How to get your virtual and hybrid event attendees on the edge of their seats
Is it possible to replicate the excitement and interactivity of live events on a device? Thanks to clever technology, it’s getting closer and closer, and what’s more, remote event attendance now offers immersive experiences unique to those unable to be there in person.
“Video has exploded,” said Joe McStravick, Managing Director, EMEA & APAC, BlueJeans by Verizon, “[It’s] the primary medium of choice for organisations when it comes to everything from broadcasting immersive company town halls to amplifying influential marketing messages and product launches.”
As venue doors reopened into a post-COVID landscape, hybrid events emerged as a new, often preferable, option. Having become accustomed to attending wholly virtual conferences, the benefits of work-from-home and attend-from-home were hard to shake off.
Some of those remote options are obvious: remote participants at events save money on travel and accommodation, and an event with the option to attend virtually is far more accessible than the traditional face-to-face version. Oftentimes, more people can participate virtually than in real life, and event organisers aren’t restrained by venue capacity. Hybrid events can have many benefits for all involved.
On the flip side, however, attending an event online can be an unfulfilling few hours. In the early days of the pandemic, business meetings moved online, and events were streamed – with varying success – to reach locked-down participants. Joining remotely, with little opportunity for real interaction, made a kitchen full of snacks hard to refuse. It’s one thing making an event available online, but another to make it as engaging as it would be in real life.
Technology has the ability to actually add to the online experience beyond just a “live feed” of events as they happen, making attendees in both ‘modes’ of a hybrid event (in-person and virtually) get real value from the time they spend in the care of the event organisers.
Providing multiple levels of engagement is one of the primary benefits of hosting a hybrid event. However, the right platform will decide whether online attendance is appealing to attendees. Traditionally, video conferencing platforms have few options for interactivity, with the “raise hand” feature the closest to making a virtual event feel ‘real’. Features like this feel like an afterthought, and to date, there haven’t been many options for hybrid events that actually add value for attendees, organisers, speakers, exhibitors, partners and sponsors.
Perhaps that’s because event organisers default to technology solutions that describe themselves as video conferencing platforms but are little more than video calling platforms.
A streamed event needs to be immersive, with high-quality broadcasting (audio and video) as an absolute minimum. Event hosts can pick their agenda and explore new, engaging features that will increase interest in their event and know that any form of broadcast leaves their technology platform in the highest possible quality.
Naturally, there’s a great deal more to hosting a hybrid event for remote participants than providing a link to a video stream. The ideal platform would reduce management overhead by providing a comprehensive way of managing all aspects of an event, from planning to post-show, from one platform.
Many online event platforms have crossed our desk, but few are engineered for attracting, engaging and retaining participants as their top priority. Conversely, some virtual attendance tech tends to err on the side of gimmick – the Metaverse, for example, which seems more concerned with superfluous detail than with tapping the potential of remote interaction.
However, BlueJeans Events is unique. It provides multiple interesting options for any organisation looking to run virtual or hybrid events. Last year, BlueJeans Studio was launched as an uplift to BlueJeans Events bringing the power of production-grade, TV-quality live-streaming to users, plus a plethora of new ways to interact.
Many event organisers have had to string together several solutions to create the attendee experience. Calendar reminders and pre-event marketing outreach can be handled by solution X, while slide decks, PDFs, survey docs and more are uploaded into solution Y, an online document-sharing solution. That creates complexity that’s down to inherently incompatible technology platforms attempting to work towards the same goals.
The BlueJeans Events portfolio places all those capabilities into one dashboard and adds highly specific features to enhance virtual and real-life attendee experiences. BlueJeans Expo – part of the BlueJeans Events portfolio – offers virtual exhibition booths, for example, and tiers of access to materials and talks for different attendee types (press, day-visitor, early-bird ticket holder, and so on) are just a couple of examples.
Dedicated hybrid event technology essentially gives organisers many more options that can make events more popular. With a hybrid or virtual event, you can accommodate more speakers, more partners, and more attendees without necessarily more costBlueJeans also expands event accessibility globally by offering attendees the ability to enable automated closed captioning translations from over 70 languages, so they can experience the event content in preferred language, or hosts can offer live interpreters during an event.
The infrastructure of a good hybrid event benefits real-life participants too, who might want to watch back anything they missed in a recorded, on-demand format. Plus, organisers get access to all the metrics of event activity to view online, download, or integrate into external systems.
At this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, BlueJeans delivered the online media centre for all accredited media, a feature designed especially to enable full coverage of the event – whether onsite at Liverpool or connecting virtually. Live streams of the official media conferences, dress rehearsals, the Semi-Finals and Grand Final were all available.
And late last year, BlueJeans delivered Brentford Football Club’s online fan forum. It meant that over 500 supporters could attend remotely – double the physical number that could fit Brentford’s venue capacity.
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