How Redesigning a Hybrid Event's Physical Space Led to Other Changes

Source : PCMA

Author: Michelle Russell

Sam Lippman shares the thinking behind the Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum’s first hybrid event, which will have a reimagined program — and physical space — design.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum (ECEF), but in many respects, ECEF 2021 — making its debut as a hybrid event — will feel entirely new. Produced by Lippman Connects, the in-person ECEF 21 will take place Nov. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, with a program online Nov. 1-5.

For its first 18 years, the face-to-face event was held in late May/early June. The 2020 edition was moved to the fall in the hopes that COVID would be under control by then, but then became a fully digital event. “When we were looking at dates for 2021,” said Sam Lippman, president and founder of Lippman Connects, “we felt that the best chance we would have of meeting in person would be to continue to put it into the fourth quarter. So, we moved it as close to Thanksgiving as we could.”

But finding dates in the fourth quarter, Lippman found “is nigh on impossible, especially considering I wanted champagne on a beer budget and that ECEF is not a high-revenue event,” he said. “And I didn’t want to be one-third of a ballroom and sharing it with cheerleaders and pipefitters.”

Lippman said that he was able to find a space — the Hyatt’s Independence Center — that kept the event in the D.C. area. “That was crucial because that’s where associations are located,” he said. The site, he added, is “unique in that it gave me all of the room I needed to spread out or contract as needed based on COVID realities a year in advance.”

One thing that won’t change is keeping the in-person program to a one-day event. “The No. 1 piece of feedback I’ve heard over the years,” he said, is, “’I love the one-day event; I can get in the night before and get out the next day and conduct a lot of business.’”

Lippman recently shared with Convene a draft of the event floorplan — and the thinking behind the event’s physical and program redesign.

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