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Are You Ready to Lead in a Hybrid 2021?

COVID-19 has transformed more than event management

Of all the changes that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) has delivered to an association’s bottom line, the disruptions in meetings is likely the most unsettling. Even if your association’s 2020 conference was insured against a forced closure, the virtual replacement likely wasn’t the same kind of revenue driver. (And in a tough economic time, many associations opted to make the event available for free or at a deep discount.) For leaders, the disruption can be more existential: How do you lead your members when you can’t meet them in person?

In the latest issue of Associations Now, I wrote about how these shifts have prompted associations to start thinking about hybrid meetings. When I started working on the story in July, I was still hearing about associations that had tentative plans to combine in-person with virtual meetings. But for the most part they eventually went virtual only. Now that there’s more clarity about the impact of the pandemic—and optimism about a vaccine—hybrid events are positioned to be back on the agenda in 2021.

It’s a trend that’s overdue, said Sarah Michel, vice president of professional connexity at Velvet Chainsaw, an association meetings consulting firm, who told me that more hybrids are coming. “We’ve been preaching to our clients, which is 99.9 percent associations, that they needed to have a virtual strategy for their annual meeting in particular,” she said. “And most associations were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll get to that.’ Everybody kept putting it off… But there’s no way that [COVID-19] is not going to impact the meetings we’re working on.”

Please select this link to read the complete article from Associations Now.

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