By Kaitlyn Wallace
Balancing tech and interpersonal needs during meetings and events has always been challenging. Especially in the post-COVID era, attendees’ desire to return to normal by close interpersonal interaction is often pitted against the health and safety concerns that tip the scales towards tech-mediated interactions. These concerns are compounded by the limited staffing created by what experts are calling “The Great Resignation”– a trend characterized by demands from employees for better workplace culture, personal wellness, and work-life balance.
Fortunately, the use of tech and automation continues to evolve with continually shifting demand. There are now a variety of accessible ways for meeting and event planners to combat staffing shortages by incorporating new tech into their planning practices.
Streamlining Attendee-Staff Interaction
One way to bypass current staffing bottlenecks is to streamline attendee-staff interaction. Instead of the slow and personnel-heavy process of in-person check-in/check-out, placing food and beverage orders, and fulfilling simple requests, many planners have begun to incorporate mobile apps for a variety of processes traditionally handled by hotel or event staff.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
2021 and the early months of 2022 have proven just how unpredictable the COVID-19 situation can be. Despite our best efforts and best hopes, hybrid and virtual events are not going away any time soon. Instead of focusing energy desperately trying to make in-person events feasible under tight constraints, planners have begun to turn their attention towards improving virtual and hybrid experiences.
Virtual reality, for example, can provide a fulfilling experience for hybrid attendees by making creating a realistic attendance experience. Augmented reality can create spaces for interaction between virtual and in-person attendees, bringing back the interpersonal flavor of meetings and events in a new and exciting way. Investing in hybrid technology allows planners to continue to produce exciting, high-quality events rather than using Band-Aid solutions with low-quality tech and diminishing value for virtual attendees.
Help From Holograms
Holograms have often represented a hallmark of futuristic tech, staying far in the future while other symbols, like touchscreens and data integration, have become integrated into daily life. But holograms are finally coming out of the realm of science fiction and into the present, with major video production companies beginning to offer hologram services more regularly and at a slightly more affordable price. The utility of holograms, especially during the Great Resignation, is obvious– holograms can replace greeting staff, serve as celebrity guests, and even give speeches or presentations, with some limits, all without adding to the COVID risk inside of a venue.
The Great Resignation has put additional strains on the meeting and events industry’s slow recovery. Though ultimately staffing shortages can only be solved by acknowledging the changing landscape of event support work, stopgap measures like streamlining attendee-staff interaction, investing in AR and VR, and looking into new and exciting solutions (like hologram support) will help planners continue to craft high-value events, even with limited resources.
Kaitlyn Wallace is a contributing writer from St. Louis.