The Brussels-based organiser of Fintech Week opted for a hybrid hub format for the five day London festival and the UK capital’s convention bureau was on-hand to make it a reality.
- Key stats
- 12-16 July 2021
- 450+ in-person attendees
- 4 locations
- 1,000+ virtual attendees
- Virtual platform: Brella
- 32 hours of live stream
- 180+ speakers
- 5,500+ chat messages in Brella
- 3,000+ meeting requests
Fintech Week London 2021 shone a light on the most interesting topics in financial technology, with a two-day conference at its core. Held before all UK restrictions were lifted, requirements for 50% capacity and travel restrictions meant that creating a hybrid experience was key.
The event, set across four top London locations, brought together leading fintech companies, financial institutions, decision-makers and investors to discuss trends including digital identity, open banking, and the next big things in fintech.
In-person delegates would enjoy the benefits of meeting more than 450 other physical attendees,
while those online needed to feel like they were part of the conference in London, keeping engaged throughout.
The London Convention Bureau advised the organiser on the best venues to host the event in the UK capital’s unique neighbourhoods. The locations were chosen based on where London’s fintechs are headquartered, bringing the event to them.
The first neighbourhood was the City of London, the capital’s original financial hub, neighbouring one of London’s most active tech clusters in Shoreditch.
Speakers travelled to Barclays Rise, an accelerator space for some of London’s hottest fintech startups. The flagship in-person part of the event followed at 133 Houndsditch, an etc.venues location in the heart of the City of London, near Liverpool Street station.
On the fourth day, the delegation moved to Level39, a hotspot for young and fast-growing startups in the buzz of Canary Wharf, London’s newest financial district.
Finally, the last day bookended the week with a closing day of virtual events.
Raf de Kimpe, CEO of Fintech Week London, says: “This created a combination of everybody who felt comfortable enough to go outside getting a chance to go out and actually meet, but also everybody who wanted to see the content or even network online could do that from the security and privacy of their home.
“Even people who at the last minute couldn’t join could easily switch to online and get all the content, all the networking and all the value from this conference. I think in the future, hybrid will be the way to go.”
Blurring virtual and in-person
Hybrid events don’t come without their challenges. They are a new type of event to master, which can be a learning curve for even the most experienced industry veterans, but everyone agrees that they are crucial in 2021.
“In these days, you have to do something hybrid,” says de Kimpe. “From the beginning, we said we would do as much physical as we could. Of course, given the fact that the restrictions were extended a bit, we had to rethink. We had our contingency plans in place with this hybrid version where we have people on the different locations across London.
“London has a great ecosystem and it is the biggest fintech city in the world, so it speaks for itself that there are a lot of great companies here,” he continues. “Normally we would expect a bigger global audience in-person, but now we see that the global audience is very much online. For example, in Dubai they did a session where people locally got together at the IFC and joined the content of the conference. Most of the people who attended in-person were people from the UK.”
This expanded audience is only connected by technology, which means digital infrastructure is more vital than ever before.
London has been using the quieter times during the pandemic to develop and grow the amount of integrated hybrid technology it offers in its world-class events venues.
The city is now home to cutting-edge streaming capabilities, virtual technology, smart stages and dedicated broadcasting studios.
Game-changing technologies, such as etc.venues’ Green Screen Studio solution, which is an interactive stage developed by its partner Encore, to ExCel London’s versatile and visually engaging studio, delivering broadcast-quality content from a digital platform for highly dynamic hybrid events, allows London to stand out.
“We are now focused on offering hybrid meeting technology at our venues,” says Rita Pereira, head of account management for etc.venues, who hosted Fintech Week London at 133 Houndsditch. “We have a lot of in-build tech and super-fast connectivity. We use tools that make the attendees at home feel more like they are part of the day. For those who come on-site, we are absolutely committed to making their day memorable and offering them a great experience. Hybrid solutions really give extra confidence to our clients to book their events and reach a wider audience.”
Vademecom, the Belgium-based organiser of Fintech Week London agrees that high-quality hybrid technology is essential in the short to medium term.
Marie Elise Adriansens from Vademecom says: “I think physical events will come back, but there will always be hybrid. We are reaching an audience that we would never reach with only physical events. The technique has become so easy with all the possible platforms that it’s now a must for every conference.”
The London difference
As well as London’s strong fintech credentials, range of venues and technological capabilities, stakeholders were also unanimous about the enhanced support that the London Convention Bureau provided. Its service spans above and beyond supplying venues and accommodation as its head of Europe, Barbara Jamison-Woods explains: “The London Convention Bureau is fully integrated with business growth, foreign direct investment and trade teams, to look at a business event as a catalyst for growth, job creation and a lasting legacy in that particular sector.
“We give clients a free and unbiased service and support from a practical point of view, but more than that, we work with our FDI colleagues to make sure each event has a tangible impact on the host’s bottom line. We also facilitate round-tables, give PR support, help with delegate up-lift, and connections to our business networks.
“The flexibility of the city itself is another selling point; hotels are in walking distance and easy reach of venues, hospitality, restaurants and transport hubs. The benefit of using venues across London’s distinctive neighbourhoods for Fintech Week London capitalised on the fact that everyone was excited to be out and about once again.”
London’s benefit was also clear to Vademecom’s Adriansens. She says: “We were completely sold out. You could feel it in the air; people were really happy to see each other again. London is the hub and it stays as the hub. Everyone who works in the fintech world had to be here. It was all easy; the people [at the CVB] were very professional and very used to hosting events. London & Partners helped us to find the right venues and even briefed the venues before I briefed them, so that was also a help.”
Fintech Week London was a huge success and a signpost that hybrid events have returned to London after a long winter lockdown.
More than 1,000 virtual attendees signed-on to watch sessions alongside 450+ in-person delegates.
They saw 32 hours of live streamed content from more than 180 speakers. Delegates sent more than 5,500 chat messages in Brella and received a collective 3,000 meeting requests.
Across four prestigious London locations, this ambitious return to in-person events is a sign to the industry that despite the many obstacles, hybrid events are no longer in the future. They are here, they are happening, and they can be highly successful.