An OD&V Hybrid Event - Full of Experiences and Exceeding Expectations
The year 2020 unceremoniously pushed the events industry towards the digital, virtual engagement at a level and rate none of us could have anticipated! Face-to-face, or in-person (real, physical form) gatherings, get-togethers, events, conferences and meetings have been around since the dawn of time, but an 18-month stint in a state of global pandemic has made online the new norm.
So, what would a conference look like if we were able to mix these two audiences? How would we make sure that all attendees had the same experience and ‘left’ the event feeling like they had been an actively involved delegate?
These were the two main questions we were trying to answer and which led to us designing, planning and delivering a hybrid event of our own (an experimental event with a difference)!
On July 22nd 2021, we invited 30 people to join us at Sixways Stadium, a versatile and contemporary venue and home to Premierships Rugby’s Worcester Warriors, where we took over the Pitch View Suite, overlooking… you guessed, the rugby pitch! Our partners, Stone's Throw Media, Mercian Events and VenuIQ, provided essential expert key technical elements, whilst Laura Brodrick of Think Big Picture recorded everything digitally in one of her fantastic virtual scribing illustrations.
With the support of partner DBA Speakers, we were beyond delighted to welcome on the day the amazing Helen Sharman CMG OBE, the first British person in Space and the first British astronaut, who is also celebrating a special anniversary this year – 30 years since her exciting space mission! During a live interview with our host, Mary Rhodes, Helen painted a very entrancing picture of her experience, from take-off to the mesmerising views of Earth from space! She had a truly fascinating and calming presence with a very valid perspective on ‘firsts’, breaking new ground and team work – no more than a year ago, full virtual or hybrid events seemed as otherworldly to us as space travel!
Our in-person guests, were joined by 80 virtual attendees (joining us from as far as Australia and the USA), who participated through our dedicated and innovative virtual platform supplied by VenuIQ. Networking between the two guest groups was facilitated through a sister app that in-person guests were given access to. Everyone was able to set up personalised profiles and network with any attendee, engage in live breakouts and arrange meetings, enabling them to really experience what it feels like to be part of a hybrid event.
Another question we tried to answer: how to ensure that virtual guests enjoyed if not the same at the very least a similar catering & giveaway experience to our in-person guests? Solutions are now plentiful and we opted for mini brew boxes delivered by post to the first 50 virtual RSVPs which included an enjoyable ‘brew kit’, an OD&V personalised brownie and a carefully chosen selection of useful giveaways from us and our partners. Of course, the branded brownies were not missing from the venue either!
In the spirit of ‘practice what you preach’, the OD&V team fully embraced the hybrid mix, with Rose, Sarah, Gordon and Kate overseeing and participating from the venue and Madalina attending virtually from Romania. They shared with Mary and guests the plans for OD&V’s 21st birthday year in 2021 and the rapid change of direction the business, and the entire events industry, has taken in the last 18 months. Madalina overseeing a virtual speaker green room from across the continent is one perfect example!
Our fabulous host and friend, Mary Rhodes, journalist and tv presenter, expertly linked and introduced each element seamlessly with support from the production team. The whole occasion was graphically encapsulated digitally for posterity by Laura of Think Big Picture.
Finally, OD&V were delighted to launch their support of chosen charity, Worcester Warriors Community Foundation. The charity is close to our hearts and supports our company values with their ethos that aims to help build a legacy for sport, education, health and social cohesion across the communities within their reach. In more recent years, their work has spread to other areas of need including the award-winning Tackling Dementia Sports Café. To find out more about their work or offer your support, please visit: https://warriors.co.uk/community/community-foundation/
We have learnt a lot from this experience; hybrid events are full of possibilities, and we look forward to putting it all into practice for our clients in the future!
If you are looking to host a conference or awards event and would like to find out more about creating a hybrid experience, then please do get in touch now: opening-doors.org.uk
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