Clearwater Beach, Fla, March 17, 2021 — The COVID-19 pandemic, now in its second year, has dramatically changed the way we all do business. Our once beloved conferences and corporate meetings have gone virtual, postponed, or even canceled. These key events which helped bring us together with our teams and our colleagues across the globe, put aside out of respect for the global pandemic. Yet as we look towards 2021, some businesses are asking for a new experience, a way to connect safely while keeping some sense of a pre-COVID event. Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater is answering that call with their Hybrid Meeting & Event program.
As described by Director of Information Technology at Sheraton Sand Key, Omar Rocha, a Hybrid Meeting blends elements of in-person attendance with a robust virtual element. A limited number of in-person attendees are welcomed into on-site, closely following CDC social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. Simultaneously, attendees from across the globe log onto a virtual platform that allows them to access live streams, breakout sessions, and a resource library. For an attendee to participate all they need is a strong internet connection and an invite.
When planning for a hybrid event, Rocha explains that the key is proper planning. The Sheraton team has created a detailed planning guide that helps event planners through the process. What makes planning a hybrid event unique is that the host is plotting out the journey of the attendee. How is a virtual attendee going to interact with the in-person participants? What will a virtual attendee see or hear? Which experiences will be unique to virtual attendees and what is the value of those experiences? Finally, and arguably the most important question, how can you use the new platform to create a richer event experience?
Choosing an event location is crucial to the success of these hybrid events. Early in 2020, Sheraton Sand Key saw that the need for hybrid options would only continue to grow in the coming months and years. In preparation, the hotel invested in new high-tech equipment including video cameras, intelligent sound systems, and electronic displays with a full team of support staff to manage them. This modern infrastructure not only allows the hotel to execute high-quality events but also keeps costs low for hosts.
The results speak for themselves. Hybrid meetings and events have become the hotel’s most popular offering. Clients have found that the inclusion of a virtual element will increase their event attendance and attract attendees from across the globe. Cindy Perras, Sales Director & Event Management at RYMARK International came to the Sheraton Sand Key in hopes of taking a regular 350 attendee conference and adapting it to the global pandemic. “As a planner, and in my experience with the Sheraton Sand Key, the team not only stepped up to the challenges of hosting a hybrid event but exceeded expectations. In collaboration with the group, the Sheraton Sand Key’s team ensured that the event was enjoyable for all in-person and virtual conference participants, and successful for the group.”
About the Sheraton Sand Key Resort: Sheraton Sand Key Resort is located directly on the beach at Sand Key. Offering 390 rooms and suites overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway, the resort offers a legacy of exceptional hospitality serving guests from around the world.
For more information, visit www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasi-sheraton-sand-key-resort/.