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What About Hub and Spoke? By S. David Ramirez

The suggestion came as we were planning our 2021 convention. Our team of staff and volunteers are evenly split between San Antonio and Dallas. Given the slower than expected rollout of the COVID vaccine, we had a strong indication that our show would be almost entirely local instead of drawing the statewide attention that helped us reach 20,000 attendees in 2019. Our Dallas contingent expressed concern about driving the 275 miles to our venue. With this concern in mind, we went through an entire planning process of reimaging our annual culture festival as a multi-location activation. Ultimately, we decided against it, but committing to the thought exercise gave us a new perspective into what it would take to transform our event into a Hub and Spoke. 22

What is a Hub and Spoke Event? Hub and spoke is one of several event formats that experts anticipate will gain popularity as the world recovers from the pandemic. The format consists of a central main event, “the hub’, where keynotes and other face-to-face programming take place. There can be any number of smaller “spokes” that are regional face-to-face offshoots of the main event happening simultaneously. All associated events are branded, themed, and marketed as part of the same activation. Why Hub and Spoke? We’re not sure how long COVID will remain a part of our lives and industry. Some experts have gone so far as to

IFEA’s ie: the business of international events

Summer 2021

speculate that we may have seasonal outbreaks of covid, much like we do with our cold and flu seasons. The Hub and Spoke format allows event organizers to replace the mega-conferences of yesteryear with several smaller regional events, reducing the possibility of having attendees spreading sickness across geographies while still providing an event experience. This format also speaks to consumer confidence. It may be years before tourism fully bounces back. H&S reduces the ask on attendees, who are more likely to participate in a program in their local markets than travel across the country to participate. Example Hub and Spoke One of the most widely known Hub and Spoke format events can be seen annually

Profile for International Festivals & Events Association

ie volume 32 issue 2  

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