May 10, 2021

Over the past year, the meetings and events industry changed. We pulled up our socks and adapted to new buyer needs, virtual events and more.

Until the world is back to normal, we will meet – just differently. Hybrid meetings and events, combining both in-person and virtual experiences, are how our industry will reunite, recover, and rebuild. 

You don’t need to explore this changed landscape alone. Mending the industry is going to take patience, discussion, learning and innovation.  

Hilton Hotels in Prague are ramping up their hybrid capabilities. We spoke to Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague and Christian Schwenke, General Manager, Hilton Prague Old Town to find out about their hybrid offerings.

Find out how Hilton Hotels Prague are approaching hotel safety:

1. How are your properties providing that “wow factor” for hybrid events?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

Besides the diverse meeting space capabilities in both Hilton Hotels in Prague, the crucial factor for successful hybrid event is the stable and reliable internet infrastructure. Our multi GB connectivity guarantees the success of any hybrid event. Additionally, with support of our audio-visual partner company, AV Media Events, we can provide creative and tailor-made solutions such as event apps or production of content in a dedicated virtual studio. Safety of participants is of a paramount importance for us, as an example, we can provide wireless microphones and a UV-C box for their disinfection.

Find out more about Hilton Prague

2. How do you ensure and communicate duty of care?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

We have implemented Hilton EventReady with CleanStay programme which was rolled out globally in Q2 2020. It is designed to create event experiences that are clean, flexible, safe and socially responsible. Hilton CleanStay standards provide elevated cleanliness and sanitation across the entire attendee journey. It is an elaborated set of standards which Hilton Hotels are adhering to globally in order to ensure peace of mind of the meeting organisers and participants.

3. Have you had to train up staff or make an investment to source new people for provision of hybrid events?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

The entire sales and event planner teams have been trained by our audio-visual provider. Besides this, our AV partner company is in direct communication with the client from the very moment a hybrid request is received. They are on site, which is instrumental in building the bridge between virtual and live events. Our AV partner is a key player in the Central European market and the teams are highly skilled. They also make sure our hotel sales team is up-to-date with technical options and able to assist the clients.

4. How do you think the skill set is changing?

Christian Schwenke, General Manager, Hilton Prague Old Town

As every new experience, new knowledge is required and the teams are ready to adapt to this change. This is the only way forward nowadays and I can say that our teams in both Hilton Prague and Hilton Prague Old Town are really good in that.

5. What in your opinion are the top factors to consider when providing hybrid events to your client?

Christian Schwenke, General Manager, Hilton Prague Old Town

First of all, it is crucial to find out whether the client is experienced with organising hybrid events or if more detailed guidance is needed. It is also important to understand the format of the event, if the client and participants will be watching a stream or if there will be speakers streamed from our location. How many locations are involved and what content will be shared, this will also define the need for the bandwidth and further technology. Last but not least, it is flexibility when it comes to space and conditions. Our environment now is fast changing and we need to adjust to it and allow maximum freedom to the planner.

6. What kind of hybrid events have you held?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

We have held many different events, from small, passive ones when receiving a streaming only to a large hybrid showcase organised from 3 different locations, with 7 speakers, 5 panelists and active interaction from live and virtual audience. Also, to cover all time zones, we have organised two sessions with 300 clients joining from 30 countries.

7. What key factors make you hybrid-capable?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

Hilton Hotels in Prague are very flexible and “hybrid-capable” thanks to versatile meeting space capabilities ranging from large meeting rooms able to hold a set of any size even when considering social distancing, to smaller break out rooms, multi GB connectivity infrastructure and a specialised audio visual partner which has extensive experience in organising and executing various hybrid events.

8. What is the responsibility of the hotel/venue and planner when it comes to hybrid events?

Christian Schwenke, General Manager, Hilton Prague Old Town

The beginning of the pandemic naturally demanded this shift caused by nationwide lockdowns and travel restrictions. Luckily, for us this change was very easy and smooth as we have the support of our on-site audio-visual partner with trainings and tailor-made customised hybrid event solutions. We want to provide our clients with the best solutions during the situation we are all in. We are a hospitality company, and we care about our clients and their needs to still proceed with key events.

9. What are some challenges you encountered with hybrid? How did you overcome them?

Michael Specking, General Manager, Hilton Prague

We understand this is a new way of meeting and sharing knowledge and experiences for some clients. Sometimes they are also worried the hybrid way is too complicated. We put them at ease thanks to the expertise of our audio-visual partner and professionalism of our team, able to execute any large-scale event. What helps is to make clients feel we are “in it” together and to be few steps ahead. The clients are not alone and have a reliable partner on their side.

Hybrid is our way back to normality.

Event planners and venues must lean on each other more than ever to be successful. That means that it is key to collaborate effectively and to know what the other side expects.

Up next, check out our webinar series on reconnecting planners and venues through hybrid events.

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