In 2020, with the unexpected outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 virus, the global MICE industry completely froze. However, even the worst crisis can encourage people to face new challenges and can be used as an opportunity for development and success. Much like other global MICE cities, Busan, Asia’s No. 5 MICE city (2019, UIA), has been experiencing difficulties amid the pandemic. Yet, despite its challenges, Busan is hoping to turn things using cutting-edge technology from the IT powerhouse that is Korea.
Hybrid events are the solution in the COVID-19 era because they take aspects of offline events that are scheduled at certain times and places and combine them with real-time online communication solutions, such as virtual conferences, holograms, telepresence, and more. Hybrid events have become a new trend in the MICE industry because they maintain social distance, incite participation, and provide a safe environment and social atmosphere that eliminates the need for traveling between countries and cities and large scale gatherings, thereby preventing the spread of the virus.
Virtual conferences and exhibitions presented as hybrid events are unique in that they feature participants in the form of avatars, making people seem as if they’re in the same real space, even though the event is taking place in a virtual space. In hybrid events, face-to-face meetings or other meetings that must be held in a real space take place offline, but other meetings and lectures are held online, allowing participants to overcome physical limitations and share information and opinions through a new type of business event.
Busan MICE Video Consulting Office (Image courtesy of BEXCO)
Busan has already proven its aptitude with hybrid events and has held the 51st KIEE Summer Conference, the Busan Cosmetics Beauty Festival, and other hybrid events. On November 18, BEXCO opened the largest ever video conference hall and studio as well as other no-contact event facilities in Busan, thereby establishing itself as a potential top MICE infrastructure in Asia in the post-COVID-19 era.
A total of 10 video consulting offices have been installed that provide the latest graphic systems, equipment, and service plans to actively support business consultations with foreign buyers who currently have difficulty traveling to Korea due to COVID-19. There are six three-person consulting offices, three six-person consulting offices, and one eight-person consulting office, all of which are equipped with the latest graphic systems and services. The office is expected to be very useful for non-contact MICE events and business consultations with buyers in Busan.
Busan MICE Virtual Studio and Information Center (Image courtesy of BEXCO)
The virtual studio, which can accommodate up to 40 people, is expected to be an active event main hall for hybrid events that combine online and offline elements. Video conferences can be conducted in a comfortable environment at the studio, which is equipped with video filming and video conference transmission systems. The studio offers everything needed for video productions, such as video cameras, broadcast, recording, editing systems, lighting, and more. Various hybrid services will soon be provided, including plenty of facilities to meet the needs of offline attendees, such as a waiting room, dressing room, and office. With the development of this type of infrastructure, Busan is ready to take off as a hybrid MICE city.
Many events held in Busan, such as G-STAR 2020 held this past November, are busy preparing for hybrid or no-contact conventions by actively adjusting to the paradigm shift being seen in the MICE industry. The concern that technological advancement may hurt the MICE industry is a thing of the past. Now, hybrid events that cross the boundary lines between online and offline events to share information and opinions are the new norm in the MICE market. Busan is now trying to transform itself into a hybrid MICE city.