And the Oscar goes to…

Multi-Hub Meetings

A widely recognized example of a multi-site congress was last year’s "BOCOM – Experience Borderless Communication" taking place in Berlin, Amsterdam, Essen and Vienna. Photo: GCB

While Multi-hub hybrid meetings grow in popularity, even the Academy Awards will broadcast live from multiple locations, meeting destinations launch the Hybrid City Alliance.

The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood has been the home of the Academy Awards for nearly twenty years, but 2021 it will be only one of the locations for the upcoming Oscars ceremony. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spreads out the event, which will take place on April 25, to ensure safety for participants and guests during the coronavirus pandemic. The Academy plans an “in-person” event, although the situation remains unclear. "To create the in-person show, our global audience wants to see, while adapting to the requirements of the pandemic, the ceremony will broadcast live from multiple locations, including the landmark Dolby Theatre”, the group said in a statement.

With this approach, the Oscar Academy is definitely in line with a current trend, the so called “multi-hub” events. Multi-hub hybrid meetings and conferences continue to grow in popularity, particularly in the association sector, where destinations and different locations collaborate to deliver local content for an event around a wider national or international offering. Delegates can choose to attend virtually, at their local hub or at a central “main event” destination based on their needs, resources and travel restrictions.



For Geneva Convention Bureau, Ottawa Tourism Business Events, The Hague Convention Bureau and Prague Convention Bureau quite a reason to launch the Hybrid City Alliance in a collaboration that sees the four like-minded destinations come together to provide a creative new offering for conference and event buyers. The Alliance provides international event organisers with a streamlined event planning and delivery service. Rather than working directly with multiple destinations, clients can make use of the Hybrid City Alliance’s links, with a central point of contact at their preferred Alliance member, who will coordinate responses, RFPs and delivery.

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Bas Schot, Head of The Hague Convention Bureau welcomed the new initiative saying: “Today it is not about I but about We. In order for the industry to rebound faster, we all need to act together. Therefore, we are glad to extend our Ottawa partnership with like-minded innovative destinations such as Prague and Geneva, who are eager to focus on solutions for tomorrow and we also look forward to welcoming other destinations to join us to shape the future.” The Durban KwaZulu Natal Convention Bureau joined the alliance at the beginning of the year. The multi-hub concept has several benefits, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegates can for example choose to attend either online or at a local or regional event, reflecting local travel restrictions. A local hub also has the benefit of reducing travel time – which in turn has a financial impact for the delegate as well as a positive sustainable impact on the planet.

The launch of the Hybrid City Alliance took place as a multi hub meeting. Foto: Hybrid City Alliance

Michael Regnath, Head of Sales at event platform storytile, is keeping a close eye on the shift toward distributed satellite events instead of one big event. "For many of our clients, the ability to use multiple small venues in different locations across Germany for live events and connect them digitally is simply the best solution for events in times of global pandemic." Regnath lists the advantages: "Organisers can thus comply with the current contact restrictions and only welcome the respective permitted number of guests at their event. And participants do not have to travel such a long way to get there. By connecting the event virtually, it is no problem for those who do not want to or cannot travel at all to follow a livestream of the event. A classic win-win situation that many of our clients have taken advantage of in the past year.”

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A widely recognized example of such an event was the hybrid multi-site congress "BOCOM – Experience Borderless Communication" last year. At BOCOM, several hundred participants met on-site at the central conference venue in Berlin, at the hubs in Amsterdam, Essen and Vienna as well as virtually from all continents to be inspired and to discuss how we may work and communicate in the future and how events will look like then. „With its dual focus on face-to-face encounters and digital networking, the hybrid multi-site congress is an essential component of our recovery strategy ‚At the heart of future events‘“, says Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau, which was one of the organizers of the event. BOCOM’s agenda was developed collaboratively with partners from the corporate, agency and science fields. The agenda put a special focus on reflecting on the past months’ experiences and discussing new solutions. In addition to a Conference Area, the event’s Interactive Area provided all on-site and virtual participants with various opportunities for testing new formats in a Corona-compliant manner: Whether in the virtual reality workshop, experiencing virtual locations with VR glasses, during in-depth discussions in the Speaker's Corner or in the interactive engagement canvas workshop. One of BOCOM’s essential building blocks is the scientific evaluation conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. The research aims at identifying, among other things, how the multi-site setup affects participants regarding the transfer of knowledge, interaction and networking as well as how the participants experience different formats. Another key question of the evaluation revolves around BOCOM’s ecological sustainability performance. The evaluation’s results as well as recommendations for future actions are regularly published by the German Convention Bureau. Whether findings from the Academy Awards will also be published is written in the stars.

Christian Funk

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