Hybrid events, combining live participation and a virtual component, are gaining ground and set to become the next big thing in MICE events, according to the findings of the “Conferences vs Pandemic” event which took place during the Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum last week.
The roundtable focused on the need for Greece to proceed swiftly with its digital transformation by mainly attracting investments in the field and through the introduction of hybrid events in an effort to reignite tourism.
Speaking at the event, Kyriakos Pozrikidis, CEO of TIF-Helexpo, underlined the importance of MICE tourism, stressing that there was now more than ever a need to change strategy.
Citing UFI Global Association of the Exhibition Industry data, Pozrikidis said that in 2020, exhibition activity dropped by one-third compared to previous years with a loss of 158 billion euros in turnover, 2 million jobs, and 260 million euros in contracts.
“Digital exhibitions have no secondary impact on the local growth economy. The exhibition center is not only infrastructure with financial character, but also with a social impact. Exhibitions with physical presence will never be replaced,” he said.
Referring to the pandemic, Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said 2021 may start off similar to 2020 and that the formulation of the country’s tourism product for the year ahead will be a challenge.
In this direction, Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Vicky Loizou underlined the importance of carefully formulating exhibition, conference and business tourism and developing relevant services and infrastructure.
“Taking advantage of the new model of hybrid events and with a specific plan, we can make the country competitive in this area as well,” she said.
Conference events must restart in Greece, said Theodore Vokos, executive director of Posidonia Exhibitions, organizer of the country’s largest and most influential shipping event – the Posidonia, which this year was canceled due to the pandemic.
“Digital transformation is a necessary evil, but not a one-way street. The hybrid model is inevitable, but it’s not enough for us,” said Vokos.