After a one-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) took place in Rotterdam in May 2021. Hosting an event of such big scale during a pandemic requires high levels of collaboration, creativity, resilience and innovation. On 28 September, Rotterdam Partners shared how they did it with their global audience during the third Rotterdam Experiment hybrid event, as well as the lessons learnt from being the host city of the 65th edition of the ESC.
The ESC is one of the best examples of what a global event in the post-pandemic world can look like. Rotterdam worked collaboratively to make it happen and welcomed all the contestants and spectators safely into the city. The local community was involved and were proud to be the host city. The event was broadcast globally in a way that engaged, excited and gave goosebumps to the virtual audience.
So, how did they do it? This you will find out in my coverage of the third edition of the Rotterdam Experiment.
VOK DAMS is a great example of an event agency that has been successfully implementing virtual and hybrid event strategies for the past 18 months. With over 40 years of experience in the field, virtual event spaces aren’t new to them, though the pandemic has accelerated their adoption by clients, bringing to life new and innovative event concepts.
One of the major advantages of virtual and hybrid events is the availability of accurate data that can help with event feedback and evaluation. I interviewed Hannes Putzig, Director of Strategic Solutions at VOK DAMS about measuring the success of hybrid events. Hannes leads the department that is responsible for all things relating to event evaluation—he and his team define the goals and objectives for the event, while the conceptual work and execution are done by a separate department. After each event, Hannes’s department carries out an event evaluation to determine whether it has been successful or not.
The second part of Events Reimagined by Hubilo focused on presenting key virtual and hybrid event trends that we’ll see more of going forward and shared advice on how best to adapt.
Event co-moderator Teresa Al Dente shared the story of her company, Drag Taste. Drag Taste’s ‘Sangria and Secrets’ is considered the world’s number one online experience. Teresa Al Dente, President & CEO at the Drag Taste virtual experience, spoke with Rachel Moore, Director of Global Campaigns at Hubilo and told the story of their pivot from live to virtual events.
Teresa has been doing cooking classes for 15 years in Lisbon and offered them daily on Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide. But there came a point when she wanted to add something extra to this concept that involved more fun. As a result, she created the ‘Drag Queen Cooking Party.’
In March 2020, when they had to shut down due to COVID-19, five days later, they developed the virtual experience. Teresa shared, ‘We were many people working together, a big team, and we decided that we’re not going to lose our job—we’ll reinvent ourselves.’ Virtual event tech helped to scale the business, ‘The virtual world started for us in March 2020, in a big way.’
On 14th July, Hubilo hosted their first virtual event and presented the next generation of virtual and hybrid events. In the past 18 months, we’ve seen a rapid evolution of virtual events regarding event technology platforms and online experiences. Hubilo’s Events Reimagined has lifted the bar and demonstrated the advancements made in recent months and what the future holds.
The event had a winning formula to create a captivating virtual event experience, also referred to as the Netflix effect. It had world-class online entertainment by Drag Taste, prominent industry and non-industry speakers, with the headline speaker Gary Vaynerchuk. The attendees could test the many features the virtual and hybrid event platform Hubilo provides, including chats, polls, leaderboards, networking rooms and breakout rooms. A wide choice was available to keep attendees captivated to learn, engage and network.
Vaibhav Jain, CEO & Founder at Hubilo shared, ‘What Hubilo has invested over the last one and a half years in building is industry’s largest suite of engagement and gamification features that allow event organisers to get creative and push the boundaries of what the virtual and hybrid events can do. To hook and WOW audiences.’
We know how to build trust face to face at live events, but now, when everything is moving into the virtual world, we need to learn how to build trust online with our clients, supplier sponsors and other stakeholders.
On 12 March 2021, I hosted a virtual session at ITB Berlin together with Elina Jutelyte, Founder of the Freelance Business Community and Heidi Legein, Managing Director at The MICE Guru. The educational MICE stream was hosted by VDVO and covered key topics on the current agenda.
In the past 14 months, we’ve been using a variety of online communication channels for education and networking, and this session looked at the differences of building trust online vs offline, how to build trust effectively and examples from virtual events organised by the panellists. Below are the key takeaways.