Hybrid tastings are here

Work has changed forever. I won’t bore you with how because you know already. Our collective adoption of Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and other platforms has shown us all new methods of communication. With this adoption comes profound change (for most of us) on how, when, and in some cases if, we travel to the office in the future.

How this plays out in events is going to be interesting. The new mix of event participants include those clamouring for a return to in-person events, desperate to get away from the boring, poorly executed virtual meetings they’ve been subjected to, and those on newly minted home contracts, whose company office has been closed, and who have fully embraced the virtual world.

A straight and pure regression back to the pre covid event world ignores the general direction of travel, just as much as a purely virtual offer assumes we are all stuck in a perpetual lockdown loop, unable to get out even if we try.

‘Be where your audience is’ a known marketing maxim, and where your audience is for an event on any given day may well be difficult to determine. Are they in their home office, or at their London headquarters? Will your event be inclusive and cater for all parties?

This is where hybrid comes in, but what does the word mean in event terms? Hybrid is a simultaneous, seamless integration of a virtual and in-person event, with a clear and consistent focus on all guests, whether they are in the room or participating from their laptop.

As with all events, the devil is in the detail. Successful hybrid event delivery relies on defining objectives, a winning format, proper planning, effective marketing, technical understanding, effective allocation of resources, great communication, proper attention to detail, and fully committed, first class event management on the day (both in the room and remotely).

Most of all it relies on embracing what we’ve learnt, and never assuming what worked yesterday will work today.

Pip Martin is the Founder of The Tasting Quarter, a Corporate Wine Tasting & Specialist Events Company. After management positions in Harrod’s Foodhall, Pip became Corporate Events Manager at Richard Branson’s online wine merchant, Virgin Wines, where he hosted over 200 wine events in a little over 15 months for companies including BBC, Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers and JP Morgan.

Since 2002, via The Tasting Quarter, Pip and his team have produced and hosted tastings in Spain, Russia and South Africa and co-hosted events in Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Switzerland for groups of 10 to 3000+. He has run virtual, hybrid and AI augmented tastings for companies including AVMI, Oracle, Adobe, Google and Cisco. He also counts all the Magic Circle law firms in the UK as repeat clients for in-person events.

Pip’s media work has included wine presenting on Sky One’s Taste programme and BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. Writing credits include wine articles for Condé Nast’s Gourmet Travel and Esquire.