Are Event Strategists Ready for Multi-hub Meetings?


Meeting Design Institute President Maarten Vanneste says rapid tech evolution is driving this format but many planners are not yet embracing it.

Meetings and their formats are continuously changing and, as always, planners need to stay up-to-date.

Many of today’s changes are driven by technology and the need for digitalisation. More and more planners are willing to try new technology and formats in order to keep up. What has changed is a rapid evolution in the meeting technology available today, consequently creating a tipping point.

Maarten Vanneste

Maarten Vanneste

An area where this is particularly noticeable is virtual and hybrid meetings — not necessarily on the same scale, but definitely with some serious impact. These types of meetings are on the rise, and technology is driving this shift.

A meeting format that I see evolving incredibly quickly is multi-hub meetings — partially virtual meetings where groups in different places are sharing the same programme at the same time.

Why are we seeing more multi-hub meetings? Well, cost has gone down, quality has gone up, and reliability has arrived.

Cost is down because the required audio-visual equipment and video-call systems have become smaller and cheaper. Smaller equipment makes travel possible without shipping and thus saving even more for the smaller formats.

Quality is up because of new technology. HD cameras and more mature video-call systems are now stable.

But most importantly, reliability has arrived thanks to more bandwidth availability. Strong bandwidth is available globally now and 4G is an excellent and reliable backup.

Although in many cases this format may not be applicable, for certain types of meetings it may become disruptive. It is a money saver, gets high Net Promoter Scores, and is a format that is on the rise. Yet many planners are still not ready to trial it.

What we need to realise is that there are companies running dozens of multi-hub meetings a year, with growing turnouts and zero failure. In a few years’ time they will have saved millions in travel cost, increased their reach, and will be seriously ahead of their competition who will be asking: “What just happened?”

Small trial projects are a great way to test this format and discover its potential because you don’t want to be left scratching your head.

Maarten Vanneste is the president of the Meeting Design Institute and a senior consultant at Abbit Meeting Innovators. He is also the author of Meeting Architecture, a manifesto, The Tweeting Meeting, and Multi Hub Meetings. This article was compiled by staff at Untangled, a Singapore-based content, marketing, and business strategy consultancy. 

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