While it waits for the return of large events and conventions in its halls, TCF Center has found a new way to make them a reality.

It’s teamed up with Rochester Hills-based Premier Event Technology LLC to coordinate virtual events that pair its expertise with TCF’s in-house television studio and bandwidth capabilities 10 gigabytes of bandwidth.

It began marketing the virtual and hybrid events last month.

For TCF, those events are likely to be a loss leader, General Manager Claude Molinari said.

It will get some revenue from leasing space to any organizations opting to host a virtual event and 15 percent of the online events revenue under a revenue-sharing agreement with Premier, he said.

But the virtual offerings are really about “maintaining the relationship with our customers, staying relevant and frankly, helping customers to stay in business,” he said.

“If they go out of business before this pandemic ends, it’s another potential client … TCF (and) the entire industry won’t have as a future client.”

The broadcast stage/studio installed at TCF in 2013 provides the perfect backdrop for virtual and hybrid events, Molinari said. And its 10 gigabytes of broadband capability can support hundreds of thousands of users on the web.

Premier has developed a custom hybrid platform that resembles the TCF Center floor plan, he said, to help attendees of the online events find their way in a way that simulates a live experience.

As a user enters a virtual show, they come to registration in the TCF Center atrium and then go into a virtual ballroom or exhibit hall that mirrors TCF’s own layout. “There are plenty of options there to give the live experience but remotely,” Molinari said.

TCF is speaking with several groups about the potential of doing a virtual event, he said, including two that had to cancel events planned at the venue.

TCF will get 15 percent of the revenue from virtual and hybrid events provided by Premier, as its preferred but not exclusive partners for the events at the Detroit convention center.

Customers will drive whether the virtual and hybrid events are permanent offerings or end with the pandemic, Molinari said.

“If people are going to be less likely to travel in the future or participants in these hybrid meetings like or enjoy it, I think it will continue.”

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