Oslofjord takes the lead in developing new meeting places

The Hybrid Studio at Oslofjord Convention Center

ICCA is the International Congress and Convention Association. An organization with more than 1100 members in almost 100 countries. The annual ICCA Congress is the number one meeting place for members, and has been held every year since 1963. It is with a little bit of pride, that we now are being recognized in the international industry.

When the pandemic hit us and we could not meet as we usually do, we had to think outside the box in order to create alternative ways of meeting. In collaboration with a very innovative and important customer, we developed a solution that has put us on the map. Fellow industry colleagues are now recognizing our innovation, and are using us as an example internationally. As a result, we are considered to be an important contributor in the international meeting market, and therefore Oslofjord got to speak during this year’s congress.

Our own Stian Fuglset, spoke to, and with, industry colleagues from around the world live from our studio. He talked about the Oslofjord Hybrid Event – our unique studio, and the experiences we have made during this difficult time. In this studio, meetings and conferences that combines physical attendance with live TV can be held. The viewers can participate interactively via PC, mobile or tablet – from anywhere in the world! This is particularly relevant in times like now, with severe restrictions on the number of participants.

Even though we still find ourselves in somewhat of a standstill, and live under strict restrictions, there will be a new and bright future. In this “new future”, we clearly see a great potential for hybrid meetings. Amongst the many reasons, is the fact that customers in the conference industry are becoming more demanding when it comes to the entertainment factor. There is a growing trend with higher show factor, interactivity and humor, rather than the traditional lecture approach.

From a cost perspective, it is also more profitable to be able to combine physical and digital attendance. Suddenly you can invite that Yale professor, who once inspired you, to give a speech or lecture, without having to pay for travel, accommodation and other additional costs.

There are also several large multinational corporations that will face many challenges, and large costs, if they were to gather all their employees in one place. But a hybrid meeting solution would make this possible! All the employees from one country, could be gathered as a physical audience in the studio, and participants from all the other countries can join in digitally. The digital participants can communicate directly with both the studio and the audience, at the same time as they see everything that goes on on stage. Our hybrid studio also makes it possible to broadcast from several locations, which offers endless possibilities for hybrid meeting places, also in the “new future”.

There is no secret that the pandemic hit our industry, and Oslofjord, hard. But our hybrid studio is a fantastic innovation to undermine the fact that we are an adaptable player who invests heavily in the future. This crisis requires ongoing adjustments in accordance with the restrictions at any given time, and Hybrid Event gives us the flexibility we need. Even though we cannot meet as we used to yet, we can “meet” through hybrid solutions. We are proud of our product, and we hope that the rest of Vestfold, and Norway, also can be proud of a local development that has taken place at a time when many, including Oslofjord, had to downsize.

After Covid-19, hybrid events are no longer limited to a small number of participants. When we no longer have restrictions on the number of participants, we can combine the best of both worlds. Virtual encounters will never be the same as real human interaction, with real emotions and feelings, but bringing a digital component into events, clearly has some great benefits.

We want to encourage everyone out there to stand together in these difficult times, adapt to the situation and be optimistic. Optimism is not a denial of the present stage, but a belief that the future will be bright.

We will meet again!