Organisations can once more plan in-person events in Bristol thanks to a joint initiative from England’s Core Cities Group, called Hybrid Event Solutions UK (HESUK).

HESUK is a support structure that allows for national and regional events to take place across multiple COVID-secure venues around the UK and through virtual spaces simultaneously. UK businesses can take advantage of the scheme for free. 

The initiative was developed by the convention bureaus of Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle Gateshead, and Birmingham in response to the ongoing struggles of the live events industry due to strict social distancing measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

Room with projectors

Digital support, human touch

Delegates can attend national conferences in regional hubs, with live-streaming technology broadcasting events to connected venues so attendees can participate even when they are in different locations.

Event organisers will only have to work with one point of contact to find venues and set up conferences until they have signed contracts with their chosen venues. HESUK has expert staff in each city to contact venues that are registered with the “We’re Good to Go” industry standard set by Visit Britain.  

HESUK will be responsible for providing the required technology to enable seamless hybrid events for delegates attending in-person throughout the participating cities and for those attending via online channels. Event marketing, social media, and PR support, as well as help with sourcing hotel accommodation, will also be available for companies looking to host events with HESUK. 

Pandemic-induced paradigm shift

The impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the country’s meetings and events industry cannot be overstated. From the cancellations of large-scale conferences to the mass transition toward teleconferencing, the current paradigm shift has forced organisations to adapt to current circumstances quickly. 

Heather Lishman, director of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), had this to say about HESUK: 

“The Hybrid Events Solution UK is an example of how the conference and events industry is innovating and working together to support each other through this damaging period,” Heather Lishman, director of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) said. “It’s wonderful to see this level of collaboration from the English Core Cities.”

“Live conferences and events have ceased as we continue the fight against Covid-19. Going into 2021 there is a strong desire to get live events back, to have people meeting face to face, networking, sharing and learning together. Creating a hybrid event is a solution to enable this, as the world navigates its way through the pandemic with rapid testing and vaccines on the horizon,” Lishman added. 

The future of conferences

Lishman’s sentiment about hybrid events being an avenue for conferences seems to be where the industry at large is moving towards. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) stated in its COVID-19 Affected Meetings Report that 84% of association planners intend to include hybrid and digital elements in their events in the future.

Continuing on HESUK’s role in restarting live events in the country, Lishman said, “The biggest challenge is confidence; organising a series of live event hubs across several destinations is a big logistical challenge, therefore we welcome this solution which seeks to make the process easier for organisers, which should get people meeting as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Bristol is in a prime position to pave the way for more hybrid events that make full use of digital solutions that bring people together, with its robust technological infrastructure and financial support for businesses. 

Meet Bristol & Bath convention bureau manager Amy Bramhall expressed excitement for the scheme’s launch.

“We’re thrilled to be part of HESUK as we launch our new convention bureau at Meet Bristol & Bath. We hope that by being part of the initiative, we can best support the events industry here in the West, as and when restrictions allow conferences to resume,” said Bramhall.
Organisers who want to partner with HESUK in running live-streamed hybrid events can visit their site.

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