How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
Initially, when I had to cancel a planned event for October, I wasn’t going to move online. I was already seeing events moving online and most of them didn’t look interesting or demonstrated that much engagement. I wasn’t expecting to recreate a live event, but at least there should be some form of engagement.
But then I found a fun platform where attendees could create an avatar and move around in virtual spaces. What attracted me most was you could click on anyone’s avatar and invite them to a private video/audio chat, which turned out to be the most popular feature. So that event went well. But there wasn’t quite the engagement with presenters that attendees usually get in the in person events.
So, for the next event, which I also had to move online, I used a different platform. I created more of a ‘backstage pass’, or ‘reverse classroom’ conference. Attendees watched the pre-recorded talks a week in advance. Then the weekend event consisted of 45 min scheduled time slots where attendees could join in and ask any questions about the pre-viewed talk. We used a format where each attendee could be brought up on “stage” to ask their question. This was extremely popular and well received.
For both events, I utilized breakout sessions with things like conference swag, Alexander technique movement instructor classes, a live magician, and Zentangle in between the sessions. The one neat thing about moving 100% virtual is the number of companies with clever ideas for entertainment and gifts who have also learned to work the online sphere as well.
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where we celebrate the positivity and optimism shown by planners across the industry when navigating the turbulent waters that COVID-19 has brought the meetings and events industry. Keep an eye out as we release more stories like this over the next few months.