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Liverpool has become the first UK city to join an international alliance which could see it host more major business events.

The Hybrid Cities Alliance brings together more than 20 cities from around the world to work together on ‘multi-city hub’ events; where attendees can meet face-to-face in hubs located in different cities or countries, but all connected via an online platform. 

This type of event has steadily grown in popularity in recent years, before rocketing due to Covid-19. The last year has shown the limitations of digital-only events, and feedback has underlined the preference of meeting in person. However with travel restrictions between countries continuing to be unpredictable, the hub format offers a reliable way for people to attend events in person without having to travel across the world.

Now, Liverpool Convention Bureau, the agency responsible for attracting national and international business events to the city region, has signed a contract to become the first city in the UK to join alongside the likes of Geneva, Sydney and Seoul.

The city’s convention centre, ACC Liverpool, has continued to develop its products throughout the pandemic such as offering hybrid and virtual events. Any of its venue spaces can be converted into a professional hybrid studio, using onsite high-spec equipment, experienced technicians and reliable internet connections. It can securely stream sessions live to an event website; from a single session with one presenter to a virtual panel session with presenters in different locations – or multiple sessions at the same time. 

The venue recently held its first fully virtual event – The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Annual Congress. A total of six sessions featuring 300 different speakers were hosted by Glisser, a virtual and hybrid event platform that engages delegates by turning events into experiences. ACC Liverpool’s production team created a bespoke website for ‘on demand’ videos of the presentations. Delegates were able to view the sessions live during the conference or for three months after the meeting.

Jennifer Jensen, head of Liverpool Convention Bureau, said: “With international travel almost non-existent over the last year, business events have been dealt a severe blow. Combine this with increased pressure on budgets and a focus on sustainability, and it’s clear there are many challenges to overcome.

“However, as shown by the pilot events the city recently hosted, people are still desperate to meet in person. The industry has responded by looking at new ways of doing events, and I firmly believe the multi-city hub format is here to stay and can benefit Liverpool. For example, if the main city hub for an event is in Sydney but it’s difficult for people to travel there due to Covid restrictions, Liverpool could be the European hub for it and welcome delegates the same way we do for normal events.”

The Hybrid Cities Alliance has recently published a white paper about hybrid events, which can be read here:

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