Saturday, September 19

Hybrid events may be way forward amid pandemic

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Featured at this week’s TuesdayTalk Live, (top row from left) to right are Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau CEO Ashwin Gunasekeran, Roziman and Noor Ahmad while at bottom are Sabah Tourism Board general manager Noredah Othman (left) and Abdul Khani.

KUCHING: Hybrid events may be the way forward for the business events industry in the foreseeable future, with industry leaders suggesting the possibility and feasibility of virtual site inspection and bidding for the industry.

According to Sarawak Convention Bureau acting chief executive officer (CEO) Amelia Roziman, it is anticipated that as with Sarawak itself, all other states will be aiming for domestic and homegrown events given the current situation and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, on international business and international events, where the leads require longer times in conversion to an actual event, we hope to collaborate with associations like the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) to explore the possibility and feasibility of virtual site inspections and bidding,” Roziman said.

She was speaking during a TuesdayTalk Live event entitled ‘The Future of business events in Malaysia’ yesterday alongside other panellists.

“At the moment, we have no studies on this. We don’t know what the international or national associations are up to (regarding virtual site inspections and bidding).” she added, noting that this platform was already available before the pandemic.

“However, the request for normal site inspection and bidding are becoming more popular. Perhaps this is something we all can collaborate on and I think this is something worth looking into.”

On other upcoming trends in the business events industry, ICCA’s Asia Pacific regional director Noor Ahmad Hamid believed that hybrid events will likely be a constant in the near term.

“I think it’s very obvious that everything is going on virtual now and I think that the trend that we are going to foresee in the coming months or in the early part of 2021 is that it will be a hybrid events, that is without doubt,” Noor Ahmad said.

“The reason why a lot of international organisers are going into hybrid events is because they understand that when a situation has been relaxed, it will not be the same all over the world.

“Some countries are still going to have the pandemic at a different level to other countries. Some countries will be opening up far more sooner than other parts of the world.

“Therefore, having hybrid events will provide the opportunity of the event to be still carried out face-to-face with a limited number of people who are able to travel to that particular destination and the larger group of people who are not able travel, will join the meeting virtually.”

Meanwhile, Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau CEO Datuk Sri Abdul Khani Daud stressed that physical venues are still a core part of the business events industry, and believes that it is still important to ensure full capacity when hosting conferences or conventions.

“The future of business events is very crucial for our tourism industry. This sector contributes triple in terms of income, as compared to leisure business,” Abdul Khani said.

“We have to make sure that business events continues to contribute to msia’s economic growth. We also invested, most of the state governments invested in this sector, by building the venues for conferences, conventions and so forth. We cannot leave them empty for a long time.

“I just like to highlight and stress that this business is about people’s movement. We built the venue to fill with people. If we go for hybrid (events) for instance, or push for webinar to continue for a long time, then we will see our venues will probably be half-filled and this is not good for the venue.

“We have to make sure that people keep coming to our show, to our convention. But we have to create confidence among them that we are doing our level best to make sure that they are safe if they are having their events here in Malaysia.

“We will do our best to make sure that their safety and health are taken care of when they are here. This is very important for all our international partners and our stakeholders to look into because we also have to take care of our suppliers.”