Virtual events likely a permanent fixture for conferences and industry summits Oct 30, 2020

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A recent survey by Marriott Bonvoy found that half of the event planners in the Asia Pacific region do not intend to continue hosting physical events and conferences in the future.

The results could present some interesting opportunities for the accommodation industry in Australia.

The survey found that 36% of the event planners believed hybrid events, combining physical and online elements, would be a better way to maximise reach across geographical locations. Smaller scale events, with local attendees as well as virtual ones, are being focused on as a future solution.

This year’s Australasian Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE) was one such example. To combat difficulties with travel, the conference was conducted both online and in-person in Sydney and Auckland. Key-note speakers, panel members and Q&A respondents attended both remotely and in-person. Attendees outside of Sydney and Auckland were able to tune in to the whole event online.

Online and virtual events are proving to be a cost-effective solution, and these kinds of events may become a permanent fixture. While this could have a negative impact on future business travel, there may be an opportunity for the accommodation industry to adapt to this new direction.

Across Australia, the lack of international destinations could see more events organised domestically. Future requirements may see less need for big event spaces, and more focus on multiple, smaller conference rooms with full audio-visual capabilities. Hotels that offer dedicated onsite event staff might be more appealing to event planners in order to ensure technical operations run smoothly. Emphasis will be placed on the hotel’s internet speed and quality.

The issue of changing event space needs may be another difficulty for the Australian accommodation and tourism industry to overcome, but there are likely to be many opportunities as well. And if COVID-19 has proven anything, it’s that our innovative and hardworking industries are absolutely up to the challenge.