Challenging times call for innovative solutions. This is especially true in the meeting and events space where critical COVID-19 safety considerations have made it more difficult than ever to get everyone in the same room. To that end, Palais des congrès de Montréal has joined its partners in launching a slate of hybrid meeting solutions designed to re-connect groups and fast-track the reopening of its operations.
“There are a host of safety concerns and social distancing requirements that are shaking up the convention industry,” says Robert Mercure, CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal. “That’s why we’re rethinking how we hold events by enhancing them with affordable digital components that will offset the restrictions expected to affect speakers, exhibitors, and visitors.”
The Palais’s strategy blends physical distancing measures with virtual online technologies to give meeting planners a number of safe and engaging ways to conduct their events. In addition to reconfiguring its meeting spaces to adhere social distancing requirements, the venue has outfitted its event rooms with technologies to stream presentations, engage remote audiences, and gather participant feedback via mobile devices in real-time. Additionally, the Palais is equipped to operate a studio for recording audiovisual content for podcasts, interviews, and other multimedia content.
“The idea is to have both physical and virtual meeting elements running seamlessly together so that someone attending virtually from a remote location will experience the same content as someone in the room,” says Mercure.
This “hybrid” approach is made possible through the Palais’ collaboration with tech leaders in the community and its operations. This includes Encore (formerly Freeman Audio Visual Canada), GES (Global Experience Specialists), and startups from the venue’s own CITÉ Events Lab, like Livescale, a firm offering real-time interaction and monetization opportunities. Moreover, the Palais is keeping an eye out for hybrid solutions from other event planning firms, provided they meet health and social distancing requirements.
Together with its partners, the venue aims to provide meeting planners with the guidance, insights, and technologies to execute their event plans while upholding today’s strict safety considerations.
“Because the Palais can tap into the expertise of its partners and a well-established business network, our teams can play a significant advisory role and help shepherd clients through a range of event formats, including exclusive and full-service technological solutions,” says Mercure.
An evolving approach
Times may call for virtual meeting options, yet the need for in-person events is not likely to be eclipsed.
“History has demonstrated that the need to assemble in person has triumphed over numerous crises. These digital solutions are meant to complement the services the Palais offers,” notes Mercure, adding, “The Palais will continue to host major events, which are sources of economic benefits and intellectual wealth for Montréal and Québec.”
Looking ahead, the Palais is working with its government partners and industry leaders to develop and adapt health and safety protocols that enhance the health and safety of employees and visitors. And while the Palais recognizes that attendance levels will likely remain low as COVID-19 persist, it is eager to host larger events and physical trade shows when authorized to do so.
In the meantime, Mercure says the plan is to continue developing digital solutions to make meetings and events possible right now and establish these services for events down the road: “Despite the undeniable impact COVID-19 has had on the Palais’ operations, the current situation is serving as a springboard for going forward with new digital opportunities that will enable us to further make our mark globally.”
“The convention industry is simply evolving,” he continues, “and the Palais and its new hybrid event solutions are at the forefront of this transformation.”
Learn more about Palais des congrès de Montréal integrated hybrid meeting solutions at https://congresmtl.com/en/hybrid/.