More in-person programmes to meet the “endemic-induced” demand as experts say hybrid formats will remain to cater to the MZ generation.

Large-scale international events to be held in Seoul in the second half of this year are set to have more in-person programmes, capitalising on the endemic-induced special demand. The Korea Blockchain Week 2022 (KBW2022), scheduled for August 7-12, is an offline-only event, with 2,800 Koreans and 1,500 foreign participants expected to visit. In addition to offline lectures and seminars, KBW 2022 is receiving a great deal of attention after it announced the resumption of a pre-pandemic after-party featuring the world’s best DJs.

In addition, the 2022 Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council (APSCC 2022, October 18-20) are expected to bring in 750 foreign participants (and 1,000 Korean participants). The Asian Australasian Congress of Anaesthesiologists (AACA 2022, November 10-13) and the 11th World Coffee Leaders Forum (WCLF 2022, November 23-26) will likely be attended by more than 1,000 foreigners. Unlike previous events held on a limited scale due to Covid-19, this year’s events will feature a variety of offline events.

More hybrid events expected

Three years into the pandemic, Seoul’s business events industry has officially begun to attract “offline” participants. Online and hybrid events held for the past two years under social distancing guidelines will likely continue. Experts in Seoul say business events will be upgraded to a higher level starting in the second half of 2022.

Hee-gon Hwang, a professor at Hallym University of Graduate Studies, said, “Overriding views of MICE experts are that MICE will undergo a wave of reorganisation and meetings will increasingly be held in a hybrid format and exhibitions in an offline format going forward.”

He added, “In the post-pandemic era, MICE will be held largely in a format preferred by the MZ generations that will play a leading role in the MICE industry with the input of new and fresh ideas.”

Although some voiced concerns that it is premature to declare a shift to the endemic, domestic and overseas MICE businesses are gradually shifting from virtual to in-person events, increasing the proportion of offline events.

Amid a shift to offline, will the MICE platform Virtual Seoul 2.0 evolve into 3.0?

Virtual Seoul, a virtual meeting and exhibition platform developed by the Seoul Tourism Organization in 2020 during the pandemic, was renewed and upgraded to Virtual Seoul 2.0 in November last year. Virtual Seoul 2.0 served its purpose well during the pandemic with its various functions, such as 1:1 business matching and video consultation as well as a content management system (CMS) that helps users to tailor the platform to their event.

Seoul Convention Bureau says there is a plan to upgrade Virtual Seoul to evolve into an essential hybrid meeting solution from a platform dedicated to virtual meetings and events held during the pandemic. “With in-person events becoming possible, more MICE organisers are demanding hybrid meetings. However, holding hybrid events means higher budgets and more resources when labour, service and facility costs are all rising. Virtual Seoul 2.0 can be a perfect alternative that MICE organisers and agencies can adopt as a free-of-charge enabler of hybrid meetings.

The Seoul Tourism Organization plans to further enhance Virtual Seoul 2.0 as an easy-to-use solution to revitalise in-person MICE events.

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