Bonus Episode! | The Insider’s Guide to the Hybrid Event Experience: Behind-the-Scenes Look at Agents of Hybrid

EPISODE 6 | PODCAST

You can also find this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Show Notes:

We are bringing you a bonus episode featuring our most recent event with our partners at Bizzabo, The Insider’s Guide to the Hybrid Event experience. During this event, we discussed all the key takeaways and behind-the-scenes lessons learned from Agents of Hybrid,  by both Bizzabo and Cramer.

Agents of Hybrid was a two-day, live and virtual event that walked audiences through several hybrid best practices while offering insight into how the events industry is likely to evolve in the coming months and years.

If you missed Agents of Hybrid —or want to watch again—the on-demand broadcast is now live. 👉  https://lnkd.in/djiwkWd 🖥️

Transcript:

Elise Orlowski (00:08):

I’m Elise Orlowski, a senior video director here at Kramer.

Tripp Underwood (00:10):

And I’m Tripp Underwood, a creative director at Kramer.

Elise Orlowski (00:13):

And at Kramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries.

Tripp Underwood (00:18):

We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves, so now we’re sharing them with the world.

Elise Orlowski (00:23):

Right here from Kramer studios.

Tripp Underwood (00:25):

This is Pivot Point.

Elise Orlowski (00:26):

Cut.

Tripp Underwood (00:37):

Elise, good to see you again.

Elise Orlowski (00:38):

Good to see you, too.

Tripp Underwood (00:39):

In the studio.

Elise Orlowski (00:40):

Yep.

Tripp Underwood (00:41):

Today on Pivot Points, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different.

Elise Orlowski (00:44):

Switching it up.

Tripp Underwood (00:45):

Switching it up a little bit.

Elise Orlowski (00:45):

Pivoting.

Tripp Underwood (00:47):

Pivoting. Keeping the audience on their toes. Because we here at Kramer recently held a hybrid experience events-

Elise Orlowski (00:56):

Which is exciting.

Tripp Underwood (00:57):

Very exciting.

Elise Orlowski (00:59):

A lot of those this year.

Tripp Underwood (01:00):

A lot of talk of it, but not a lot of execution. So, what we did is actually put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and hosted an event that was a live in-person show that was also simultaneously live broadcasted using Bizzabo, which is a virtual platform technology. So, it was a way to create a singular event that was then enjoyed in-person, at home, on-demand, all incorporating different technology strategies to try to make it all.

Elise Orlowski (01:33):

Yep. And that event was called Agents of Hybrid, and it was really exciting because we actually, our venue was Kramer Studios. So, everyone that was onsite was here, there was a lot of people, a lot of buzz, a lot of energy. It was super exciting. So, today, we actually partnered with the Bizzabo team, we had them in the studio and had a conversation surrounding that event, which we’re actually going to dive into further. But we hope for a lot of the listeners who attended the event, but if you didn’t be sure to head over to the on-demand experience which will be in the description below to watch.

Tripp Underwood (02:07):

See what we did and then come and join us again at this part to see what we’re talking about because the conversation you’re about to watch between Elise, myself, some people here at Kramer, and the Bizzabo folks is really a deep dive on everything that we did, the good, the bad-

Elise Orlowski (02:21):

For that-

Tripp Underwood (02:21):

Yeah.

Elise Orlowski (02:22):

Like a recap for that event of what we-

Tripp Underwood (02:25):

But there’s a lot of practical information that you can use in terms of what worked, what didn’t, what we can do better, and I think it’s a really candid look at an event that I’m really proud of.

Elise Orlowski (02:34):

The good, the bad, and the ugly, and ultimately how to make events much cooler in the future.

Tripp Underwood (02:41):

[inaudible 00:02:41].

Elise Orlowski (02:41):

So, with that, why don’t you enjoy our discussion with the Bizzabo team?

Welcome to Agents of Hybrid part two. We’re coming to you live from Kramer Studios, where just a few weeks ago we teamed up with our partners at Bizzabo to host a fully hybrid experience, bringing together an in-person audience with thousands of virtual attendees watching at home, giving everyone a real-time example of what the future of events may look like.

Tripp Underwood (03:17):

And today, we’re going to talk to the people who made that experience happen. We’ll find out what worked, what could have been done better, and get their perspective on what makes a successful hybrid event. We’re also going to hear from Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney. Duncan’s going to be hosting a hands-on innovation class to help you better understand the impact creative thinking can have for events organizations. And because hybrid events are all about audience interaction, Duncan does have a few questions he’d love to ask you, our at-home audience, using our live polling feature. So, if you can please scan the QR code now, we can get that started. Okay. So, the first question is, what is your biggest barrier to being innovative at work?

Elise Orlowski (03:56):

Ooh, that’s a good question. That’s a really good question. Next, what do people say when they kill one of your ideas? Ooh, that’s a tough one.

Tripp Underwood (04:06):

A morbid term.

Elise Orlowski (04:07):

Yes.

Tripp Underwood (04:08):

Okay. So, question three, where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas?

Elise Orlowski (04:15):

Ooh, definitely showering for me.

Tripp Underwood (04:17):

I’m more of a jogging person. And I’m not paying attention and almost getting hit by cars. And finally, question four, how do you remember that there are 30 days in September.

Elise Orlowski (04:27):

Ooh, what is the knuckles thing? I don’t know what that is?

Tripp Underwood (04:31):

I’m completely unfamiliar with the knuckle thing? Okay. So, hopefully, all your answers are in and the results of those questions will come up later during Duncan’s talk, but now we want to get started and really dive deep into this panel, starting with some introductions. My name’s Tripp. I’m a creative director here at Kramer, and I am joined by my lovely co-host and fellow creative director, Elise.

Elise Orlowski (04:50):

Hello. And joining us on stage is Mark Wilson, executive creative director at Kramer, and Devon Clary, VP of global events at Bizzabo. And beaming in live all the way from the mysterious land of New York is Lauren Care, the director of special events at Bizzabo. Thanks for making the virtual commute, Lauren.

Lauren Care (05:10):

Oh, no, thanks for having me.

Tripp Underwood (05:12):

Okay. Let’s dive right in. That’s what people want to talk to about, things we learned from Agents of Hybrid. I could start. Personally, my biggest learning from Agents was this recognition that hybrid events are about creating two connected but still unique experiences. It’s not about trying to be all things to both audiences at once, which is something we’re calling hybrid is a spectrum. And the Bizzabo team has done a ton of research on this, so I’m going to throw it to Devon first. Devon, when you see the term a hybrid is a spectrum, what does that mean exactly?

Devon Clary (05:44):

Well, first, thanks for having me today. It’s amazing to be back in this incredible environment, let’s start with a basic definition of hybrid. For us, it really is a mix of a live in-person event and a virtual event. This is where we’re combining the physical and virtual event elements and features and really integrating them together. But hybrid is so beneficial in a lot of different ways. It offers attendees the flexibility of participating in their preferred format. And for all of you event profs today, I’m sure you can confirm this, it helps us expand both our reach and our inclusiveness around the event strategy.

But to answer your question, the above definition is a really singular viewpoint. Hybrid means any mix of ideas, models, and designs, and not just the, I would say, preconceived notion or buzzword that it has to be a 50% virtual event with a 50% in-physical audience. Hybrid means anything to everyone no matter what organizers are trying to create. It’s what they want it to mean for themselves. So, at Bizzabo, we believe that there is a spectrum. So, today what I wanted to do was really synthesize this down into some actionable learnings and really try to organize this into four major models of hybrid to really prove this hypothesis that it’s not one size fits all.

So, the first as a deep dive is what we’re calling two simultaneous events. This is where you actually have both an in-person event integrated with a virtual event. And what we’re seeing is concurrent networking and content streaming happening at the same time. Now, a pro of this is you actually are able to bring your audiences together, and from a sponsorship perspective as one use case, you’re able to expand that reach and maximize the visibility and the viewership. One of the cons, or again, maybe a different way to phrase that is just, one thing you have to be mindful of is how expensive that can run you. You really are co-creating and producing two simultaneous events into one, so you really want to be mindful of that and the amount of time… And Lauren’s going to talk a little bit about this from her perspective, but again, as event organizers, we always need more time or could always use more time in the strategy, ideation, and planning sessions. So, again, making sure you have the appropriate amount and SLA to effectively deliver.

The second and third options both also have a virtual event and a physical event integrated, but the second option we’re calling is a delayed event. And that is where you really have a live programming for the in-person audience, and then your secondary component is a delayed, maybe next day, a week later, or whatever your timeframe would look like, and it’s more of an on-demand package for your virtual audience. So, you might have a combination of simulive, you might have other elements that you bring forward, but it is a later production or a later consumption for your online audience. And with that, a pro is that you really get to focus on one event at a time, and I know, trust me, being an event organizer, that is a dream come true in this new era. The second piece to this on the con perspective is, are you going to be able to really engage your virtual audience? We’ve really learned as a best practice and a lesson already, if you are not going to guide and provide live real content and engagement, you run the risk of having a significant drop-off from a registration to a conversion of attendance. So, you have to be really, really careful about that.

The third model is a live studio audience. This is where you actually bring your in-person groups together and you’re trying to replicate, very similar to a high production broadcast. This could be a live TV show to, again, help you understand what I’m trying to convey today on behalf of the panel. And the pro of this is the energy level. You can really target strategic accounts, high level prospects, really give them that white glove and personalized experience. But the con is that your virtual audience, how are they going to feel that energy? How are they going to be able to really tap into all the excitement and all of the personalized experiences and contents indication that you’re trying to deliver through their digital devices? So, you really have to weigh the pros and cons on that. But if you are going to be moving forward with a hybrid strategy where in-person is the first priority, this could be a great option for you to consider moving forward.

And the final option is what selling speaker only. This is where you take your entire content framework and all of your presenters, whether they’re your employees, whether they’re external, your thought leaders, your celebrity presenters, and you bring them all to one centralized location where you can control the messaging, the look and feel. And that’s really the pro, is the standardization of content so everyone gets familiar and you’re making sure that the brand and the look and feel is represented incredibly well. The negative is, again, you have a complete virtual audience.

So, one trend alert… Okay, trend alert, everyone. We’ve heard of this hub and spoke model for many years. We’ve all tested and piloted this, but I want to employ all of you today to consider integrating that as part of your speaker only model, because you can actually create satellite hubs where you’re regionalizing, maybe even partnering with your field marketing organization, and this can finally bridge that gap of friction or awkwardness between an event leader and a field marketing leader. And you can actually engage local user groups, customers, or prospects, bringing them together and allowing everyone to consume in a real environment while you still have the presenters controlled in a studio environment or audience metric. And this is, again, something that we did incredibly well with Kramer for Agents of Hybrid.

But the one takeaway, knowing all of those models right now, is that there are a lot of options when it comes to events and event technology, and your attendees and your sponsors need to be dictating to you organizers listening today what you should be producing. Remind yourselves and cater to the needs of your community. And that’s everything from do you need more tech? Do you need less content, more interactivity? At Bizzabo, and with Kramer’s partnership, we did a couple different options. We asked questions during the registration process so as we were planning we can make adjustments and really cater on the content to ensure it delivered and provided the actionable insights we were hoping to achieve. I also recommend tapping in through your survey and really some of your brand evangelists or individuals who are diehard alumni who come time and time again to your different programs, make sure you ask them for their input. Create focus sessions. There’s so many ways in which you can better extract those insights to just really pull off an exceptional event experience.

Now, tying this all back to Agents of Hybrid, we select, no surprise, the first model, which was the two simultaneous events model. It’s the most well-known,, probably the most, I would say, typical when we think about those buzz words, the first things that come to mind. And I want to make sure that all of you walk away today, and something that we really need to focus on moving forward in a lesson learned, is really ensuring that we prioritize both audiences and we personalize the experience for the online viewer, as well as the in-person group. We witness different human behaviors by testing a lot of different things which are going to get to later in the program, but I want to make sure that we’re balancing the resources and we’re really talking about some of those challenges.

But the final statement into this question right now is, I want to ask each of you to think about experience mapping with your teams. This is my number one tip for that first lesson. I really think you should sit down, whether it’s a whiteboard, a virtual tool online with your teams if they’re remote and really, again, document all the different personas coming to your event. And not even from the day they walk into the event or experience or log into the platform, but making sure from the number of emails you’re sending, to the communications you’re delivering, to the type of content, all of that’s going to give you a full blueprint, and documenting that as a forcing function to ensure that you have a really well thought out strategy that is going to deliver time and time again.

Elise Orlowski (14:34):

When it comes to experience, do you have any thoughts on that, Mark?

Mark Wilson (14:38):

I’m still trying to recover from all the information that Devon has just given us. That was-

Devon Clary (14:42):

I’m very passionate.

Mark Wilson (14:43):

… that was a fire hose. That was awesome. So, I have a couple of thoughts, but I just wanted to build on a couple of things that you said. Because I think every time we do this, we learn a lot, and doing the program with all of you amazing people at Bizzabo, we learn a lot. You talked about the different models and I think we’ve had great conversation about it. I want to go back to one that you talked about which is hub and spoke. I don’t know if any of you had the chance to see Rich [Sturchio’s 00:15:09] presentation on planning, but we were just talking before the broadcast about how even the hub and spoke model is evolving. Right?

And so, we’ve come to look at hub and spoke as a matrix. And you kind of talked about it, but because of the technology and the options that we have, hub and spoke people tend to think like, “Well, there’s one main broadcast center and then it goes off and maybe I can have viewing parties.” Well, think about it more dimensionally than that. We can connect all those points so that you’re either providing content from any of those points, you may be having dialogue back and forth between two of those points that everybody sees. And clearly, we can bring in speakers from anywhere, content can come from anywhere.

So, the hub and spoke model is not just this and arms, it’s like, think about it as a matrix with points all over the matrix and content or audiences can be traveling back and forth on that matrix. And I think when you said hybrid means everything to everybody or anything to everybody or everything to anybody, I don’t know, one of those things, I think that’s absolutely true because it has so many different meanings, and that’s okay. If you start with your final tip, which is doing the journey mapping, then it’s gotten so much easier to facilitate any of those models and really connect people and do it in real-time.

Tripp Underwood (16:31):

But I think to piggyback on that, one of the foundations of that is having talent or content that’s going to translate for all those audiences. Wherever you see them within the spectrum, the matrix, the terminology, there has to be some universals, and I think that was one of the learnings we had was with some of the people we worked with for the show. Because I thought they translated both well, as someone who watched live and then also saw the on-demand similar to the virtual one, is Katie did really well, I think, as a host.

Mark Wilson (16:59):

So, it’s a great point, Tripp. Thanks for bringing it up. Having a really strong MC, and if you’re lucky enough to have somebody inside your organization, that’s awesome. Highly recommend hiring somebody like… Katie was amazing. Bizzabo brought Katie to the table. I hadn’t met her before. She was awesome, because of her energy and her knowledge and her overall personality. I mean, she’s small, but her personality on camera is so big and there’s so much energy that comes out of her. But she does multiple purposes. She creates energy, but she connects the dots. She’s a friendly face for you to look at. Every time, she’s your element of continuity from a camera and red thread standpoint. But she’s really, really smart and she’s also able to connect the dots for the audience and really make the whole program makes sense. Because one of the conversations that we had talked about often is we don’t want to lose the virtual audience in the process of entertaining the venue audience. Well, having a host really goes a long way toward doing that because she catered to that virtual audience.

Elise Orlowski (18:02):

Yeah, Katie was great. And as someone who personally works behind the scenes a lot and isn’t in front of a camera, except not today, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have talent that really translates well, both live and virtually for those audiences. And that means finding speakers or performers who are willing to try new things and work closely with the production team, which takes us to our second learning which is production matters. Really, really matters. And Lauren, I know this is a point that you feel really strongly about. Could you tell us about production and the role it plays to make a hybrid event successful?

Lauren Care (18:37):

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, without the right production value, you’re left with a glorified conference call. So, partnering with the right production company was everything. The model we chose, as Devon mentioned, we did it because, again, the most insight from an experimental lens. The criteria we used in selecting a partner was we needed some expertise with really great quality broadcast and technical expertise. Communication is going to be a huge component. You get to know each other very well. As we know, we’re on the phone constantly every week. And you also just want to know they have a great proven track record with great customer referrals, which was how we ended up with you. Production also starts really early. You don’t just do the virtual rehearsals, which we know.

One of the things we probably should have even looked at more was spending more time on the hybrid mock-ups. It was something new for us. Literally we’re doing that here today with me being virtual. We definitely recommend a full two weeks prior to the event for as much of a run through as you can and definitely two to three days prior on site. Another thing is practice isn’t just what’s happening on screen. You’ve got to pressure test your product, so we recommend having one to two quality assurance, people from support or sales engineers or your customer success representative check everything. And actually, one thing we would do, again, is probably create an entirely mock event with your tech stack, maybe two weeks in advance, and run through your start to finish, because you’ll see where the weaknesses are, where any concerns are, and what’s going well. And test this out with your employees as a sample.

And then, finally, the last piece of production is, honestly, going through the run of show on site compared to virtual, you nearly forgot you had to plan for [inaudible 00:20:31] on site to physically allow people to move, but then keeping the virtual audience engaged. So, that was where Katie was fantastic with given instructions, but maybe you add in session recaps there or other pieces of information to keep the virtual audience engaged. And onsite, yeah, we forgot at times you have to tell people, “[inaudible 00:20:51] at the back of the room, take a right,” where to go, what the option is, and because we had under 100 it worked out great. But especially as you look at larger audiences on site, again, it’s something definitely to remember.

Elise Orlowski (21:05):

Yeah. That’s a great-

Lauren Care (21:05):

And Mark, I know you’d had a couple of extra thoughts on that, so I’ll give you the floor again.

Tripp Underwood (21:11):

Production master.

Mark Wilson (21:12):

Sure. I’ll try to keep it quick, but I think it starts with planning, starts with having the right partnership. I think, Lauren, you and your team were really amazing in helping us create a good working chemistry, both in the pre-production process, as well as onsite, and that’s important. You have differences, but you work them out. We respect each other a lot. We’ve been working with each other for a long time. And that’s really critical. We talked a little bit about the rehearsal component. You mentioned that. That that live walkthrough that we did at the top of the show was awesome, and it was awesome because we did it, I don’t know, five or six times probably. We rehearsed it a lot of times. We, in fact, we were debating whether or not we should do it live or whether we should do it as a prerecord because it has plenty of problems that go along with it.

But other than a little bit of a delay problem at the very top of the show, everything was was fantastic, and that was really truly because of all the rehearsals that we did. So, having the right planning, the right partnership, the right chemistry, and then rehearsal is my favorite word. Don’t ever cut out your rehearsals. I mean, if I ever work with you, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Don’t cut out your rehearsal time. It’s critical. It is a really critical component. And then, of course, the platform itself is also really critical. I love what you just said, too, about doing a mock event a couple of weeks ahead of time and going through everything and pressure testing, seeing what breaks, because things always break. There’s always problems.

Devon Clary (22:37):

Always.

Mark Wilson (22:38):

But that’s okay. That’s the world we live in and that’s what we do. We’re here to make it run smoothly, manage the chaos, and really deliver.

Tripp Underwood (22:46):

And that’s not unique to hybrid at all either.

Mark Wilson (22:48):

No.

Tripp Underwood (22:49):

Things are going [crosstalk 00:22:50].

Mark Wilson (22:50):

Everything, all the time, life. Yeah.

Tripp Underwood (22:51):

Yeah. So, I mean, I think the big things I’m hearing and picking up that you guys are saying is this idea of there’s lots of planning, there’s lots of rethinking. And then, for me, something I took away from all this is that hybrid required all this innovative, outside the box thinking, and then I had to spend almost as much time taking those ideas and then figuring out how to make them work. Right? Because a great idea that isn’t executable, actually, isn’t really a great idea at all. So, what I liked about this event is that it encouraged me and the team I worked with to think differently upfront while always being mindful of some of the limitations we had to work with within our space, because our offices and studios are fantastic, but they’re not traditional event spaces. So, that created some concerns and some guard rails, which I thought was really fun to think about, but being mindful for us.

Which takes us to lesson three, and this is the idea of getting and embracing the unknown. Kramer side, we tried some things that really pushed us out of our comfort zone, like Mark said that walk up, there was talk of killing it multiple times, but we kept it in because we liked it. It was complicated, but we knew in the end it’d be worth it. And then, Devon, on the Bizzabo side, you guys really doubled down on this get bold and embrace the unknown idea. Your team brought all kinds of cool tech, big thinking. There were the robots running around, there was the [Zeppy 00:24:11] blimp for awhile. It felt like a Star Wars set. There were so many people interacting with gadgets and robots.

Elise Orlowski (24:15):

Well, it’s like, is George Lucas here right now?

Tripp Underwood (24:18):

Exactly. Just curious to hear your thoughts on some of the thinking behind using tech that was, I think, beta testing for some of these [crosstalk 00:24:25].

Devon Clary (24:24):

That’s correct. Yep.

Tripp Underwood (24:25):

Okay. Thought behind using beta testing tech in a live environment like that and some of the learnings you took from it.

Devon Clary (24:32):

What I’d like to focus on right now is really one of the biggest trends we saw come out of the pandemic, and I know that we’re not even over that yet, but one thing that a lot of event organizers can likely shake their heads or raise their hands today is struggling with the offering enhanced networking opportunities and that quality engagement that we so crave to make sure that we were either trying to replicate or realize that it wasn’t possible going to the virtual landscape. I know I’ve experienced that, my team has had challenges with that in the past as well.

But Agents of Hybrid was really a test bed for us, and we looked at it and framed it in that reference. We wanted to make sure that everyone knew coming to this event it was a true live, hybrid experiment, and it was important for us to be truly authentic. We wanted to make sure that if something didn’t work out, that was okay, and we communicated that to our entire extensive teams. We also wanted to make sure that we try to leverage innovative technologies and really looking outside our sphere of comfort to really create unified experiences and see how human behavior was going to engage with those technologies so we could really, again, dissect those learnings and bring them to all of you today.

So, one thing I would like to really focus on is maybe sharing the top three, some of the demos that I really feel like had the most impact or lessons that you can learn yourself. Number one was a company called One Technology. They donated five plus, these mobile robots where we actually allowed the virtual attendees, some of you, again, that are on this call today or on this broadcast had probably participated, you had the ability to control these robots onsite for 30 minutes. We got the idea because last year in Fashion Week, they actually leveraged a series of robots for a couple of high fashion brands and it really allowed people to feel like they were in the action. They could control, they can move the cameras, they could see the different points of view, and that’s what really inspired us. So, again, trend alert, look outside your industry to find inspiration that you can bring to your own event strategy.

But those robots, pros and cons real quick, number one, the pro was people really felt like they were part of the action and they were driving the control. A lot of virtual audiences don’t feel like they’re in control and they’re just following along or they’re being spoken to, versus being spoken with. So, these robots allow that connection point to really come together. The con was you don’t have a 360 view, so if I’m… I don’t really know what’s happening around me. Am I interrupting a private conversation? Is there a session happening around the corner and, again, my noise, my volume is going to impact that? So, just be mindful of that moving forward. And again, more attendee, communication and training in advance would have served us well.

Tripp Underwood (27:17):

I didn’t realize that they were controlling from home?

Devon Clary (27:19):

100% controlling from home.

Tripp Underwood (27:21):

Oh, I thought that was someone onsite was driving around-

Devon Clary (27:22):

No.

Tripp Underwood (27:22):

Oh, wow!

Devon Clary (27:23):

Yes.

Tripp Underwood (27:24):

That’s awesome!

Devon Clary (27:24):

They use their keyboard or their mouse pads and they have full autonomy control. The whole nine yards.

Tripp Underwood (27:29):

Oh, that is awesome.

Mark Wilson (27:29):

Can I just throw out another point?

Devon Clary (27:29):

Yes.

Mark Wilson (27:30):

Which is, so we’ve done other robot experiences, and for all you naysayers out there, the reason it works is because people self-select. I’m holding up my hand, I want to do this, I want to drive. This is really cool. I want to do it. It’s not for everybody and you’re not going to get everybody to do it, and that’s okay. I mean, just let people self-identify, let them drive if they want to drive, and if they don’t want to it, that’s okay. Move on.

Devon Clary (27:53):

100%. The second profile that I’ll share is the Zeppy meeting a helium balloons. So, one of my recommendations to all of you event profs is there is hungry startups out there that have incredible technology and they are looking to partner with organizers. This is your chance to get at no cost technology to try out at your events and really reinforce the innovative and the futuristic approaches that you want your event to be known for from a brand attributes perspective. So, that helium company had a giant… and it almost looked like a hot air balloon, where people virtual attendees could broadcast in and it would be a life-size replication of that virtual attendee and they can engage one-on-one with our in-person audience. It also worked out incredibly well. We had great feedback that… Again, you’re at eye level, it wasn’t an awkward like you’re trying to take a mobile phone device or an iPad and bring that to someone. So, it really was a very realistic recreation that I would, again, really share with all of you to consider the art of the possible moving forward.

And the final was what we called trend boxes. So, during the behind the scenes field trip or tour that you all got at the onset of Agents of Hybrid, Kramer did an amazing job working with us on an experiential landscape to create thematic different spaces. We had sustainability, we had DE&I, things that were really passionate about us, but also the industry at large. And those boxes we tried to allow live feeds where virtual attendees could beam in, and if a physical audience member was there, they could actually potentially form a match, discuss that topic, really dive deeper into these different trends in the events business. I will say it worked well. I don’t think it worked amazing. And I think the in-person experience was much more energized and exciting and interactive than the virtual. So, something we’re going to go back to for part three maybe of AOH next year and really try to recreate and really iterate on top of.

But the final point that I will say is when we’re trying all these experimental technologies, it’s so important to make sure that you’re not overshooting your budget and really being mindful of where you’re investing your dollar. So, we really made the conscious decision to allocate certain line items and prioritize those in the event budget, which is why we wanted to showcase and really transformed Kramer Studios to give you that transition or that handoff, where you could really leverage existing office spaces, if you’re doing a remote workforce, and really use those as the backdrops for your venues so you’re not spending all that money on the space itself, but can really invest in the attendee experience, which is the most important takeaway from today’s discussion.

Elise Orlowski (30:31):

Yeah. I think another thing, I mean, back to your point about being live, embracing live is such a huge thing. I mean, you don’t really get… I mean, even now we’re live. Right? And you don’t get that energy unless it’s live, and we definitely had a ton of energy in the studio, also, because it was… The whole studio was full of attendees.

Devon Clary (30:48):

It was amazing.

Elise Orlowski (30:49):

And we also decided very early in the planning process that we wanted this show, Agents of Hybrid, to be live because, again, there’s just an energy and a spark that you can’t create without it. And Mark, you’ve been doing live and now virtual events for so many years, how-

Mark Wilson (31:03):

So many years, Elise. So many years.

Elise Orlowski (31:08):

I don’t know what CDs are, but Mark does. I mean, from your perspective, what is the secret, the secret sauce, to doing a live broadcast and a live show at the same time?

Mark Wilson (31:21):

Is it complicated? It is complicated, but put away all your fears. I think what we bring to the party, and again, the combination of what we’re doing, Bizzabo’s doing, is the confidence in live. It used to be like you’re probably afraid that if I do this live, what if something breaks? What if something goes wrong? And I would say, at the very beginning of the pandemic when a lot of clients were still new to this and things were a little bit… We had a little problems here and there, yeah, but I think what we’ve done here at Kramer, and I know what others have done, is we’ve really created foundations so that we’ve taken the risk out of it. So, we can do live as easily for a broadcast as we can do live on stage, and I think we’ve just, again, we’ve taken a lot of that risk out of it.

And I just, I want to touch very quickly on a point that… I’m going to treat this like a political debate. I would like to speak to something that my opponent… No, not my opponent, but my running mate, I guess, talked to earlier, which is big, bold is real important. You guys came up with a lot of ideas. We worked together on a lot of stuff. Here’s my main message, which is you get a free pass this year. You get a free pass. People don’t know what to expect, but I will tell you, they expect a lot. So, we can’t come back to ’21, the rest ’21, ’22 with the same old, same old, because it’s not going to fly. I mean, people have been waiting a long time to do a combination of virtual and in-person so you better bring it. And don’t forget, you can’t do anything wrong. You get a free pass. They don’t know what to expect.

Devon Clary (32:47):

It’s unestablished.

Mark Wilson (32:48):

It’s unestablished, so surprise them. Surprise them.

Devon Clary (32:48):

Wild west.

Tripp Underwood (32:51):

Wild west. Lauren, you and I talked a little bit about this. Just curious to hear your thoughts on ongoing live. I know a little hesitant at first, but…

Lauren Care (32:59):

Oh yeah. I mean, first, it was so much fun to be back in action onsite and watch it happen live, so we honestly felt like you gave the experience more credibility for the audience at home and hopefully let them feel more engaged. I know Mark said it is so much more planning and you have one shot, but hopefully, we do get a free pass for that for this year. One of the right conditions is just always triple checking your technology, connect it to the platform. We try to be creative. We sacrifice quality in one of the networking hubs because we hadn’t went through that over and over again. It was me. But I do think that the last 12 months it’s acceptable to be simulive and recorded, but no, you really want to give your attendees a reason to be there and take time out of their day. And honestly, I just feel like live is the way to do that.

Tripp Underwood (33:46):

Yeah. You’re putting a stake in the ground. We’re asking a lot from our audience to take time out of their day to do whatever. We got to put ourselves out there a little bit too, and I think live is a way to do that. Okay. So, speaking of live, I’m looking at my show clock over there and it’s starting to wind down so we’ve got to wrap this up. But our final lesson is super important so I want to make sure we give it the time it deserves, and that is this concept of you need to acknowledge the complexity. As we said up top, hybrid events, in a lot of cases, can be two events, two events that are intertwined. Two events can mean twice the planning and in some cases twice the investment. So, if you’re spending that much time and money, you have to be really committed to this idea from the get-go and you need full buy-in from all your stakeholders, be that internally, externally, all that.

I’m going to throw it back to you, Lauren, real quick because you were one of our main planners and someone dealing with a lot of that complexity, you and Ashley on our side. What are your thoughts on acknowledging complexity, and how do you navigate that?

Lauren Care (34:47):

How do you squeeze this into four minutes? I don’t know. But honestly, the biggest thing is you’re planning for the unknown. Doing hybrid right takes more time, more planning, potentially more expense. The formats we talked about earlier, what are the benefits of them? Is that suitable for your attendees? What do they need to get out of it? What are you looking to get out of it? So, just make sure you have all of those internal discussions before you kick things off. Even look at your staffing capabilities. Just make sure you knew all of this from the journey from day one and then you’re all in.

On the speaker side, we decided very early we wanted to try to have 50% onsite, 50% virtual so that it truly was a hybrid mixture of those taking part as well. One of the things, though, I would say we underestimated is elements of facilitation. So, over-communicate in everything, and we’ll be doing it going forward, where to virtually go next in your screen, where to move in the venue, removing virtual entry and exit points. And one way we even did that, literally a few days before, is combining some sessions and so it just flowed and people didn’t have a reason to leave the agenda to come back in and tries to keep them… And it worked, it kept them engaged for longer.

Also, in the facilitation point, networking. We have been hidden away for 12 months to 18 months and socializing with new people can be nearly tough again, so you can’t make assumptions of human behavior after the year we’ve had. You have to try and give them prompts or boosts of confidence and so people are glued to their phones, so we need to provide more hand-holding and reconnecting networking sessions going forward as well. But we were honest about it all. We knew this when we mapped out the journey from day one. I’m so thankful for the partnership we had. We did this in, what, 10 weeks. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it in a less than 12. We covered, what, 17 total sessions, eight networking, seven interactive. 32 speakers and three forms of keynotes. The great thing was I think the timeframe over two days, three hours of content over two days worked very well. We did roughly 40 minutes for most sessions, and actually some of the analysis we’ve done already is that 25 to 30 minutes is where you get the highest engagement, so that’s the model we’re going to implement going forward.

But it was really exciting to just explore this. I think hybrid, at the end of the day, is a term to just create structure and common understanding for an industry. It’s all of the changes, and labels are just necessary to help guide people and help them gain them confidence. But I definitely have to say I’m really looking forward until we just call them events again, whenever that will be in the future.

Tripp Underwood (37:34):

Yeah. Break down the walls between the two audiences and really start thinking everything at once because that’s the way it’s going.

Elise Orlowski (37:40):

Absolutely. I don’t think anyone here could say that this event wasn’t complex and that it was simple.

Devon Clary (37:46):

But Elise, if I could just make one more statement, too, is when we look at all this analysis post-event, okay, we even saw, we had one very specific question, especially for the virtual audience in the post-survey. We asked them because of that hybrid integration, so integrating those physical in-person with the virtual event experiences and features, what did we see? Did that impact them negatively, no difference at all, and positively. And I will tell you, 38.7% of our audience said because you had hybrid elements that were integrated, it actually increased the positive experience we had as a result of the event. So, it’s just something to really consider going forward, that it does make an impact on your NPS score and everything else you evaluate as event organizers.

Elise Orlowski (38:27):

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. And ultimately, it just leads to a lot more opportunity, opportunity to be creative, opportunity to have new ideas, and opportunity to more audiences in a beneficial way. So, that’s great.

Tripp Underwood (38:37):

We do want to take time to look at a few of the Q&A questions that we received during the event. Elise, I believe you have them called out. Throw it to Elise.

Elise Orlowski (38:46):

So, first, we’re going to hear from, or a question from Dora who asks, and I’m going to kick this over to Lauren, “How many people attended virtually versus physically? And what was the overall [inaudible 00:38:58] and feedback, especially comparing feedback from virtual to physical attendees?” Lauren, do you have any thoughts on that?

Lauren Care (39:06):

Oh yes.

Elise Orlowski (39:07):

A lot of questions.

Lauren Care (39:08):

Okay. So, we had over 5,000 registered. We had 1,600 tuning live. We had about 80 onsite. And we have 300 already watch the event on-demand. So, just our internal goals, what we aim for a CSAT score of 80, we got 82. On our MPS score was 36, and our goal was 35. So, we were very, very happy with that. Just some points we’ve already gathered back from the surveys and feedback was so on-site they felt curious, they felt excited, they felt like we really catered to their experience, and even things from individually wrapped lunches so no one had to go to a buffet. We had sustainable and creative swag, and even like our contactless check-in which [inaudible 00:39:57] provides is all part of the CFD measures, as well as the wrist bands we provided so they can literally wear their comfort level when they’re engaging with other attendees.And then, for them, they got to see everything in action behind the scenes and got a tour of the studios as well. But we do know that we need more directionals needed for the onsite piece going forward.

And then just a couple points in virtual. We need to be better at providing creative ways of event updates, so we hope we did that with the walkthrough with [inaudible 00:40:29] because the feedback from that was honestly some of the best where they felt immersed and a part of it. But we really need to take that and make more of that unique content. And then, one other piece was in our [inaudible 00:40:40] the interact [inaudible 00:40:42] some of the virtual audience members to actually turn on their microphone, turn on their camera, come on stage, and engage with speakers, but we also know that we need to better educate attendees. Katie actually used that going forward with plenty of explanations in advance so that they can utilize that more. So, that was just some of the comments we’ve heard back from.

Elise Orlowski (41:03):

That’s awesome. And feedback’s always great because I think because this is one of the first hybrid events, or our first shot at it, it’s always good to get feedback and be able to then figure out how to fix it for the future. Our next question is from Anonymous, but what was the cost of hosting the event with live broadcasting? Mark, do you have any thoughts on that?

Mark Wilson (41:24):

So, there’s a lot of ways to think about it. One of the questions we get is like, how do we estimate it? What’s it going to cost? It’s very much like a show at a venue. There’re just a lot of variables, but there are set costs. So, when you look at a facility like this, there’s a cost around the studio, there’s a cost for the crew, our amazing crew who’s all behind camera who’s in our hub. So, there’s crew costs, there’s facility costs, there’s gear. And then, it’s the usual thought process about where do we want to spend our money? Like, for instance, we added a gym to make it feel like a really fun, live environment. So, there are lots of decisions to make. I would just say it’s pretty quick and easy for us to create estimates for that kind of stuff because the costs are pretty well established.

Devon Clary (42:09):

Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t add that much more. I think from our perspective is, it’s going back to the construct of your budget. You’re always going to have limitations, whether it’s the timeline, whether it’s the actual program spend you can invest. My only recommendations is really trying to think creatively outside the box. So, as I mentioned earlier, when we tried to engage with startups with really innovative technology for their brand exposure and the ability to really live market testing, we did not really have to cover a substantial fee. So, there’s really ways to give and take. The other example is really, again, looking at your venues and making sure that you’re really investing the core budget into that production so it really does become high quality. And then, again, making sure you’re not sacrificing the overall holistic experience, but again, just really trying to prioritize and align as a holistic business. What is the most important thing to focus on, not only from a resource, but also from a dollars perspective?

Tripp Underwood (43:07):

To your point, to get creative, we saved on venue expense because we used Kramer’s venue, which freed up budget for other things, so that’s something to think of as you go forward, depending on what your balance of audience is, is thinking of traditional venues. And the money you save in that can go back into production elements can, go into speaker… It can all be reallocated because the budget stuff is hybrid just like the spectrum. Nothing is set in stone anymore.

Devon Clary (43:34):

Yeah. And my other feedback is don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by this. Really make the events what work for you, knowing the goals, knowing the audience that you have. It’s really important that you have a slew of options based on those models that we shared today, and each of those come with a different association or assumption around budget.

Elise Orlowski (43:51):

No, that’s great. That’s awesome. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for questions. I know we have a lot of questions from you, so we’ll definitely be following up with more content and be able to answer those questions in later followup content. And please let us know on that… the panel presentations from today will be available on-demand within 24 hours so you could rewatch if you like or share it with a colleague who couldn’t watch it live. You’ll also be receiving a digital hybrid toolkit, which is super exciting, with insights and perspectives on making hybrid work for you. So, keep an eye on that for your inbox and the on-demand content for additional thinkings on these topics. Thank you so much for joining us, and hopefully we’ll see you soon.

Awesome. Well, we hope you enjoyed that conversation. Definitely a little different than we usually do, but definitely as exciting and insightful.

Tripp Underwood (44:41):

Worthwhile. That’s it. Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoyed the conversation.

Elise Orlowski (44:44):

Take care, everyone.

Tripp Underwood (44:45):

See you.

 

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