Stop faffing about with Zoom or sweating over pre-recording your online content yourself – there’s no need for you to become an overnight expert in all things virtual or hybrid events. Sure, get your head around the basics, but when it comes to the technical side, the production and the implementation, leave it to the experts.
You’ve no doubt noticed a growing increase in some of Australia’s top venues adding a “Production Room” to their list of facilities. But what does this actually mean? What type of events are they suitable for? And, how can an events team at a physical location take your virtual or hybrid event from “meh” to “ah-mazing!”?
To find out how a venue can help you make it all happen, we called in the virtual and hybrid event experts from Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre – MCEC, who have recently upgraded their facilities to cope with the growing demand and ever-changing requirements of producing events in 2020 and beyond….
1. What type of events are best suited to a virtual event format?
While it’s difficult to replace the physical experience of an in-person event, most virtual events can still give a similar experience by sharing knowledge and engaging with the audience online. Below are some examples of event formats that can be hosted virtually:
- Conferences / Summits
- Product Launches
- Employee Engagement (Town Halls, Quarterly all team meetings…)
- Online concerts
- Awards ceremonies
- Training events and workshops
- Fireside chats
- AMA’s (Ask Me Anything with an expert or guest speaker) …
2. If a virtual event is entirely online, what can a physical venue offer event planners who are hosting a virtual event?
Popular conferencing platforms (e.g. Zoom) have shown that they’re not always the most appropriate option, particularly when it comes to delivering high production-value experiences. We’ve all sat through glitching, fuzzy meetings with screen sharing mishaps in the last few months – it’s not a great.
To create a virtual event of the highest standard, MCEC are now offering virtual event packages that bring together:
- dedicated live studios,
- state-of the-art production equipment,
- award winning technical expertise,
- a high-speed content delivery network
- and a brandable virtual event platform if organisers need it.
Using studios and a professional AV team, like MCEC provides, will ensure that the right people are onscreen at all times. We make sure there are no issues with unintentional muting or automatic audio mixing that can be a problem on video conferencing platforms, especially if the event organiser is unfamiliar with the self-service technology they’re using. In addition, our content delivery network means that the quality of image being shared is broadcast quality. When people see the studios in action one of the first things they comment on is the difference in the quality of the broadcast.
The best part? There’s no need for organisers to know how to operate the tools, we do it for them to ensure an online experience their audience will love.
3. What type of events are best suited to a hybrid event format?
With physical distancing, mass gathering and travel restrictions, we know that hybrid events will play an important part in the future and we foresee a majority of our future events involving a virtual component.
It’s not so much the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Hybrid events involve both in-person and virtual attendees and it’s important to cater to both and try to integrate the experiences as much as possible. Certain experiences will be the same, such as speaker presentations.
Others, however, will necessarily be different, such as break activities. Adjusting formats for virtual audiences will be key. Hybrid events have been a staple of our offering for many years but with our new live studio and technology upgrades we can offer better integration with in-person events.
We’re really only limited by our imagination and are already working with our customers to re-imagine many of their repeat events.
4. What are the benefits of using a venue like MCEC for hosting hybrid style events?
There are two major benefits of using MCEC for hosting hybrid events.
Unrivalled scale: given the impact of physical distancing restrictions on venue capacities we’re lucky to have a building that can host more attendees than most. In addition, while AV production companies will struggle with space and demand for studios as hybrid events become the ‘new’ normal, MCEC have the capacity to host live-streaming across multiple spaces.
All under one roof: hosting hybrid events can be complex and our “one stop shop” for virtual events will save organisers precious time, allowing them to focus more on crafting memorable experiences. Our one team approach gives organisers access to event operations experts and technology specialists that are used to working hand in hand on the floor, ensuring a seamless delivery between in person and online experiences.
5. Before COVID-19, were many clients planning hybrid events? What did these look like then and how have they changed in 2020?
Hybrid events are not new. Before COVID-19, around 5% of our customers at MCEC had an aspect of online streaming along with their in-person event.
What has changed since COVID-19 is the approach to virtual events. One of the positive results of a virtual event is the ability to reach a wider audience online, but with working from home and attending virtual meetings all day, organisers have become more aware of screen fatigue and learnt that the user experience needs to change.
A great example is the length of a speaker’s presentation. Some recent studies show that our attention span significantly reduces after 30 minutes. So, they realised they can no longer run a physical event and decide what they are streaming virtually. The online audience is now incredibly important and when it comes to planning, they must pay attention to the virtual event experience as much as they normally do for a physical event. This new opportunity is really exciting and we can’t wait to create an event of the highest standard and help organisers design something engaging, memorable and visually stimulating for viewers.
6. What are your predictions for events in 2021 and beyond?
With all the changes we’ve dealt with in the past six months, we’ve learnt not to make predictions!
Joking aside, we believe that physical events in 2021 will be attended by mostly local or national attendees. It will take our industry, particularly the international aspect, some time to recover.
But we are nothing if not adaptable. We foresee a growing demand for virtual events. Therefore, as a venue offering virtual solutions, we will keep focusing on evolving our virtual offering. We’ve recently set up a Product Evolution Committee to continuously improve and develop new features for our virtual platform based on customer’s feedback and market needs.
It will definitely be an exciting year of learnings and new ways of working which we look forward to. We’re driven by the opportunity to shift and grow, and support the events industry to come back like never before.
Keen to take your virtual or hybrid event to the next level and shine online? Get in touch with the professional team at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to get started.