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Sunday, 13 December 2020
With many countries being forced into another lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are not many places currently welcoming global travelers and large events. Dubai is one of them as local meetings were re-authorized from September 15th and international events from October 1st. With a generous offer in terms of venues, it might well be THE place to host events in the Middle East right now.
The largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai’s eclecticism is reflected in the juxtaposition of artificial islands, Arabian Gulf beaches, theme parks, futuristic shopping malls, and ancient souks.
When you host your event in Dubai, you have access to a wealth of luxury hotels, exciting nightlife, world-renowned restaurants, and various attractions.
But with almost 400 hotels available, it can be challenging to figure out which one will be best for your event.
We have your back!
In this post, we will share with you five of our favorite hotels in Dubai.
Crowne Plaza Dubai - Deira
The Crowne Plaza Dubai - Deira is located in the financial district around Deira, about 6 miles from downtown Dubai, close to traditional souks, and 14 minutes away from Dubai International Airport. One of IHG’s flagships in Dubai, the hotel features more than 15,600 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Al Thuraya ballroom can accommodate up to 1,200 people in a reception setup, while the capacity for the seven other meeting rooms varies from 70 to 250 people. Some of the meeting rooms can be combined to accommodate more guests.
Why we like this hotel:
They offer a dedicated point of contact for events and meetings, the Crowne Plaza® Meetings Director.
They guarantee a 2-hour response to RFPs.
The ballroom is pillar-free, so event planners don't have to worry about obstructed views.
The Taj hotel is located in downtown Dubai, near Burj Khalifa, 20 minutes away from Dubai International Airport. Although it doesn’t boast as many sq. ft. of meeting space as other hotels, the five meeting rooms can easily accommodate a variety of events, from executive meetings to conferences, cocktail receptions, or larger celebrations in the Opera Ballroom. This hotel offers excellent flexibility as it’s possible to combine two of the meeting rooms to get a bigger space or split the 5,000 sq. ft. ballroom into three separate areas.
Why we like this hotel:
The ballroom can be divided into individual spaces, giving the event planner more flexibility.
The hotel is located in downtown Dubai.
You can welcome your guests in the pre-function area before it’s time for the reception in the ballroom.
Grand Millennium Business Bay
The Grand Millennium Business Bay is located along the Dubai Water Canal and close to the city center. The hotel can accommodate events in 11 different spaces that can be split or combined depending on your event requirements. Indeed, the Al Amwaj Ballroom covers roughly 4,900 sq. ft. but can be divided into three different spaces with independent entrance and individual audio-visual equipment. The 10 Marasi meeting rooms are smaller but can be merged to achieve a bigger capacity.
Why we like this hotel:
The meeting rooms have access to an outside terrace overlooking the Dubai Canal.
Natural daylight is abundant in most meeting spaces.
The pre-function area, adjacent to the Al Amwaj ballroom and some meeting rooms, can serve as a welcoming space for your guests or as a breakout area for the meeting rooms.
Friday, 13 November 2020
In the age of COVID-19, shelter-at-home orders, and overall lockdowns, organizing in-person events has been on many event planners’ back burners. But events will come back, and event planners need to be ready and start venue sourcing as soon as possible.
For a long time, when it came to venue selection, the only option for organizers was to visit dozens of venues to find the right one for their next event. It was a time-consuming and costly process.
With the pandemic and large gatherings being canceled in most countries, event planners had to turn to virtual events, which do not typically require a venue selection phase.
However, after months of virtual meetings, it became apparent that attendees crave face-to-face interactions, and many have experienced what has been dubbed “Zoom fatigue.” Most people are eager to go back to meeting in person, and planners are already sourcing for future events, but how to do that when on-site inspections are out of the question?
Well, if the pandemic had one positive outcome for events, it might be the proliferation of online tools these past few months. Among them, virtual tours of venues seem to have a bright future as they can be of help right now and also reduce the time needed for venue selection when on-site visits are allowed again.
In this post, we will explore how virtual tours can help event planners prepare their next event.
What are Virtual Tours and How can They Help Event Planners?
Virtual tours are not a new concept, but they have become a lot more important since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to Wikipedia, “a virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images.” There are several options, both in terms of technology and convenience for the planner.
Virtual reality is one of these options. While virtual reality has been mainly used in games and entertainment so far, the benefits it can bring to the events industry are real. Some planners have already started using it to improve audience engagement during the event, and exhibitors are taking advantage of it for product demos, especially in the case of bulky products that can’t travel to the exhibition venue or fit in the tight space a booth usually offers.
One of the new areas of interest for virtual reality is venue selection. While on-site inspections will always be the best option, they are also time-consuming and expensive to organize. A virtual tour of the event venue could provide a suitable alternative by giving the event planner an accurate idea of the venue’s size and space distribution, the facilities’ convenience, and, overall, if the venue would be a good fit for the event the organizer has in mind. However, you need specific equipment to experience VR, and not all planners have access to VR headsets yet.
This is why a more accessible option for venues is to provide 360-degree and 3-D videos that can offer an immersive experience on any computer or mobile device. Planners can now select their venue without leaving the comfort (and safety) of their home and when it’s most convenient to them.
This brings us to the live vs. pre-recorded options for virtual tours. Some event venues are now offering live Zoom tours of their facilities to provide an interactive and virtual walkthrough of the event space. This necessitates a quite thorough process ahead of time, where the event planner has to share with the venue as many details as possible about the event. These live tours also have to be scheduled with both planners and venues.
On the other side of the spectrum, pre-recorded videos or images can prove more convenient for the planners, especially when they are in the first stages of venue sourcing. Organizing live tours will be more tailored but also more time consuming while browsing through a gallery of photos or 360-degree videos of the facilities can help narrow down the options when there are still many. Furthermore, pre-recorded options offer the planner the convenience to source venues on their own time, regardless of the venue’s scheduling constraints.
Why They Help Venues as Well
While planners need to find the tools that will help them organize future events, it’s even more critical for venues to offer all they can to support event organizers in their quest for the perfect event space. By doing that, they are really helping themselves as virtual tours seem to be the only way to source venues for at least a few more months. On-site inspections have become quasi impossible with travel plans canceled, lockdowns orders, or other social distancing measures. Venues who want to secure future business need to provide organizers with the vital information they need as they start planning upcoming events and help them envision the possibilities offered by the venue. Virtual tours can be of great help in that respect.
More and more venues are offering this kind of service, and most virtual tours are available on-demand. Planners can, for example, get a 360-degree view of the Noura Ballroom at the Convention Center & Royal Suites of Kuwait, explore the possibilities offered by the Burgan meeting room at the Hilton Kuwait Resort, or immerse themselves in the Amazing Room of the V Hotel Dubai, anytime they want, from the comfort of home.
Offering live videos can also serve as an interactive conversation where the venue can answer live questions from the event planner. But live walkthroughs, just like on-site inspections, can prove difficult to organize due to scheduling issues and require as much work as a regular on-site inspection as each visit will have to be customized to the planner’s specific needs.
Friday, 02 October 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly disrupting the hospitality industry, and hotel chains have to make changes if they want clients to come back. Here is a look at the measures taken by eight major actors in the sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt the hospitality sector one of its most significant blows to date. For months, hotels worldwide were either closed to the public or facing a sharp loss of revenue as people stayed home, either because they were being forced to by local legislation or because they thought it was the safer thing to do. Hotels couldn’t count on revenue from events and meetings either as most countries enforced a strict ban on gatherings that is still in effect to this day in some areas.
In the Middle East, global hospitality research company STR found that for April 2020, the occupancy rate was down to 31.2%, i.e., -58% from April 2019, with a revenue per available room reaching an unprecedented low at US$29.82, i.e., -72.7% compared to April 2019.
To survive, hotels have to tackle the many issues brought on by the pandemic. One of these issues is to reassure the public that it is safe to stay at hotels.
In this post, we will share how eight major chains have evolved in their processes to respond to these new challenges.
As part of their response to the pandemic, Accor Hotels have launched the ALLSAFE label vetted by Bureau Veritas, to communicate to their guests when hotels have met stringent cleaning and prevention standards. They are also working with AXA to offer guests medical support.
The main measures include enforcement of physical distancing, a strong focus on hand hygiene, screening for guests and employees (including temperature checks), mandatory face masks in indoor public spaces, an increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection, etc.
They also made their changes and cancellations policy more flexible, and now allow guests to make changes or cancel up to 24 hours upon arrival.
Accor Hotels implemented a few additional measures for meetings and events, including the management of check-in lines to promote social distancing. Room layouts and event set-ups are also modified to allow for physical distance, and outdoor space is used whenever possible. Hand sanitizer stations are made available throughout event spaces. Individual servings have replaced buffets. Finally, all touchpoints, including tables, chairs, etc., are to be disinfected between events.
Best Western Hotels and Resorts
In 2012, Best Western Hotels and Resorts launched their I Care Clean program to promote hygiene best practices across their properties. In 2020, they are building on this program to include enhanced cleaning protocols to respond to the COVID-19 challenge. The We Care Clean initiative addresses five key areas, front desk and lobby, guest room and housekeeping, temporary breakfast offerings, public amenities, hotel employees and staff requirements.
For the front desk and lobby area, measures include enforcing physical distancing, putting up best practices’ signs, frequently disinfecting touchpoints, removing magazines and papers, installing sanitizing stations and maximizing on contactless interaction with guests.
For the guest room and housekeeping area, the new protocol includes leaving rooms vacant for 24 to 72 hours after check-out whenever possible, removing items deemed non-essential, providing daily housekeeping only by request along with other health and safety measures.
New temporary breakfast offerings are implemented, including pre-packaged options, or served breakfast instead of buffet offerings. Depending on local legislation, breakfast rooms might be closed. If they are open, the layout has been modified to allow for physical distancing.
For public amenities, such as gyms, swimming pools, and meeting rooms, the new protocol includes a complete sanitization every evening using electrostatic fogging, ozone generators or ultraviolet devices, and availability of hand sanitizing stations in public areas.
Concerning hotel employees and staff requirements, they include using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), frequent hand-washing, disinfection of workstations after every shift, etc.
In addition, face coverings are now mandatory in the USA and Canada.
Finally, members of the Best Western Rewards program will benefit from greater flexibility, including extending their status through January 31, 2022.
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
Hilton has launched its CleanStay program, in partnership with RB, makers of Lysol and Dettol. This initiative focuses on four different areas, the guest rooms, housekeeping, public areas and amenities, and food and beverage.
In the guest rooms, this means removing all used items from the room, a full clean of the room, and disinfection of most used surfaces (switches, handles, etc.).
Housekeeping services are now on-demand (no more daily housekeeping).
For public areas and amenities, the new protocol calls for the presence of disinfecting stations throughout public spaces, hourly maintenance of high-touch areas like elevators and bathrooms, contactless check-in and digital key using the Hilton Honors app, physical distancing measures, and mandatory face coverings in indoor public areas for hotels in the Americas.
Finally, regarding food and beverage, the restaurants have been reconfigured to allow more space between tables for physical distancing, and new options are available, such as Grab & Go, or pre-plated and individually portioned options instead of buffet service.
For meetings and events, Hilton has developed a specific program, Hilton EventReady with CleanStay. This program expands the CleanStay program by addressing every touchpoint of the event experience.
Hyatt hotels have also upped their game through Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment.
An emphasis has been placed on cleanliness and safety with sanitizing stations placed throughout public areas, a higher frequency of cleaning for public spaces and guest room surfaces, temperature checks for employees and guests, and removal of certain high-touch items from guest rooms.
Social distancing measures include specific signage and revised maximum capacity guidelines for elevators, gyms, etc., as well as knock-and-go contactless room service.
Employees and guests are also required to wear face coverings, indoor and outdoor.
Finally, more options are provided to reduce contacts through the World of Hyatt app for check-in and checkout, grab-and-go meal ordering and other features.
For meetings and events, room set-ups have been reconfigured to allow for social distancing.
Inetcontinental Hotels Group (IHG)
Building on its 2015 IHG Way of Clean program, developed in partnership with Ecolab and Diversey, IHG has added new COVID-19 protocols and best practices.
The new measures include additional deep cleaning for high-touch surfaces, reduced contact at check-in and check-out, touchless transactions, availability of sanitizer stations throughout the properties, enforcement of social distancing, reduction of furnishings and items in the rooms, new laundry protocols. Face coverings are also required in all public spaces at IHG hotels in the Americas, starting July 27.
For meetings and events, the new protocols include a deep and more frequent cleaning of spaces, hand sanitizer stations scattered throughout the event space, the re-imagining of room layout and seating options to facilitate social distancing, and single-serve, pre-packaged meal options.
Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts
Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts have taken several measures to reassure their guests that they are taking all steps necessary to ensure their health and safety. Face coverings are now mandatory, health screenings (including temperature checks) are conducted for employees and guests, a two-meter physical distance is enforced in all public areas, fresh air supply has been increased in all public areas, only one guest is allowed per lift, public spaces are sanitized with increased frequency where high footfall occurs.
Rooms are also left vacant three days between guests, or if that is not possible due to high occupancy, they undergo a complete fogging process.
Buffets are no longer available to favor an à la carte offering, and physical distancing is de rigueur in dining rooms.
The cancellation policy has also been modified to allow for more flexibility, and guests can now cancel without penalty up to 24 hours before arrival.
Jumeirah hotels are also working with Bureau Veritas and Ecolab, who will audit their hygiene practices and cleaning processes. As a result, several Jumeirah properties earned Bureau Veritas’ Safeguard Label, proof that best practices and procedures are in place that meet local and international regulations.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts
To address the pandemic’s new challenges, Millennium hotels have launched the We Clean. We Care. We Welcome initiative.
The We Clean part features steps to ensure the highest level of cleanliness and safety for guests by implementing ten key hallmarks.
These hallmarks include higher standards of cleanliness and hygiene, checks on arrival for guests and employees (including temperature checks), readily available disinfection kits, frequent and regular sanitization of high-contact points, use of contactless technology to minimize physical contact, mandatory use of disinfectants on all contact points, enforcing one-meter social distancing, enhanced food safety protocols, use of PPE when appropriate, and the presence of a Hygiene Ambassador in each hotel to ensure measures are implemented.
The We Care part focuses on employees, with protocols to ensure their safety and well-being.
The We Welcome refers to the commitment of Millennium’s staff to welcome guests with the highest standards of hospitality.
They have also given their guests more flexibility as they can now cancel up to 72 hours before arrival.
Radisson Hotel Group
Following advice and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and local authorities, Radisson Hotel Group activated its corporate crisis response teams worldwide in response to the pandemic.
Regarding health and safety, they developed the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, in partnership with SGS. This protocol includes twenty steps for hotels and ten steps for meetings and events spaces.
For hotels, the protocol includes measures such as physical distancing, increased frequency in cleaning and disinfection, improved air circulation, etc.
For meetings and events space, the steps include installing sanitizing stations throughout the event space, making sure the meeting room set-up allows for proper physical distancing, placing a disinfect box for used stationery items, etc.
Radisson also made changes to their cancellation policy by granting free cancellations and modifications up to 24 hours before the arrival date, and refund of the deposit when applicable. They also modified their loyalty programs by suspending points expiration or extending members’ status.
The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects on the hospitality sector. Many factors play against the industry, such as the length of shelter-in-place restrictions, changes in company travel policies, consumer willingness to travel, and changes to demand, such as virtual events instead of in-person events.
But there are steps that hotels can take to improve their odds. Indeed, McKinsey’s April 2020 survey shows that, at least for leisure travelers, their main request is to see more health and safety measures, for example, intense room cleaning. The hotel chains that we referred to in this post seem to have heard that message loud and clear, as they are taking several measures to make guests feel as safe as possible in their properties.
Tuesday, 15 September 2020
While there hasn’t been a perfect response to the Coronavirus pandemic, some countries seem to have fared better than others and reported a lower mortality rate. Countries in the Middle East could have feared the worst when Iran became one of the pandemic’s epicenters, but some of them managed to contain the spread of the virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken the world by storm, and countries have addressed the challenge in different manners. Some have elected to go into complete lockdown for weeks, closing down borders, schools, and all non-essential businesses, even penalizing people who dared to venture outside. Others like Sweden have taken a softer approach and haven’t changed much of their lifestyle.
In this post, we are taking a look at how four countries in the Middle East, namely Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman, have responded to the challenge. Being so close to Iran, the epicenter of the pandemic in the Middle East, meant drastic measures had to be taken to make sure the virus wouldn’t spread too fast or too widely, overwhelming the countries’ capabilities in terms of healthcare resources.
The response of the State of Kuwait was swift and robust. The first Gulf State to implement nationwide curfews and a border lockdown by halting all inbound and outbound commercial flights from March to August, Kuwait also suspended work at most private businesses and public establishments starting early March.
All public gatherings were banned, with the closure of mosques, malls, schools, and universities. Two cities that were suspected of having high numbers of infections were quarantined. Masks were made compulsory, and people who would not comply faced hefty fines and even jail time.
It is worth noting that, because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012, Kuwait had some experience dealing with COVID-like diseases. Triage units specialized in respiratory illnesses have already been set up in hospitals, which tremendously helped take care of patients exhibiting COVID-related symptoms.
The Kuwaiti government also adopted a series of measures to help businesses and the general population cope with the economic consequences of the pandemic. Among these, a stimulus package was created to help small- and medium-sized companies, loan repayments were postponed for three months, a national donations drive was set up to help the population in need, 30,000 Kuwaitis were repatriated for free from other countries, a month’s salary was disbursed to all Kuwaiti students abroad, and the state supply company was directed to cover any basic food shortages.
Some restrictions have now been lifted. For example, international travel is authorized again, except when coming from certain high-risk countries, and a two-week quarantine is in place for the foreseeable future. Most lockdown orders and curfews have been lifted, but some activities remain restricted (parties, weddings, funerals, etc.).
The United Arab Emirates:
The UAE started responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March. A curfew was declared to allow for deep cleaning overnight, except for essential workers. Violators were facing heavy fines. Public transport was suspended, and remote work was implemented (in Dubai, 100% of government employees and 80% of private-sector employees had to switch to remote, except for essential businesses). A 3-day National Sterilisation Drive took place from March 26th to March 29th.
All public venues were closed, and mass gatherings were all canceled. Schools and universities closed early March, while commercial centers, shopping malls, and markets had to close starting March 23rd. Cinemas, gyms, camps, and nightclubs, all had to close down in March as well. Elective surgeries were postponed. Strict lockdowns were imposed along with social distancing measures.
Passenger flights were suspended, and a 14-day quarantine at home was imposed mid-March for passengers returning from countries with an outbreak. All tourist visas were stopped mid-March, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi shut down their main tourist attractions to limit mass gatherings.
The country also implemented mass testing (as of June 7th, 28% of the population have been tested), and masks were made compulsory.
The government took several measures to help the population and businesses cope with the economic consequences of the pandemic: encouraging lending to businesses, lowering or even suspending various fees, lowering electricity and water bills, deferring loan installments, suspending all evictions, etc.
In April, some restrictions were lifted, and malls and restaurants were authorized for reopening. Precautionary measures included temperature checks, social distancing monitoring at supermarkets, and marked-off empty seats could also be found on the Metro in Dubai.
Qatar took stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus in March. All incoming flights were canceled, all non-essential shops were forced to shut down while working hours were restricted for all other stores. Universities, schools, and museums had to close as well. Public transport was suspended for disinfection.
A stimulus package was put in place to help the private sector survive the economic shutdown consequences.
Since June, the State of Qatar has started easing the restrictions. The process was set to take place in 4 phases, with phase 1 starting on June 15th, phase 2 on July 1st, phase 3 on August 1st, and phase 4 on September 1st.
For restrictions to be lifted and the country to move forward through the different phases, the government has established 9 KPIs that have to be met (e.g., continued decline in the percentage of cases, sufficient capacity for all emergency patients, enough capacity to process tests daily, etc.).
People have to follow several precautionary measures, ranging from observing a 2 meters physical distance, to wearing masks, practicing hand hygiene, and using the Ehteraz app.
The Omani government introduced measures to curb the spread of the virus in March. In a first effort early March, retail outlets were strongly encouraged to install sanitizing stations. Oman’s Supreme Committee for Dealing with COVID-19 was created on March 10th, and was tasked with taking nationwide decisions regarding the pandemic.
Then, similarly to what other countries were doing, more drastic measures were implemented: schools and universities were suspended from March 15th, all gatherings and events were banned, and mosques, souks, cinemas, gyms, and non-essential shops had to shut down. Most public transports were also suspended mid-March.
The “Work from Home” initiative was also launched in March, along with a switch to online learning. Lockdowns were implemented in April, effectively restricting movement between governorates. Wearing face masks in public was made compulsory in May, with violators facing fines and detention. Around the same time, some businesses were allowed to resume their activity if they complied with preventive measures.
All domestic and international air traffic was effectively haltedstarting March 29th, except for cargo traffic and some repatriation flights. A trial flight took place on July 1st, but regular air traffic has yet to resume, and several requirements will have to be followed. For example, travelers will need to show proof of valid international health insurance; they will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to Oman; they have to register in the Tarassud app, etc.
Several measures were put in place to help businesses and the general population whether the pandemic’s economic consequences, such as a three-month waiver on utility bills, a reduction in various fees, the deferment of loans/interest, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spared no region of the world, and the Middle East is no exception. With Iran, the epicenter of the pandemic in the area, close by, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, and Oman, could have ended up with a catastrophic situation on their hands. These four countries’ governments chose to implement very firm measures to curb the pandemic as early as March, including lockdowns, curfews, and forced quarantines.
These steps seem to have paid off as the number of deaths per 100K population is at 12.76 for Kuwait, 3.94 for the UAE, 7.05 for Qatar, and 14.18 for Oman, compared to 26.11 for Iran.
Friday, 31 July 2020
Hybrid events alongside other tools for remote work and virtual meetings are being adopted on a massive scale as COVID-19 pandemic forces anyone who can work from home to do so. Remote work might become a "new normal" after the crisis has vanished; arguably, a greater proportion of our day-to-day professional activities will be conducted online.
If social distance teaches us anything, it is the value of human connection: in business, as in life, there is no substitute for the power of bringing people together. Humans still rely primarily on physical proximity and personal interactions for learning and educating, exploring, or exchanging ideas, besides building trusted relationships needed for problem-solving, negotiating, and decision-making. So we're confident that when some semblance of normality returns, we'll see a pendulum swing in appetite and appreciation for face-to-face events.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
Hybrid event is an in-person physical event or series of in-person events that have been seamlessly merged with an online audience that can listen to speakers, participate in activities, and network with online and offline participants.
A hybrid event is more than just a live stream of an event to an online audience; it's a streaming experience that supports both attendees on the event floor and those watching online. It offers an interactive space for both audiences to engage while also experiencing the same content.
It is essential to take the time to identify the objectives of your hybrid event and to gather all the tools you need to achieve these objectives effectively. Below, we outline the common elements, goals, and benefits of your hybrid event.
Critical Elements of Hybrid Events
One common misconception we've heard in the industry is that all you need for a hybrid event is a virtual streaming provider. A good hybrid event includes the same hardware and functionality as an onsite event. Paired with a good virtual streaming provider, these constituents will make your hybrid event a big success.
Your content is probably even more important to a hybrid event. Not just do your in-person attendees have to be engaged, but your virtual attendees should also be involved in the event.
The hybrid event attracts both in-person and virtual participants; Giving your organization the chance to attract the number of participants to your event multiple times.
Build custom registration paths for your in-person attendees and your virtual attendees to sign up for correct sessions. Finally, keep track of those who have abandoned registration and send them a reminder email to register!
Volume of Attendees
While an in-person event is often the most engaging one, some interested people don't have the ability or the time to travel long distances to attend such events. Not to mention, sometimes, in-person events can carry a very high price tag. Both factors may prevent individuals from deciding to register for your event. However, with a hybrid event, these individuals may be more likely to attend the event from the comfort of their desktop and at a much lower cost.
When hosting a hybrid event, you will be streaming your speakers and sessions for virtual attendees to view. This allows you to record the sessions and send them out after the event. Attendees who couldn't make some sessions or want to watch again can now engage with the content weeks after the event ends.
Lower Carbon Footprint
By reducing the number of attendees onsite, the carbon footprint of your event will also decrease. There will be less movement by the visitors, fewer dishes thrown away, and less transportation of tables and rental chairs. Your company will not only be positioned as a great event but also as an environmentally conscious organization.
It is the main explanation of why virtual events have been launched; convenience! As described earlier, most people today have hectic schedules and are hesitant to take time out to travel to and commute back from an event.
Flexible, interactive online options are much easier for them to attend.
Connect to a Global Audience
You are no longer limited to a single audience or a few devoted commuters.
Now, you can let people from all over the world enter your event and even take part via an online bridge or forum.
With in-person experience being a major advantage of onsite activities, we expect to see a rise in post-COVID-19 hybrid activities. A hybrid event encourages participants to engage comfortably in-person and practice social distancing while others may take part in the event online from their remote location.
However, there is still no other method that better conveys the aspects of communication than face-to-face connections. Body language is a crucial part of communication. Well, postures, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements are best translated live.
When a company is trying to get the best results with a team buy-in or team building, a face-to-face meeting is the most efficient.
Irreplaceable Benefits of Face to Face Events
Meetings take people to a more focusing environment with fewer distractions. As long as attendees are entertained, informed, and fed, experienced event hosts can keep their attendees engaged for long hours.
-A better Chance to Understand Body Language
Communication is not always conveyed by words alone. You can understand a lot by observing a person's body language and even the tiny signals he/she gives by facial expressions and hand gestures.
-It Helps Make Focusing Easier
Virtual meetings are very beneficial and attractive, indeed. Still, in this multitasking world, the chances are good that, during a meeting, people may be involved in other tasks as well, such as checking emails, which will not allow them to focus on what is being shared in a meeting fully. However, the chances of multitasking are very rare in face-to-face meetings, which is one of the most important face-to-face benefits. Such meetings are more engaging, and people often worry that they may be noticed if they try to do anything else, so complete or optimum attention is sure to be enjoyed in these meetings.
-Conversations Are More In-Depth
Attending a meeting in person usually brings all your attention and ideas to the area around the topic being discussed, making you more involved, thus share more profound insights.
Also, many people attend events not just for content but also for the ability to meet and connect with other participants (and speakers) with common interests. Human factor and relationship building experience are the number one reason people are attending events.
The Verdict - Face-to-Face OR Hybrid Event?
Face to Face Events:
- Better communication
- More personal treatment
- Greater concentration
- Allows off the record
- Add flexibility to projects
- Reduce logistical costs
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
The MICE industry (which stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) is one of the strong pillars of the travel and tourism sector. The term MICE is commonly used in contexts of business travel referring to the events industry within hotels. As we are in the 21st century, the MICE Industry has become the need of the hour for every business. Every business and institution wants to manage their meetings, appointments, conferences, events, summits, and exhibitions in a well-organized manner. Moreover, individuals find a solution in the MICE industry to help them organize personal events such as engagement dinners and weddings.
How MICE Is Important to the Economy
Many refer to the Mice industry as the event industry or meeting industry nowadays. The term MICE is more accurate and used by hotel managers and professionals, however, because MICE tourism includes a group of components. This requires those who work in this industry to have experience and skills enough for a variety of travel services that serve all kinds of groups and events of whatever length and participant numbers.
What makes this industry even more important is the fact that it is intertwined with various other industries. It is a business driver for other companies that rely on the MICE industry for their wellbeing. This includes hotels, corporate meeting planners, tourism boards, travel-selling professionals, logistics firms, conference centers, transfer companies, and food & beverage managers.
In points, this is why MICE tourism is important for the economy:
- It helps revitalize the economy: for many countries, tourism is one of the main industries, for they depend on its income. And MICE is one of the important sectors of tourism.
- It reduces seasonal limitations: Conferences, meetings, and events are usually held when there are no holidays and often midweek. This gives more consistency to the tourism industry.
- It betters tourism's quality: the spending power of the MICE tourist is usually high, and most of the expenses are covered by their company which allows the tourist to spend more of their own budget on other directions.
- Creating jobs: with a huge industry like MICE, a lot of jobs are constantly created many of which are permanent.
The MICE Industry Is Ever-Changing
Planning events, large ones, in particular, is too challenging. It needs a qualified event manager to take care of everything. This means that event managers should take care of planning the event, budgeting, choosing the venue, booking, getting permits, transportation, entertainment, catering, security, and more.
The MICE industry looks much different now than it did only a few years ago. Fundamental changes are occurring in the industry, leading events and meetings to become more exciting, useful, and easy. The change did not stop, nor did it intend to! Planning events is getting easier. It is an ever-changing industry.
Event management technologies are there to help event managers organize their events efficiently. Event managers are increasingly relying more on event management technology. And by time, they will depend more and more since it helps to improve the experience of events' attendees. Technology makes the work of event managers easier which lets them pay more attention to what is more important.
For example, to choose a venue suitable for an event, the event manager has to search for hotels that meet their needs and then start contacting the hotels' list one by one. Typically, this takes time, too much time, and effort which are very needed for other tasks. However, using booking apps, for example, could make this process way easier. Such service will save the time of contacting so many hotels, repeating information, and going throw the same procedures; it will help to find the right venue, contacting as many hotels as needed as soon as possible! This technology, alongside with many other even management technologies, makes planning events much easier and effective.
Event management technology helps managers with:
- Finding the best venue: by organizing choices and personalizing the process.
- Marketing and promoting: by creating customized and automated emails for example.
- Planning budgets and tracking expenses: by building realistic event budgets, tracking expenses, calculating all costs, and evaluating event spend.
- Travel and accommodation booking: by integrating booking travel and accommodation directly into the registration process, which makes registration faster and easier.
- Processing payments: by tracking payments, automating refunds, and offering promotional pricing.
- Making events more engaging: by using check-in technology, mobile apps, and exhibition tracking.
- Evaluating the success of events: by tracking total attendance and then the attendance at specific sessions, to know which speakers and sessions are most engaging.
The Impact of Coronavirus on the MICE Industry
With the fundamental transformation, the coronavirus pandemic has brought into the world, many countries have started to consider moving on and gradually reopening now. However, the post-coronavirus world would by no means remain the same. Change is inevitable.
For hotels, cancellation of meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and events for the past few months became the new normal. Inasmuch as everything is going back to normal, the MICE industry has developed and still developing new technologies that are ought to help to adopt with the changed circumstances.
Some changes in the MICE industry in specific will affect the nature of meetings and events including where and how they are held. Venues and halls will host fewer people to maintain social distancing. Wedding venues might contain less furniture and allow fewer people, too.
Event technologies will play a crucial role in adopting the MICE industry with the post-pandemic world. Many technologies will be used more, like facial recognition technology which will be used to check attendees into the venue. Also, mobile apps will be used to display information to reduce the dependence on printed materials that could be touched by multiple people. Web apps will be used to choosing venues, booking them, and paying all remotely. Many changes will happen, and technology will be our guardian angel.
Thursday, 11 June 2020
As many countries are preparing to end shutdowns and start a post-coronavirus world, hotels are eager to return to normalcy. However, since the pandemic is not over yet, some industries might remain closed. Or at least partially closed which could lead us to a world of half-closures.
Still, returning to normalcy might not seem normal. The pandemic may spur changes in the hotel industry. This can alter hotel industry norms, behaviors, and standards to guarantee that hotel guests are confident in the cleanliness and safety of hotels.
Yes, hotel management will be happy to see guests again. But the front-desk clerk might not be able to express that or smile at them (as masks will be covering faces). Guests might not get a room key either.
A major change in the post-coronavirus world will be cleanliness. Hotels used to keep cleaning procedures behind the scenes. Few people had concerns to sleep or stay where hundreds of people had slept or stayed.
But now, guests will expect cleanliness to be more visible. Guests will become more hyper-conscious of all the surfaces that could host the virus.
Thus, to control gusts' fears and worries, hotels started to release guidelines and protocols to bolster their cleanliness and safety standards. A lot of the major hotels in the world, including Hilton and Hyatt, have developed plans regarding cleaning and sanitization procedures to reassure their guests that their campuses are clean, safe, and secure.
Hilton chain, for example, is increasing its cleanliness measures, making partnerships with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol. These new measures will be applied over its 6,100 worldwide properties. This will affect guest rooms, venues, restaurants, and all public spaces.
Also, high-touch areas, such as door handles, light switches, TV remotes, and thermostats, will require extra cleaning. So, every hour or two during peak check-in and check-out periods, a team member in the lobby will be visibly cleaning the most-touched surfaces. In the meantime, they will place a room seal on all doors to show guests that their rooms have not been accessed since they were cleaned.
Hotels staffers will probably be all equipped with face masks and gloves. Hotels will probably show touch-free hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes all over their campuses. There might be less furniture in order to make space, too. Moreover, hotels will accommodate fewer people in larger spaces. So, fewer guests will ride an elevator. Venues that were designed for more than 100 guests, will be no longer able to host more than 40.
Many procedures will start to take place online including payments and bookings. Online apps and services that help guests book their rooms or venues and pay without exchanging credit cards will become especially important now.
We cannot predict how the world of post-coronavirus will be different from what it has used to be, but the change is inevitably occurring. And all industries, including the hotel industry, are preparing for this change.