Telepresence avatar robots enriched remote experience during the first hybrid UIA Associations Round Table Asia-Pacific in Tokyo
The Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB), as the host partner city to the Union of International Associations (UIA), successfully completed the 9th UIA Associations Round Table Asia-Pacific 2021 held in Japan for the first time. It was also the first time for UIA to hold its Round Table in a hybrid format. On October 21 and 22, more than 70 overseas and local participants from 29 countries joined via a dedicated virtual conferencing platform, OnAIR. Over 40 local association executives and industry partners gathered in person at the Congrès Square Nihonbashi.
A unique demonstration of utilizing new and exciting telepresence avatar robots was presented during the panel discussions, showcasing a solution in managing hybrid international conferences. The overseas speakers, who joined as avatar robots from Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, and Switzerland, were thrilled to experience the entirely new way of communication with onsite participants, made possible thanks to iPresence.
Clara Fernández López, External Relations Manager of UIA, commented on attending an event remotely and an experience presenting on stage being a robot: "We consider it a big success. It has been of value for the association delegates since they heard a lot about challenges, topics, and issues that are of great importance to their daily work. Additionally, it has been a great hybrid experience having the avatars on stage, which made it fun. Facilitating a panel discussion, and at the same time, trying to move the robot was a challenge. But in return, I enjoyed it a lot, especially when we were able to walk through the lobby to meet the audience."
In-person participants mentioned "the strong sense of overseas participants' presence" they experienced during the Round Table and described their total impression as "fascinating and inspiring." "Educating" was another term used by in-person participants who appreciated the opportunity to see how to organize the meeting in the new normal. Still, many of them stated that the hybrid format of the Round Table reminded them that much more benefits could be received out of actual attendance.
The most careful attention at the venue was paid to health and safety protocols. In addition to basic infection countermeasures essential to hold safe meetings, TCVB installed a "Safe Gate Solution," which combines automatic temperature measurement and hand/foot mist sterilization.
To showcase a new buffet-style party, demonstration tables were set up at the venue. In-person participants were impressed with unique decorations of tables skillfully combining flowers, kimono cloth, and vibrant Japanese traditional charms like fans and balls.
During the Round Table, three booths represented the Virtual Exhibition: TCVB, Congrès Inc., and "DMO SHIBA, Tokyo Bay." The DMO was newly established in September to provide one-stop support for holding business events in the Hamamatsucho, Takeshiba, and Shibaura areas.
To promote Tokyo as an attractive destination to visit in person in the future, promotional videos introducing Japanese cultural experiences like sushi and traditional dancing were streamed during the two days of the Round Table. The event concluded with an exceptional live cultural experience of green tea and its place in Japanese culture, which appealed to the delegates online and on-site.
Business Events Tokyo will continue to introduce initiatives to guarantee that Tokyo is an ideal and inspirational city to hold your next event. The team is ready to support organizers in planning an unforgettable event in this new era.