The Lookout #47: Can your event be inclusive without a fully digital option?
This weekend, the COP26 Climate Change Conference begins in Glasgow. It’s taken a particular interest not only because one of the largest in-person global events to return since the pandemic, but also due to the climate focus. Delayed over a year due to the pandemic, the organizers were adamant the event would be held in person (which they might be rethinking now as there are not enough accommodations for the expected 30,000+ delegates). But one key priority of the organizers would be delivering an “inclusive summit”. It’s a noble aspiration, as a global summit, the COP is not open to just anyone. But for many of those affiliated delegates to fully participate, they didn’t have much of a choice whether to travel to Scotland or not.
When it comes to closed sessions, virtual attendance is only possible if you are physically present in Scotland. Even though the closed sessions are streamed, they will not be available to viewers abroad. So to get the most out of the event, you either have to be in the room, or in the country. Since delegates come to COP26 from every corner of the globe, many will need to travel, despite the pandemic.
While not all COP26 sessions are subject to these restrictions, the opportunity for delegates to participate virtually across the COP26 summit is uneven. Despite the organizer’s call for an inclusive event, the digital limitations do restrict delegate choices — rather than being more inclusive.
Of course– there’s much more to building an inclusive event than offering an encompassing digital option (more suggestions here). But making the opportunity to attend and participate fully digitally– improves accessibility and inclusion by providing more choice– especially– if the alternative is not showing up. And with the lessons we’ve learned about producing effective digital events since the pandemic, there’s no excuse for not developing an efficient way for COP26 delegates to fully participate, no matter where they are. The fact that this is a climate summit should be reason enough. Let’s find a way to meet that challenge before it’s too late.
Here’s the latest event industry news and updates:
- Veertly raises CHF 2m in seed financing round [Veertly] After a year and a half of bootstrapping, virtual and hybrid event platform Veertly announces its first fundraise. The flexible eventtech platform (and friend of PIRATEx) prepares for their global expansion with a 1.9 million Euro seed financing round. The platform digitizes events for 20 to over 10,000 attendees.
- Bizzabo acquires TeeVid [Conference News] Event organizing and success platform Bizzabo has acquired TeeVid, a video and events platform. Last month, the company shared their new “Event Experience Operating System”, an open platform designed for immersive hybrid and virtual events. This new acquisition will power video experiences for Bizzabo’s customers and enable them to produce personalized and flexible video productions.
- OpenExchange Announces Intent to Acquire Veracast, Further Enhancing Virtual Event Product Offering [Business Wire] OpenExchange, a global video-enabled virtual event tool that looks to acquire Veracast, a secure webcast and streaming provider for financial services, biotechnology and legal services. The acquisition is positioned to ensure OpenExchange the opportunity to manage over 50,000 virtual meetings per quarter. We’ve been seeing greater consolidation in the eventtech space over the last two quarters, and I expect the trend will continue for some months.
- ON24 Announces New Live-Stream Video Application to Get Virtual Events Up and Running Fast [BusinessWire] Eventtech platform On24 announced a new self-service virtual event solution, offering organizers the chance to livestream events faster than ever before.
The Events Industry:
- Web Summit Selected as Digital Platform Provider for CES 2022 [PR News Wire] CES is returning to Las Vegas in 2022 for a hybrid event, and the digital component will be powered by Web Summit. Web Summit’s bespoke virtual event software was chosen by the CTA in an effort to “benefit both in-person and digital attendees”. The move is a break from their 2021 provider, Microsoft, who helped produce the first-ever all-digital CES.
- Nvidia’s GTC will draw 200K researchers for online event including metaverse session [VentureBeat] The Metaverse is definitely here when it comes to events as artificial intelligence and processing company Nvidia convenes over 200,000 participants next month at an event where they’ll have the opportunity to experience the metaverse first hand. The report indicates that Nvidia has continued to choose all virtual events due to the Delta variant, allowing them to host more events during the year, and try new concepts, such as this metaverse session.
- Messen: Hannover Messe will digitale Angebote beibehalten [Bietigheimer Zeitung] April’s Hannover Messe will return in 2022 as a hybrid event. Last year, the world’s largest industrial fair was held entirely as an online event, after its cancellation in 2020. According to executives, the choice to retain digital elements and go hybrid elements will make the trade fair “even more valuable” for exhibitors and visitors.
How to do it:
- Five Ways to Level Up Your Virtual Event Moderation [Associations Now] Some smart tips here for working with moderators effectively at your virtual event. I think we’ve all been in an online event situation where the moderation really made or broke the experience. One way to prevent negatives is appropriate conception and coaching of your online moderators– its a real skill. Here are some top tips– and one I really like? Using private chat to handle disruptions. Devote staff to managing the chat, and use your private chat function to ensure things move smoothly if attendees are not acting accordingly.
- 3 Ways to Rethink Employee Engagement with Virtual Event Technology [Trade Show News] All organizers know how virtual events can offer exciting engagement opportunities. So now let’s think about how we can bring that engagement, and those opportunities, beyond the traditional event space– to more effective corporate gatherings. I’m seeing an opportunity for event organizers here to develop their business portfolio and open their offerings up further for larger companies to host internal meetings.
- Enhancing Event Experience with AR [Tech Bullion] While a lot of attention has been spent on building entirely new, 3D worlds for events, Augmented Reality should not be overlooked– especially as events return in person. There are plenty of opportunities where AR can enhance events, for example for venue navigation, or for adding gamification to your event for engagement. One of the best parts? Some of the easiest enhancements only require a smartphone, so it’s likely your participants already have the tools at their fingertips.
Don’t Miss it:
- Virtuelle Messeformate: Chancen & Grenzen [Event Partner] When the pandemic hit, Exhibition, Congress and Event Management student Céline Hage looked to the crisis as an opportunity. For her final thesis, she examined the impact and consequences of virtual trade shows for the exhibition industry. This piece synthesizes some of the main findings from her thesis, with some compelling results. One finding– virtual trade fairs do not pose a threat to the traditional operators, but rather provide an opportunity to augment their productions and maintain a more continued contact with their target audiences.
- Global events industry pledge ready for COP26 [Conferences and Meetings World] In the run up to next week’s COP26, a number of event industry actors have come together to develop a climate pledge to push towards net zero by 2050, and reduce emissions by 50% by 2030. 150 event businesses from around the world have already signed up, with further details available at the formal launch on November 10th.
That’s all for this week’s edition of The Lookout! I am sure there will be a lot more learnings to come out of COP26 for event organizers. I’m putting them all together in a blog that I’ll share at the conclusion of the event. So please stay tuned to the newsletter for that!
In the meantime, let’s stay connected if we’re not already on Linkedin or follow the PIRATEx team on Twitter. If there’s anything you would like to read about when it comes to online, or digital events, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
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Until next Friday!