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Back to live: ‘My first event since March was like London 2012!’

Sam Robson, group events director at The Appointment Group (TAG) explains why she “felt a rush of adrenaline” when she recently attended her first live event in months…

The initial excitement of an invitation to a live event was replaced by a little trepidation as I travelled by train from the suburbs into central London for the first time in seven months.

The events, travel and hospitality industry has both embraced and surpassed its own and government guidelines to be able to ply our trade in a safe and secure manner and this event was one of a few opportunities in the UK to prove it.

‘Ready to Rise’ is a Hilton global engagement initiative, kick-started by a Hilton Hybrid Event on Tuesday 20 October in front of a small live audience at the Conrad St James, London, a rather larger one at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, Virginia and thousands of global virtual attendees to showcase the hotel chain’s Covid journey.

Having celebrated its 100th birthday last year, the brand had seen many disasters and depressions, but the depth and global impact of the current pandemic is proving a major test to us all. Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s president and CEO, was guided by his three Ps – protecting people, both staff and guests, protecting the business and preparing for recovery.

Power, connection and engagement

Hilton’s CleanStay product was developed to give assurance to employees and travellers whilst working or staying in any of the hotels in the 18 brand portfolio. EventReady is a complementary initiative designed to instil confidence in organisers and attendees to meet safely through a series of consist practices, protocols and quality checks and today’s event demonstrated this in practice perfectly. The fast-paced event also included a live panel discussion in Singapore, McLean and London answering many audience questions.

During the live phase of this hybrid showcase I felt a rush of adrenaline and tension last experienced during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London; wanting a perfect execution as if it was one of my own events. And, of course, nothing failed, and I sensed the same elation at the close. My experience in the Conrad St James was also every bit as safe and secure as in the Olympic Stadium eight years ago.

Live events create a power, connection and engagement which is hard to replicate virtually. My Hilton hybrid experience demonstrated the partnership of proactive venues, creative production and event agencies. Imaginative clients and positive audiences can generate almost the same buzz.

So, for the moment, the fusion of live and virtual is our best way forward. Let’s show off our industry’s innovation and creative technology.