The future of events: How industry conferences and big gatherings will work after the pandemic

Merging physical and digital: A crowd at The International, Valve’s Dota 2 eSports tournament in Seattle in 2017, three years before the pandemic. (GeekWire file photo / Kevin Lisota)

The pandemic had a seismic impact on face-to-face meetings and events, requiring organizers and attendees to adapt to a whole new reality.

The aftermath could prove even more tricky, creating a hybrid audience with some people participating virtually and others in person.

Allie Magyar, Hubb CEO

But remember, “Hybrid simply means that there are a variety of different experiences. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be at the same time. “

That is a finding from our conversation with Allie Magyar, CEO of Hubb, a Vancouver, Washington-based company that creates technology for virtual and in-person events. A veteran of the events industry, Magyar has hosted some of the largest tech conferences in the world, including Microsoft’s Ignite, for which she was the lead planner.

She said it was important not to lose some of the best aspects of digital event experiences as we transition out of the pandemic.

“Not only do I learn from the speaker in a digital experience, but I also learn from every other person attending this session,” she said. “I learned that during the implementation. That’s how I feel. That is my most important finding from it. “

GeekWire File Photos / Kevin Lisota

A recent announcement from Salesforce Regarding the future of the Dreamforce conference is a good example of what to expect at major events, said Magyar: a unified event consisting of regional gatherings in multiple cities, with an accompanying digital experience, with face-to-face presence that requires vaccination .

As we emerge from the era of social distancing, many people in the tech and other industries are wondering what events will be like and how they will work.

Our team at GeekWire asks many of these questions as we look forward to the next issue of our own tech conference, the GeekWire Summit.

  • What should the virtual experience look like? How can it be successfully combined with the experience for the local people?
  • Do people really want to sit in a ballroom and listen to the meetings, or do they want to interact and socialize with their peers after 18 months of seclusion?
  • What types of health and safety precautions must be taken?
  • How will this new hybrid world change the business and finances of events?
  • Will people still be willing to travel long distances to major events?

Magyar answers those questions in this episode of the GeekWire podcast. She also offers her input on events like ours and talks about Hubb’s transition through the pandemic and the expansion to virtual event technology after focusing primarily on in-person events prior to the pandemic.

Hubb’s business grew 500% last year, Magyar said. It is currently # 115 on the GeekWire 200, our index of leading private companies in the Pacific Northwest, is 12 places higher than the previous month, reflecting recent employee growth.

Founded in 2015, the company has reportedly raised $ 9.44 million in funding PitchBook. His biggest round of funding was a $ 6.3 million investment in October 2018, led by Five Elms Capital, with participation from former investors Oregon Venture Fund and Elevate Capital.

Listen above and subscribe to the GeekWire podcast wherever you hear it.

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