Back in March, we were just over halfway through the academic year and on track for our busiest 12 months to date, so it was exciting times for Strathclyde’s Conferencing and Events team! However, as we’ve all experienced, life has taken a bit of an unexpected turn over the last six months, and the events landscape has changed almost overnight.
During a webinar we joined recently, the words ‘adaptability’ and ‘agility’ were used on numerous occasions, highlighting the importance of developing attitudes and working practices to remain competitive in an ever-changing and challenging environment. This process is commonly referred to as ‘pivoting’, and we’ve been working hard to pivot our own approach, to ensure they meet the needs of our clients in our new reality.
The past six months have demonstrated that technology is now absolutely fundamental in terms of delivering events and keeping people connected. Our regular Zoom catch-ups (including some team-building fun after work!) mean that we’re all much more familiar with virtual events, and this will certainly set us in good stead moving forward. We’re lucky that we work in the ‘Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC)’ which feels very apt at the moment given the new-found focus on technology.
Located in the very heart of Glasgow and easily accessible for all transport, we like to think that TIC is the ideal venue for a hybrid conference. We had already installed state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities in one of our conference rooms, and now all of TIC’s four auditoria and ten conference rooms are equipped with webcams, resident PCs and hard-wired internet access, meaning straightforward video conferencing, streaming and webinars are simple, and come at no extra cost. Organisers can use the platform of their choice, or ask us to set up a virtual meeting environment on Zoom.
It’s also possible to stream larger plenary sessions, with the support of our friendly in-house technicians. TIC’s flexible, interconnected conferencing spaces mean that proceedings from the Main Auditorium can be streamed to the Level 1 Auditorium, to the Conference Rooms on Level 3, and even to spaces elsewhere on campus – boosting the overall capacity of a conference, and allowing delegates to network together, at a safe distance, in the same central foyer spaces.
The venue’s fast, free and reliable WiFi network makes it easy for delegates to join Q&A sessions via web-based solutions, to access abstracts and connect with virtual delegates via conference apps, and of course to Tweet about the conference while they’re onsite.
For hybrid conferences with more complex programmes and specific technical requirements, we’ve been in constant dialogue with both local and national audio-visual providers, who are well-placed to offer advice on best-fit solutions and with whom we enjoy working collaboratively. TIC’s central location and easy connectivity mean that our comfortable, contemporary conference rooms are the perfect backdrop to a studio environment which acts as a base for your keynote speakers.
Prior to March, we had been working with a number of our academic colleagues to provide Conference Management Services, including registration, abstract management, conference apps and websites, through EventsAIR. Over the past six months, the team has been getting up to speed with OnAIR, a virtual platform offered via EventsAIR, to fully deliver conferences online.
OnAIR takes virtual conferences to a new and more interactive level, providing the opportunity to hold poster sessions, online exhibitions, discussion forums and networking on one handy platform. The team recently delivered its first event online – the launch of the Scotland 5G Centre, a collaboration with the Scottish Government, the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Futures Trust which is based at Strathclyde - and we’re looking forward to many more!
Of course, whilst hybrid and virtual events have become an essential part of daily life to keep us all feeling connected, the social interaction which comes from face-to-face events is still so valuable and something which many of us miss more than we thought. So, we’ve been busy making changes to our facilities ensuring that we’re providing a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment for our clients and delegates. We can’t wait to welcome you back when it is safe to do so, but in the meantime, if you’d like further information on how we can help, either virtually or face-to-face then please do get in touch!