Hybrid Is the New Normal

06.08.20213 min read

Hybrid and virtual events are here to stay. How to make your online event memorable? Here’s what brand experience makers need to know.

Pandemic-related restrictions remain everywhere from offices to venues and airports, but the brand experience industry keeps moving, adapting, and creating. Now is the time to instigate new standards - ones that go beyond crisis response and have their eyes focused on long-term innovation.

So, how can online and hybrid events shed traditional formats to raise the bar when it comes to brand experience? What is the relationship between creativity and technology, and how do event teams develop to stay ahead of the game? These are just some of the questions that have generated animated discussion - to say the least! - at Uniplan offices globally. While the debate is still ongoing, some valuable insights have been gained. Here are five ways to deliver online and hybrid events to remember - now, and for years to come.

Adapt and survive

With 2020’s accelerated transition from live to hybrid and online events, a team’s skillset needs to evolve. Extended capacity in motion design, content and production is invaluable in this new business environment. While the physical build and logistical aspects of brand experience remain essential, environments are less complex from an architectural perspective. Instead, we have an enhanced focus on content delivery.

Teamwork makes the dream work

CGI and XR are crucial to online and hybrid events. That means a solid in-house understanding of technical production needs to be matched with a strong network of innovators in these areas. Team leaders need to ensure efficiency – understanding the workflow in new disciplines, and acting as a bridge between client and partners. Remember that content produced using CGI and XR has a longer development time, and production can only start once the client has fully confirmed the creative direction of the event. Event producers should manage timelines accordingly so the production time for tech partners won’t shrink as the project goes on - and it will be delivered right on schedule.

Use PGC to drive UGC

Without the physical experience of a live event, content is the way to create an emotional response in the digital space. Professionally Generated Content (PGC) needs to bring branded messaging to the audience, and keep them engaged throughout the duration of the event. It is also crucial to take that message further - make the PGC good, and the audience will want to share it, to create User Generated Content (UGC), endorsing and multiplying those messages in their own networks. Keeping an audience interested and engaged with innovative, informative and entertaining PGC is crucial. UGC should then be promoted and welcomed - using clear messaging, and techniques such as rewarding audiences for their participation.

Creativity trumps technology

While traditional events relied on a physical journey through different areas of a venue, keeping the audience engaged in a virtual environment requires a different approach. PowerPoint-style presentations need to be replaced by newer technologies such as XR. However, this is not enough to stand out on its own. The environment around the presenter, as well as the visual content that s/he delivers in the presentation, should have a strong creative idea behind them.

Test, test, test and test again

Content produced in CGI and through XR technology can bring technical challenges. Considering XR is still relatively new, providers of equipment like Disguise hardware are in short supply, as are the technical personnel to operate it. A strategic partnership that can secure resources for your events is priceless. As is time for testing, and finding the right technology to deliver your event. Disguise, for example, tends to work better with relatively abstract virtual environment design, as its rendering textures are not up to the standards of CGI. When rendering XR-developed scenes in real time, the Unreal Engine is one of the most common tools. Time needs to be factored in to perform these tasks, after the creative direction is set and before the event execution. And a final addition to the checklist: if your event is a pre-recorded format, remember to allocate time for post-production.

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