Innovation is going to be key in this new era of meetings. As event professionals adapt to virtual and hybrid meetings, Houston First, the DMO for Houston, has unveiled a new broadcast studio inside the George R. Brown Convention Center. The Avenida Houston Virtual Studio gives planners the flexibility to host virtual, in-person and hybrid meetings in the 5,250-sq.-ft. permanent studio.
Planners don’t have to worry about having to limit the number of presenters as the studio allows organizers to incorporate an infinite number with or without an audience. Presenters can be integrated from any location, and small groups, such as panelists and audiences, can be included from the studio location or multiple live locations.
“The pandemic has created a number of challenges, but our team is committed to finding opportunities for safe and functional solutions that will lead the city and the hospitality industry into recovery,” said Michael Heckman, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation. “Discovering new technology, new possibilities, and new partnerships will not only keep our community safe but allow our economy to rebound.”
Another new technology the convention center will welcome is a biodefence air filtration technology or Integrated Viral Protection system. The George R. Brown Convention Center will be the first convention center in the country to use this groundbreaking technology that is proven to eliminate 99% of SARS-CoV2, 99.8% of anthrax spores and other airborne containments through a heated filter without impacting the temperature of the ambient air.
This “Catch and Kill” biodefense air filtration system helps Houston bring meetings back and gives planners a solution to combat COVID-19 and ensure their attendees will be safe. The convention center also has 15 thermal scanning devices inside the building and electrostatic sprayers that clean up to 54,000 square feet of surface area per hour.
Connect spoke with Heckman and Dr. Peel, the principal behind the IVP system, about how the new virtual studio and IVP will impact the future of meetings.
1. How did the idea for the IVP come about?
Monzer Hourani invented the biodefense system in late March to offer a solution for indoor mitigation of COVID- 19. He felt we needed a technology to help students and teachers return to school and businesses open with a sense of security to breathe with confidence and be prepared for the next pandemic.
2. How does it work?
The mobile units are powerful and circulate the air eight to 10 times an hour. The goal is to provide the cleanest, freshest air as possible while being the only technology proven to destroy airborne actual SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) instantaneously.
3. Are there plans to use the IVP system at other event venues?
Yes. The mobile units and HVAC heated filter will be deployed to schools, venues, places of worship, hospitals and in flight to mitigate the airborne spread of COVID-19.
4. Where did the name “Catch and Kill” come from?
The heated heap not only catches and filters the air but destroys the virus on contact. Typical HEPA and MERV filters are not effective in eliminating the virus and are proven to pass on the active virus to the circulating air.
5. How do you think the IVP will change how meetings are held?
The technology will hopefully provide us an opportunity to let the world know Houston is open for business and is enhancing the environment with proven COVID killing technology so meeting attendees can breathe with even more confidence.
To learn more about the IVP technology, visit ivpair.com.
1. Was the studio already in progress or was it a new creation with the onset of COVID-19?
It was a reaction to the enormous change in the industry. We wanted to pivot and see how we could provide a solution for our customers. They are in difficult positions too, so they have to be able to communicate and hold meetings of some kind. Hopefully, this is a solution for them.
2. Is the virtual studio open yet?
We’ve done several virtual tours with several potential clients, local companies and local nonprofits. We’ve also met with our meetings markets and have had interest from several of our meeting clients as well.
3. Is the studio ideal for both association and corporate groups?
Yes. We’ll provide to a corporate, association or a local group. We want to make sure we are providing options and have the use of our center as much as possible, being that it’s such an empty time right now.
4. Can you explain a little about the setup of the virtual studio? Is there a platform (such as Zoom or Google Meet) that is used with the studio to broadcast presenters?
We’re not mandating what the platform has to be. But we can support anything that our clients wish to use as their platform.
5. Are branding opportunities available inside the virtual studio?
Absolutely. We will be very flexible, just like when we host meetings. So, if that is a request, we can absolutely fulfill it.
6. How do you think the virtual studio will impact meetings in Houston?
We think it will enhance it. We believe once it safe to get together face to face again with a significant number of people—which we hope is sooner than later—certain things will change. For instance, our cleaning standards have raised the bar. Those new developments will probably never go away. But we do believe the meetings market will come back with some adjustments.
7. Moving forward, once COVID-19 is hopefully behind us, do you think virtual and hybrid meetings will be a part of the new normal for meetings?
There will be virtual offerings in almost every meeting that is held going forward. The virtual studio will live on when in-person meetings come back.