Name: Pascale Senejoux, CMP
Title: Director, Event Management
How long at the SDTA: Nine years
What is the demand for hybrid or virtual events? Is one type of meeting more in demand than the other?
With facilities here and across the country closed for in-person meetings, organizations are turning to virtual events to communicate and engage with their members, customers and clients. Going forward as things begin to re-open, planners are looking to hold hybrid events so those who are able to travel and are comfortable with in-person meetings can have that experience while those who are unable to attend can still have access to the program virtually. Orlando, for instance, has already held a few hybrid events with both in-person and online attendance.
Realistically, given California’s restrictions, it will be a while before hybrid events can be held here, so right now most everyone is doing some type of virtual event. Of course, a virtual event can be as simple as a Zoom meeting or as complicated as an elaborate staged multi-media event with a variety of speakers in multiple locations.
What are the biggest concerns in putting on a virtual event?
There are any number of concerns or challenges from cost to technology to security to attendance. There are also business model concerns regarding how much can you charge and still put on a high-quality, profitable event online. The good news is that these virtual events may be more inexpensive so that you may re-allocate some of the in-person costs such as food and beverage expenses and reinvest them in the technology and production. Another issue to consider is the recognition of sponsors. You need to figure out how a sponsorship can be just as valuable in the online space as an in-person event.
What are the services that San Diego vendors can provide?
San Diego vendors can do it all, from small events where you record your presentations at an in-house studio to large, multi-media productions with all sorts of online bells and whistles. There are all different types of packages and platforms—it just depends on what your needs are when it comes to the size and scope of your event. These packages can range from $1,500 to $30,000+, depending on your needs.
How do you decide what services you need?
As you are planning your event, you really need to think through the basics. What is your program trying to accomplish? Is it for training? Is it networking? How many people are attending? If you’ve already held a virtual event or meeting, send out surveys and review your attendees’ responses to help refine future programming. Looking through the chats from online events also can give insight into where the program worked and where it didn’t.
Obviously, the speakers and panelists are as key as the topics they are going to cover. The content needs to be relevant, timely and engaging. You also need to coach your speakers on how to communicate in a digital format because it can be a difficult transition for those who rely on an audience to gauge their performance and pacing.
If you are trying to do a virtual happy hour or social event, you need to figure out how to keep your attendees engaged. The good news is that San Diego is home to a whole host of companies that can help work through those questions and design a package that makes sense. We have audio-video vendors as well as meeting management companies that can take on everything from creating a theme for the event to registration to event production. All of San Diego’s vendors can work through these questions with you as well as other important details such as bandwidth needs.
How is San Diego addressing meeting planners’ concerns about hybrid events?
The biggest issue is that of safety, and every venue in San Diego has worked tirelessly to develop capacity charts and social distancing diagrams. Also, our destination is unique in that we can hold outdoor events all year round, and we have a number of high-quality outdoor venues throughout the region.
How can the SDTA assist meeting planners with their hybrid/virtual events?
We can serve as a resource and help connect you with the right vendors for your event. As always, your national sales director is your first stop as you think through your needs.
For more information, please contact Pascale directly at: PSenejoux@sandiego.org.