As the pandemic recedes and destinations around the world begin to reopen, the travel industry is assessing which of the changes made over the past two years will become permanent.
While leisure is rebounding quickly, there are signs business travel may be slower to recover, with at least part of the market replaced by digital alternatives.
That is the expectation of Hubilo Technologies, which is betting all events in the post-Covid-19 world will be at least partially online.
To display how it can assist in this process, the company this week hosted Mastering Immersive Experiences (MIX) to demonstrate its technology.
The hybrid event brought together some of the best event organisers in the world to share, learn and grow.
Taking place on three continents - with live events in San Francisco, New York, Bengaluru and London - hundreds of delegates were hosted online and in-person.
As Sophie Ahmed, senior vice president for market strategy with Hubilo, explains to Breaking Travel News, these kind of events have advantages over their pre-pandemic cousins.
“Hybrid, which we are showcasing this evening, is really exciting,” she explains.
“You can reach a global audience simultaneously, but you can also get an in-person buzz in several regions.
“People are now quite used to this way of working, similarly to how the majority of offices are now offering hybrid working; they expect events to have a digital component.
“Event organisers are now all looking for a tech partner to offer the digital components of their shows.
“We have just signed to collaborate with Freeman, for example, they understand that a digital component of a show is always going to be required and we are able to work with them to offer that.”
MIX was open to event marketers, internal communications professionals, executive leaders and everyone who is enthusiastic about connecting communities.
Attendees have the opportunity to discuss new boundary-pushing engagement strategies, see the latest in event technology and learn where the best minds in the industry are focused.
They got an insider view on how the leading event companies see the future, how they are planning to get there and how they successfully use technology from Hubilo to do so.
Naturally, as the world reopens, there are concerns digital events of the kind offered by Hubilo will see a fall in demand.
Will people still be happy to tune in from their desks at home, when an in-person meeting is once again a possibility?
Hubilo thinks so.
Ahmed continues: “This is something we have discussed a great deal with our investors and the industry at large, and we remain very confident.
“Prior to this role, I worked for a long time with in-person events, with Reed Exhibitions and Informa, some of the largest companies in the sector.
“But more recently, I was the co-founder of the Virtual Events Institute, a community for digital event professionals, and there is real belief this is a sector that can only grow.
“This has given me insight into the direction of the industry, we have worked on a lot of surveys, focus groups and research and what stood out was there will now always a be a digital element to events.”
She adds: “For the first three months of the pandemic, people just had their head in the sand, believing things would go back to what they were in a few weeks.
“Now, even the most cynical members of the industry are coming to realise things have changed.
“Digital events can be year-round, they can reach a larger target market and they can be curated in such a way as to provide content over a longer period of time.
“Hubilo allows organisers to host a series of smaller showcases in the build up to an in-person event, which can lead to better outcomes for all.”
Hubilo is also more than an improved version of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
The platform is able to manage everything from the registration of delegates through execution of the event.
Ahead of the day, the software automates the sending out of invitations, registrations and ticketing.
The company creates an event website and assists in event marketing.
At the event, Hubilo can oversee multiple sessions, while speakers can join the platform to offer their presentations.
People can participate through chats, polls and more.
Ahmed continues: “These events are also inclusive, people who are physically impaired, for example, are able to attend, while the material is available online for a period after the show, making it accessible to people who were perhaps not able to attend.
“As you can see, we have a sign language option on the screen this evening, and we hope the event can be open to all.
“For younger generations, this is all totally natural as well – they live digital lives so events of this kind are second nature, and that can only grow in the future.”
She adds: “The platform for this event was opened a week in advance, so delegates can connect, do business, set up appointments, make contact beforehand.
“Guests can see who else is attending, share content, that sort of thing.”
For companies stuck in the past, looking to host only in-person events, it may already be too late.
“Hubilo was launched before the pandemic as a matchmaking service for large events.
“Then, when Covid-19 struck, they were able to pivot to offer a virtual events platform in a little over three months.
“There is some resistance to going digital from event organisers, as they are sceptical about losing the legacy revenue.
“But the world is moving online, so there is a chance they will be left behind if they do not do so,” Ahmed concludes.
Hubilo is an events platform aimed at professionals in the industry for live, hybrid and virtual events.
Founded in 2015, the company makes it easy to bring people together anywhere, anytime.