face meetings and their human impact. Panel members included Cori Dossett, President of Conferences Designed, and John Mitchell, Vice President of Business Development for MC2.

Key takeaways of the panel centered on harnessing the power of community, ideas, and solutions to business challenges that can only be born at meetings, and how their impact is so much stronger when we meet in person and build off the energy in the room.

Cori kicked off our discussion, addressing the notion that so often, ROI mistakenly becomes the only objective of meetings – ignoring the human element. “It’s more important to also think about the community aspect and bringing people together face to face and how important that truly is. And building the member community and creating a unity within.”

John further reflected on the value of these in-person discussions, pulling from his own experience. “When I first started my career, it was about the internet, and the internet was going to kill the meeting business. But it doesn’t because we’re always going to be human. There’s nothing that’s ever going to replace the value of me sitting next to you, seeing you, getting to talk to you, getting to see the challenges that you’re going through, empathize with you, and then creating a solution from that. So, I think it’s the human spirit of the meeting businesses always going to be there and that’s what really drives our business today.”

Ideas are an organism that grow when we’re together. When we gather for a common purpose, we unleash the power for human potential. For more on this topic, check out the full panel discussion below. To view our video for GMID, click here.