A Montreal convention centre is preparing to reopen by hosting hybrid events.
The Palais des congrès made the announcement June 10, in response to the safety concerns and social distancing requirements shaking up the convention industry.
“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,” says Palais des congrès de Montréal CEO, Robert Mercure.
The Palais’ retooling of how it holds events was made jointly with partners Encore and GES, and together with startups from its Cité Events Lab. It says the incorporation of digital elements will help offset the restrictions expected to affect speakers, exhibitors and visitors.
Hybrid events give audiences the option of participating live or online via the Internet. The Palais says this will be ideal where lower turnouts are expected. Live and virtual components will run simultaneously. The same content will be shared and interactive elements included so those attending in-person can interact with their counterparts in remote locations in real-time. The online show platform will also enable exhibitors to showcase their products and services and offer monetization opportunities.
Virtual software used will replicate event rooms where presenters and speakers will receive support from crews of technicians and producers providing guidance and direction remotely at all times, says the Palais. In addition, the convention centre is set up to operate a studio area for recording audiovisual content for podcasts and interviews, if needed.
The Palais is also open to working with ideas proposed by event planning firms that have developed their own hybrid solutions, provided these meet health and social distancing requirements.
Although adding these new virtual options might appear to suggest in-person meetings will no longer be required, the Palais says it remains optimistic and expects to host physical consumer and trade shows the moment it receives authorization. In the meantime, it is working with other members of the convention and tourism community, both locally and internationally, and in tandem with the provincial government to develop new health and safety practices.