How did Rotterdam overcome the challenging circumstances that required a one year postponement of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) due to the pandemic? From March 2020, the guidelines regarding hosting events were constantly changing and challenging the live events industry, but with reliable partners and a ‘make it happen’ attitude, the venue and the host city of Rotterdam worked on scenario planning that allowed them to safely host the ESC in May the following year.
The second Table Talk at the Rotterdam Experiment in September 2021 focused on the safety and security aspects of hosting the ESC, and specifically how scenario thinking and collaboration made the execution of the contest feasible and safe. The last part of the Table Talk focused on discussing the future of events. (You can catch up on the first Table Talk here).
With the event moderated by Arjanne Hoogstad, Manager of Marketing & Communications at Rotterdam Partners, table guests included Jolanda Jansen, CEO at Rotterdam Ahoy, Dimitri Bonthuis, Programme Manager at Fieldlab Event and Kim Joosten, Deputy head of security host city for the ESC.
To overcome the challenges created by uncertainty, Jolanda Jansen, CEO at Rotterdam Ahoy shared that they adopted a step-by-step approach: ‘When we decided together with the European Broadcast Union (EBU), the host broadcaster, in May 2020 to move the event to 2021, we had the vision and the goals. We said, “Let’s first secure that we can host the event.” The next big step was to make sure that delegates are able to travel to the Netherlands and that we can have a show with spectators. Step three was to see if it was possible to have audience safely, and that’s where the collaboration with Fieldlab Events came in. We said this is our Olympics and the biggest event we ever had in the past 50 years.’
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.’