The EU Brussels community is constantly looking for ways to position itself and to interconnect, so that everyone can express their opinion on contemporary developments.
Until March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, the capital of Europe abounded in conferences. The market reached pharaonic levels, as much as 100 events a day, almost every day. Then, 16 months ago, the events market froze completely, not only in Brussels, but all over the planet, forcing humanity to reinvent itself.
After the shock, came the mobilization and the launch of those famous virtual conferences. Platform brands appeared, some of them little known until then. It was a real moment of human solidarity, in which, paradoxically, the European institutions opened up even more. Events began to appear with MEPs gathering some 500 participants, and an intervention by a European Commissioner was watched by thousands of people. If by 2019 “Brussels was talking to Brussels”, with small exceptions, the pandemic has opened the European fortress. Panelists from European capitals appeared, without management or logistic costs. We have witnessed a real democratization of conferences in which a student could intervene from his campus during a European debate.
Of course, everyone wants the end of this period that has put humanity to the test. What's next in terms of public events? We already have the answer from the market. The new password is HYBRID. We want to have conferences with the public, while also maintaining the virtual community so well developed now.
From an organizational point of view, a hybrid conference is very complex to implement. It is actually organizing two events at the same time. There are the dynamics of the conference room, which now needs to be super-technological, with fixed and portable video cameras, a strong and stable internet connection and a large amount of qualified human resources. At the same time, there is a need for a permanent investment in the digital platform that hosts the conference and ensures interaction with the virtual community. However, the strong point of development is the connection of the two markets. The moderator of such an event interacts with a panel partially in the room, but also one visible only on a computer screen. The public is on the premises, but also on chat or Q&A.
Will these hybrid conferences make it in the long term? Time will or will not confirm this hypothesis. We discover the new normal together, in all segments of activity. It is important to have innovation, to be open to the new, to have speed in execution and to constantly adapt.
Personally, last week I spoke at the first hybrid conference in Brussels and this felt fantastic. It's good to see people in the flesh again as they say, and to be able to interact directly with them. It's the same feeling you have at sports competitions in which the public reappears in the stands. At the same time, the marketing of each event has increased. It is important not to forget the virtual audience, won in the pandemic war, and which really has a constructive approach to the community system.
Dan LUCA / Brussels