Sarah Beall explains how Forum events went digital • Hotel Designs

Hotel Designs LIVE, the one-day virtual conference that took place last month, is the collective result of an adaptable team that put content first. The four seminars provide editorial focus on integral topics and discussions, while inviting relevant vendors to showcase their latest products. The parent company – the infrastructure, if you will – behind hotel designs is Forum Events & Media. And in order to share how the company is adapting and able to host virtual events such as Hotel Designs LIVE, we caught up with its chief executive, Sarah Beall.

Hotel Designs: How did Forum Events & Media transition from live to virtual events during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Sarah Beall: Our forums and summits are different from expos or other large-scale B2B events – they facilitate supply and demand and serve their industries by bringing buyers and suppliers together for a series of pre-arranged face-to-face meetings.

We tackled the Covid-19 crisis head-on by using our cutting-edge proprietary matchmaking software to create an interface for live video meetings in a “virtual forum” environment, bringing our live experience online .

HD: How was this achieved and what role did technology play during the transition?

SB: By shifting our focus from live events to virtual events, we can continue to meet the expectations of our exhibitor partners and delegates. Our meeting software is bespoke – we tasked our development team with integrating it with a video conferencing platform, so we can now create and deliver a live itinerary of pre-arranged meetings for the participants.

“Our virtual format replicates our live events” – Sarah Beall, Managing Director, Forum Events & Media.

HD: How can people attend your virtual events and how do they work?

SB: Our virtual format replicates our live events, bringing together 65 key decision makers with 35 industry vendors. The event registration process is exactly the same for delegates and vendors – the only difference is that all meetings are held online as opposed to a physical location.

HD: What are the main benefits of virtual events for your supplier partners?

SB: It’s too easy to hide in the sand and wait for this pandemic to pass, but at Forum we know how important it is to stay in touch with our customers and create new business relationships with future prospects. . Our virtual forums are a powerful way to do business and stay connected from anywhere in the world.

HD: What are the main benefits of virtual events for your attending delegates?

SB: For anyone working in procurement, events and meetings are key to success. Supplier relationships all start with a first meeting and getting to know the products. But for now, companies will want to reduce the risk of their employees catching the coronavirus, so we expect them to do their due diligence on whether they can attend live events. In response, we’re offering a safe solution for everyone, with buyers and suppliers meeting via video call from the comfort of their home office.

HD: Will virtual events work alongside live events as part of the “new normal”?

SB: Live events are where deals are made and new products are put into the hands of a buyer – I don’t see that changing. However, as we emerge from lockdown, hybrid events that offer live and virtual attendees the opportunity to meet trusted vendors can only help expand the market and increase vendor exports around the world.

HD: How does Forum intend to develop its offer of virtual events in the future?

SB: Our virtual platform will allow us to hold our forums and summits around the world, enter new industries and connect even more buyers and suppliers.

We look forward to welcoming attendees to our live events from September and have implemented a Covid safe risk assessment at all our locations.

But we are prepared and ready to launch our forums from this month in four sectors via our virtual platform. And we will continue to serve the industries by hosting hybrid live and virtual events that are Covid-safe throughout the year and beyond, if needed.

Interior Design & Architecture Summit takes place on September 2 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf.

Hotel Summit takes place on 23-24 November at the Five Lakes Hotel, Colchester.

Jennifer C. Burleigh