The Lookout #6: High hopes, Christmas sweaters and more industries going online
Happy Friday and welcome back to the latest installment of The Lookout. It’s the last regular edition before the end of the year, and I’ve packed it with plenty of great reads and top takeaways for 2020. We are taking a bit of a holiday break, in that time we have lots to share on our learnings and our wishes for the next year of events to come. I’ve also recorded a few videos, and a Deep Dive episode for our take on the events of 2021, so do keep an eye out for that. We’ll also take a look at how to celebrate holidays virtually!
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Online event takeaway of the week: Manage expectations and use the right tool for the job
I don’t have a lot of time these days to take in too many outside online events, but I made a special point this week for an event that I had been looking forward to for some time. It was produced by an organization that I appreciate very much, and the marketing and communication for the event assured it would be a really good time. It was also clear from the amount of press on the event, that there was quite a bit of budget behind it, and the content and speakers were top notch. In addition, it was put together by a company that had done some incredible in-person events in the past. So I was really interested in seeing it.
Imagine my surprise (and that of many other attendees) when I clicked the joining link to be transported into a Zoom webinar. No engagement features, no cohesive branding, no visual appeal. There was no agenda on the interface, and no way to interact with other viewers. There was no way to know who was talking at each time. The excitement that had built up was immediately deflated. It felt like a classroom, not an unique event experience. As a viewer, I felt alone, not like I was sharing something special with others.
It felt like I had been transported to the last-minute emergency setups people used to have back in April. But it doesn’t take an event professional to know that this was an entirely missed opportunity.
Poorly produced online events are memorable for viewers for all the wrong reasons. At a minimum, if you’re producing a showcase for viewers, utilize a platform that allows you to have audience engagement (live streaming on YouTube as one example). Or consider, if your event needs to be produced live at all. If there is no interaction from the audience, could your content be packaged differently, as separate videos, or as a podcast? Make sure you’re not replicating the in-person experience at the most basic level.
Recent happenings in the event world:
This week, I wanted to dig into three different industry takes on online events. It wasn’t just the events industry that had to move to digital, it was everyone. Business doesn’t stop because trade shows can’t be held. Industries had to get creative when it came to reaching their prospective customers. From these perspectives, it’s clear that the pivot to digital has really paid off.
How to engage consumers with your virtual event – consumer trends: This piece from Just-Drinks, one of the leading voices of the global beverage industry recaps some of the industry’s pivots this year from physical tasting events, to virtual events. One event organizer found that the move to digital created some incredible experiences. The lack of physical space and time restrictions meant organizers were able to push the limits with their event, more so than ever before– moving from 30 talks to 400! The feedback from the online Cognac, Champagne and Whisky shows was overwhelmingly positive, and sent tasting packs to attendees before the event. The company sent out 38,000 individual drinks samples(!) to attendees, and gave the firm real insight on what their audience really wanted– an even closer connection and insight into the world of their favorite drinks.
Rational launches new iVario online events: Here’s a great example of how trade show exhibitors are going directly to their audiences in the absence of big fairs. Rational AG created their own regular online events to go direct to their customers this year, and the result has been a big success. Online viewers have the chance to ask questions and connect directly with the presenter. We built something similar for an event we did this year with Chillventa. Expect lots more examples of this in 2021.
How trucking has adapted to virtual events during the pandemic: Trucking is another industry who explores new innovations and trends through trade shows and fairs. However, the move to digital events has been really successful in presenting a great experience for exhibitors and attendees. From this take, the content has the opportunity to shine, and in the online environment, attendees can really focus on the presentation material.
Elsewhere in the PIRATEx Universe:
We’re getting really close to Christmas! At PIRATE a real highlight this week was sharing and celebrating with our entire team, remotely, due to new lockdown restrictions in Germany. Produced by Linda, our Head of People, from start to finish, the entire event showed that virtual doesn’t have to be a barrier to team building and fun.
Virtual celebrations are one thing that have gone mainstream this year during the pandemic. I think this concept has a lot of potential that’s yet to be unlocked fully. You may remember OMClub, one of PIRATEx’s signature events (it was actually at OMClub where PIRATEx came out of stealth mode as a fully fledged event agency). Unfortunately it had to be cancelled this year due to COVID, but it’s a concept that is close to our hearts as an agency. But recreating some of this spirit in a virtual way is definitely on the agenda for us at PIRATEx. We look forward to developing further online celebration concepts in the next year, to really push the boundaries here.
Speaking about celebrations…
My top event reads this week:
- 5 Common Mistakes Virtual Event Organisers Should Avoid in 2021: ExpoPlatform
- How to engage consumers with your virtual event – consumer trends: Just Drinks
- Report: Event professionals weigh in on Covid trends, defeating Zoom fatigue: Baltimore Business Journal
- COVID Smart Testing Introduced at Liverpool Business Event: Association of British Professional Conference Organisers
- Vok Dams und Leeloo Medical: Mobile und schnelle PCR-Testergebnisse für Hybrid-Events: Events Magazin
- New data reveals visitor and exhibitor sentiment towards virtual events: Exhibition News
- Auch bei virtuellen Events brauchst Du einen Plan B: Event Tech Partner
- The Virtual Event Tech Guide: Event Manager
- Experiment #1 – Mixed Reality: Rotterdam Partners
- Using an Agile Approach When Things Keep Changing: Forum One
- Rules of Engagement: 8 Steps to Creating Captivating and Interactive Virtual Events: CWT
- New Report Finds Pivot to Virtual Events Helps Nonprofits Sustain 2020 Fundraising Goals: Yahoo Finance
- From events to e-vents: Why there’s no turning back from the virtual events environment:IT Business
- Knowing what you’re going to draw: Conferences that Work
- Was Eventmanager wirklich wollen – eine Wunschliste für Tech-Anbieter: MICEstens Digital
That’s it for this edition of the Lookout! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our Guidebook and stay subscribed to catch all of the updates. If there’s anything you would like to read about when it comes to remote, or digital events, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter to always be updated on the news from the online event world!
Thanks for reading!