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Case Study

Hybrid Events: Partnerships Are Key

In November 2020, the Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ) held their annual conference at Claudelands in Hamilton, NZ. To deliver more than just an in-person event, EVANZ had to cater for those who were not able to travel or make it to Hamilton. With the assistance of technology provider Ungerboeck and AV company Vidcom, they were able to transform their Conference into a memorable hybrid experience.

We talked to Ken Veenendaal and Mike McMinn from Vidcom on the challenges their company has faced, especially throughout this year, how they have pivoted to the changing environment, and what the key elements are to creating a successful hybrid event.

Can you tell us more about Vidcom?

Ken: “Vidcom is a New Zealand-based Audio-Visual provider that helps bring events to life for the last 20 years! We provide our customers with a vast range of AV solutions for all different types of events such as conferences, exhibitions, awards evenings, and more. We currently operate out of three locations within the North Island and have a large array of partnerships in place with venues and organisations across New Zealand to help provide high-quality solutions at an affordable price.”

AV Virtual Stream

I’m sure as a company you have seen some big advancements in technology over the years. To speak more specifically about 2020, with COVID-19, how has Vidcom adapted to technology requested by your clients to deliver events?

Mike: “AV providers have had to reimagine how they can produce new experiences this year. There have been moments throughout 2020 where we were delivering virtual events with absolutely no one physically present. This has now evolved into hybrid events, where there is a mix of audience members and presenters in the room, and those who are streaming in virtually. It has been interesting to try and deliver events in a way that people have wanted them. In the first instance, it was important to find out a few ‘bigger picture’ questions: what is the client’s vision, needs and purpose of the event, and at the end of the event, what are the attendee takeaways?

From what we have experienced this year, it would seem uncommon for events to not have evolved into having a digital component. Could be as simple as removing the need for a hand-held mic that gets passed around the room, to all questions getting asked live through a virtual event platform, via their own devices.

The focus for us has been on learning what the customers’ needs are and providing a solution for their challenges. We have had to rethink our offering provided to both event organisers and event venues to be able to pivot more strongly into a new era of virtual delivery. We also worked with the client on not just being their AV supplier who gets sent a list of gear specifications, but a real partner, that can guide them with expert recommendations.”

What have been some of your biggest learnings from 2020?

Mike: “One of the biggest learnings I’ve taken away from this year, as well as for a few of our clients, is to not over complicate. Overcomplicating things doesn’t actually service the purpose of their event and can be a sure-fire way of disengaging your audience, which is a battle in itself with trying to keep online audiences engaged throughout the event. We have all the technology in the world these days and we can do anything, but if it’s not serving the solution or the purpose to the event, it’s pretty much useless.”

Vidcom partnered with Ungerboeck for the EVANZ Conference to live stream sessions via the Ungerboeck Virtual Event Experience Platform. Can you share more insights on how this partnership worked?

Ken: “To live stream the conference sessions through the virtual platform, we provided Ungerboeck with individual session URL links, which helped with ending one session and starting another one on the virtual platform. These URL’s were integrated through the backend of the virtual platform, and when a session went live, the stream was embedded in the platform for an immersive experience where . The Live Stream platform provided a high visual and audio output quality for online audience members to see and hear clearly.

Panellists who were not onsite were featured predominantly on the large screen in the room, while the online view streamed through to the virtual platform divided the viewing screen up into sections, so the online audience could clearly see everyone.

Post-event, recordings were split up per session, and Ungerboeck placed them onto the platform for people to watch on demand and share with work colleagues.”

EVANZ Hybrid Event

Above: (l) How one of the virtual sessions displayed on the Ungerboeck Virtual Platform, and (r) how the screen was displayed to the panellists on their side.

Do you have any final thoughts to finish off with?

Mike: “There is an abundance of wealth of knowledge and creativity out there with technology suppliers, so by engaging with these experts, they will be more than happy to guide you and your event into the right direction.”