Hilton Rolls Out Hybrid Program for Corporate Meetings
Hilton Hotels are set to introduce a new program made for 2021. Hilton EventReady Hybrid Solutions features a host of offerings for small meetings of roughly 20 attendees. It integrates feedback received from event planners who’ve adapted to the pandemic with the offerings its properties can provide.
“There are so many nuances to consider when planning a hybrid event,” noted Kelly Knowlen, executive director of sales engagement and special events at Hilton.
First and foremost, naturally, is technology. Hilton is evaluating each of its properties’ bandwidth and capability to handle further increased use. Early results show that most Hilton hotels passed that initial test, Knowlen said. “We are not asking hotels to invest in incremental technology build-outs at this time.
A smaller group of hotels are partnering with Encore (formerly PSAV) in-house Presentation Stages—on-site production-ready venues designed for broadcast use and with staging equipment.
Presentation Stages are currently available at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hilton Atlanta, Hilton Anatole, Hilton Denver and The Beverly Hilton. More will come online in Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, Washington, D.C. and across Europe, Middle East and Africa by the end of the year.
Hilton is also including incentive multi-site and express packages to alleviate the challenges presented by short turnaround times and the varied state and local regulations regarding in-person gatherings.
Knowlen is quick to point out that the new program is not solely focused on the virtual element of hybrid events. “There is no replacement of the value of in-person meetings,” she said. “While in-person events will return, hybrid events will be critical in the near-term.”
Beyond contracts and IT, a key component of EventReady Hybrid Solutions is a playbook for planners to follow, not only for safety precautions but also for maintaining attendees’ interest throughout. This includes case studies of successful events that planners have hosted at Hilton hotels during the past 10 months.
Among the ideas suggested is having remote attendees prepare a recipe in their kitchen during a live demo led by a Hilton chef. “Feedback was extremely positive and we’ve since replicated this model due to high demand,” Knowlen said.
Also, look for live viewing parties to be a trend for capturing attendee engagement, she predicted.
A full list of participating hotels is available here. The program includes properties in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East and Asia. More hotels and regions will be added by the end of February, Knowlen said. Hilton officials added they expect offerings to expand as the company and planners continue to adapt to working through the pandemic.