16 Dec 2020

Patrick Brochu speaks at WEC Grapevine, Media Stage’s first hybrid event post-shutdown

In early November, our Director of Show Services Patrick Brochu attended MPI’s WEC Grapevine event in Texas and spoke at multiple interactive sessions.

MPI (Meeting Professionals International), a global organization, chairs the WEC (World Education Congress) event annually and this year it looked quite different. It was definitely a sign of encouragement within the audio visual industry as it was the first “hybrid” event we’ve been a part of since March, having roughly 500 attendees in person and another 1,100 participating virtually. For context, this event usually hosts 2,500-3,000 people onsite.

Increased sanitation and physical distancing measures were followed very closely by host venue Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center.

Everything from registration to dining was done via QR code; there were no paper itineraries, contact lists, menus etc. Once an attendee would scan a QR code, they would be prompted with a health questionnaire to complete the contactless check-in and would also do a temperature screening.

Bags of essentials were distributed that included hand sanitizers, wipes and a key that would grant touch-less access to all the main rooms. For the Welcome Reception, attendees were transported on busses (not seated directly next to one another) to an offsite venue in Grapevine. Wristbands ensured contactless admittance to enjoy live music, pre-portioned meals and cocktails that were served from behind plexiglass at the bar area.

The scene of General Session was that of spaced-out tables (fewer in quantity than normal) with only four chairs at each. Participants were given tent cards to write their names on, and each card had a colored dot on it. The colors of the dots indicated which group they would enter and exit the ballroom with to avoid bottlenecking. This portion of the event was heavily integrated with the online audience by means of Q&A, live chat, and showing some of the remote audience members up on the projection screens.

The theme of the conference and its breakout sessions focused on the current state of live productions, be it fully virtual or hybrid events. Budgeting, ways to engage a virtual audience, increased remote productivity and adapting to key differences between hybrid and in-person events were among some of the primary subjects.

Media Stage is thankful that Patrick was able to attend this event and very appreciative of all the increased safety measures. We are looking ahead to a busy 2021 and remain optimistic for the eventual return of live in-person events!