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So you thought the events industry was dead? It’s actually thriving online and here’s how

By Scott Brown

I will start with a caveat if I may. NOTHING will replace live events. There’s the interaction between people, the clink of glasses, the sound of laughter, the buzz of a crowd waiting for the event to begin and, not forgetting, the canapes! (I have partaken in far too many of the latter.)

And, of course, there’s the recognition of a job well done via an award ceremony, the ability to raise money, or celebrate a charity or individual and the communal learning of a training event or seminar.

The simple fact is, that none of the above can be replaced by a Zoom or Teams meeting, however cost effective it might be.

But, events can still be better with a spot of innovation. Audiences can be larger, the effect they have stronger and the result they achieve greater, if the event is amplified beyond the room in which it’s held.

The challenges of the COVID-19 crisis has forced a pace of change across a variety of industries. Hotels and hospitality have been no different and whilst my industry has been one of the hardest hit, it is a resilient and innovative sector and one that has always embraced change.

Which leads me to INNSiDE LiVE. INNSiDE Manchester is a lifestyle hotel set within the up and coming district of First Street in Manchester.

Recently celebrating its fifth birthday, it was voted Manchester’s coolest hotel and is one that proudly boasts an atmosphere of something tangibly different to the normal hotel. It has an ever-changing art gallery in partnership with Comme Ca Art, DJs at breakfast and an event space that boasts “The Big Ideas” creative room.

It also now features INNSiDE LiVE, a virtual event solution which features an interactive state-of-the-art studio setting. This offers a live streaming experience, designed to facilitate a virtual or hybrid event. Sounds technical? Simply speaking, anyone who previously held a live event can now stream it online or pre-record the event from a Manchester city centre location.

As we move towards the recovery stage from the COVID-19 crisis, businesses and organisations need to achieve, maybe more than ever, the outcomes that live events previously allowed them to do – like communicate with customers, clients and team members, deliver strategic and influential messages with a brand tone, train or impart knowledge and celebrate achievement.

Doing this as a virtual event allows people to still do this to an audience that may now be working from home or remote locations. With modern technology these attendees can actually take part via live links, polls and audience interaction. Some early adopters have even found that virtual events have allowed them to increase their audience or deliver greater levels of return and response.

There are, of course, traditional studio settings where this can be done. But the beauty of a facility within a hotel is that it’s a comfortable environment and one where people, not used to presenting on screen, will feel familiar and safe.

INNSiDE follows Melia Hotels International’s industry-leading COVID-safe procedures and as we transition to allowing events to have more attendees, this virtual studio can become a hybrid studio where a mixture of both in-person and virtual attendees can engage and take part in the event.

One thing is for sure, as and when live events return, most will now take place with cameras and a livestream, so getting on board with this sooner rather than later will stand anyone in good stead.

Scott Brown is Cluster Director of Sales – UK North

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