How do you prepare when meeting a client for the first time or delivering that crucial presentation?
If you’d have asked me a year ago I’d have said; clean shoes, iron shirt, for the gents amongst us we’ll choose an appropriate tie, and I even have a set of cufflinks which my wife gave me that always create conversation…
All of this has now changed, as the pandemic means that we now don our “Zoom Suits” and only dress in business attire from the waist up, presenting from home in our slippers…
But as we move forward, things are likely to evolve again. Companies will want to get their people back together in person as soon as it’s safe to do so, and with the UK vaccine programme picking up pace, this may be closer than we think. Nothing works better for the charismatic sales executive than being in a room and bouncing ideas off colleagues, even if the client is remote.
Moving forward, it is my belief that there may always be someone outside the room, either because they are isolating, ill, or unable to travel due to company budgetary or environmental constraints. So the next generation meeting rooms need to be mindful of this and as such need to be a little different from the meeting rooms of old.
In the hospitality industry, we need to remember that we have so much more to offer than just the technology for meetings. However, to enable this new style of meetings to work effortlessly, getting the technology right will be vital.
Why bother to host meetings in Hospitality venues?
Hospitality venues offer so much more than being at home:
• People – welcoming, smiling, competent people who are there to help ensure your event runs smoothly and you have everything you need; no slamming doors or playing of loud music degrading your event!
• Space – where a team can meet either socially distanced, virtually or a mixture of both.
• Hospitality – food and drink on demand so that your time is spent with your team or customers doing business and networking with no trips to the kitchen required.
• A dedicated focused environment – with no doorbells ringing, homeschooling interruptions or pet distractions.
• Quality connectivity – generally hospitality has much better internet (bandwidth) than many of us have at home, ensuring the meeting or presentation goes without a glitch.
• Quality surrounding – rather than hanging a spare shower curtain behind you or worrying that the window cleaner will suddenly appear, Hospitality venues have well-appointed rooms with soft furnishings that give a much better sound & ambience to calls and discussions, whether they are on or offline.
So what tech can I add to enhance the meetings offered in my venue?
In order to offer the optimum environment for meetings at your venue, there are a few things you can ensure you have in your armoury:
• Well distributed sound – having a quality ceiling speaker system installed in your meeting rooms will ensure that the sound from a presenter or video call is heard by everyone in the room, without the need for a PA. Many sound systems hired by Events Companies are PA systems. PAs consist of a pile of speakers, they are normally in big black boxes and are either on stands, ground-stacked or hung and they blast out sound from where they are positioned, usually from the front of your room. The problem with this approach is that the first few rows of delegates can often become deafened, whereas those in the back of the room can struggle to be heard or hear. VR or vocal reinforcement does not use big black boxes, it is about lots of smaller speakers working gently across a room to evenly distribute the sound throughout the space. As the name suggests, VR reinforces the sound of the speaker’s voice via the multiple speakers positioned throughout a room. This in turn allows delegates to be spread out and still hear what is being said, without either being deafened or having to move forward and get closer to other delegates in order to hear. VR is a definite advantage in this time of social distancing.
• Large format projection and screens – making sure all of your delegates can clearly see what is being presented or discussed is important, especially with requirements for social distancing. This might mean looking at installing a ceiling-mounted or hung screen & projector to use the advantage of height available in your space. If you have limited ceiling height please see One to All & Webview below.
• BYOD – bring your own meeting is the evolution of BYOD. With everyone now capable of running video conferences and meetings via their own device at home, BYOM systems enable you to scale that meeting, with a few simple connections, to deliver the meeting on the room infrastructure: a large screen, sound system and microphone system. This enables those colleagues who are present in the room to join with remote colleagues dialing in, where everyone can see the same screen viewed in the room. The good BYOM systems have all the functionality of BYOD, but all delivered in the room as well as on the call or stream of remote colleagues.
• Whole room microphones – in order for effective BYOM and video conferencing to happen, coordination of devices is required through a centralised microphone system. If clients have an in-person meeting with remote colleagues at your venue and they want to present on one call using separate devices this will not work without coordination, as the individual devices will all interact and feedback, making it a worse experience than calling from individual kitchens or spare rooms! Discrete ceiling microphones can be installed to cover your whole meeting room and take the sound of the talking delegate onto your video call to ensure everyone is heard.
• One to All & Webview – many of the good BYOD & BYOM systems have the ability to share a presentation within a room enabling delegates to see slides on their own device and save them to their device. This is useful not only if you cannot get a big screen in place in your meeting room, but it also eliminates the need for delegates to keep disrupting the flow of the meeting by taking photographs of the projection screen.
What’s the future for larger-scale events and conferences?
How we address the need for larger-scale events and conferences in the short to medium term is a question that is topical for many businesses and one that may or may not be cost-effective to own, but it’s something you may be asked to consider:
• Virtual events – these kinds of events do not need to be hosted by hospitality venues, they require a large dedicated space, a stage and a green screen background, which can enable you to present just about anything you want to a remote clientele. If this is something you want to explore you will need to talk to your Events Company. The equipment you will need may not be something you want to own, but instead hire in and then offer on to clients as another meeting option!
• Hybrid meetings – these are like large scale BYOMs for presentations and conferences for large numbers of delegates. You can now run meetings in your larger spaces with a video call or stream going out to remote delegates, routing presenters, radio microphones and on screen presentations to a stream or call as well as showing this on screen for the distanced delegates in the room. This type meeting is likely to be something you would want to get your events company involved with to ensure it runs smoothly for all delegates wherever they are and to make the event as dynamic as possible, but you need to get the in room AV infrastructure right to make it happen.
What can I do now?
Whatever type of meeting you are facilitating, and however technology evolves to meet the needs of our ever changing world, CGA are here to help you get the most from your meeting rooms.