In 2022, Stagedge partnered with global biotechnology company bioMérieux to bring their annual international sales meeting from dream to reality. On the day of the event, more than 700 attendees tuned in virtually from Paris, Montreal, North Carolina, and beyond. Despite a quick pivot only weeks before the conference from in-person to hybrid, it was a summit to remember, with a live band and emcee on-site in Miami and cutting-edge broadcasting technology led by film crews on two continents. Here are our biggest takeaways.
Hybrid events have the power to "wow" participants, elevating your brand to new heights and attracting new interest. But a poorly run event can have the opposite effect, leaving attendees feeling like they've wasted their time. In our two-part series, we're bringing you behind the scenes to show you real-life tips on how our event-production experts pivoted from a major international sales event to hybrid. In Part I, we offered tips on livestreaming, audience engagement, and utilizing show leads. In Part II, we'll look at what it takes to bring your event production to the next level: investing in broadcasting technology, ensuring you have the best production team, and gathering metrics.
1. When it comes to video production, think like television studios
After two years of meeting online, audiences are tired of suffering through mass Zoom calls and badly executed virtual events. They expect a much better experience—and your video production is at the heart of that. With the BMX event, says Rich Mankiewicz, senior director of production, the Stagedge team was able to produce television-level broadcasts from three different locations, which required sending production crews to Florida, Canada, and France.
"I would say the most innovative thing we incorporated into this event—and we did it in a short turnaround time—is setting up LiveU crews on the other side of the pond," says Mankiewicz. "We were essentially a broadcast TV station, with live shots from around the world coming in."
Even more remarkably, Stagedge facilitated real-time communication among all three event venues, a feat that required their production teams to manage speakers and audience members in each location. "We were getting HD broadcast video coming to us, and we were allowing speakers and audience to interact, back and forth, in real-time," says Mankiewicz. "It was amazing."
Stagedge's technical director, Chris Casimiro, notes that you'll also want your speakers to film from a professional studio, if possible, as it will upgrade your production to a TV studio look and feel. "When people are at home or in their offices," he notes, "you'll be unable to control for variables like background sounds, decor, and interruptions."
2. Don't skimp on your team
Managing an event in three locations, like BMX's international sales meeting, requires a lot of moving parts. But even hybrid events conducted from one central location require a team of technical experts to produce a seamless and sophisticated experience. Your team should include videographers who have access to the top cameras and technology, lighting directors, audio technicians, IT personnel, event managers, and assistants.
"Your production team is critical, whether they're telling you the number of cameras you'll need, how early you need to start registration, or pointing out the impact of having presenters onstage," says Casimiro. "The best production partners will offer you a different way of looking at things that you're probably not thinking of from inside your organization."
Senior Technical Director Aaron Brown notes that the team's ability to collaborate is also crucial. "Obviously, being technically savvy is huge, but the team also has to be able to work together seamlessly and in sync," he says. "You've got the video and camera team, with one person switching to the web and one switching to the room. Then you've got someone shading, someone doing playback—you might need six or eight people to make one cue happen."
3. Gather and analyze metrics
Which workshops were the most popular? When did attendee attention start to fade? Your event is a smorgasbord of data that later can be used to increase sales and improve future events—if you are gathering it. At the BMX event, audience members could create their own agenda from a mixture of general sessions and a selection of breakout panels focused on various topics. They also had access to Q&A and chat features that allowed them to interact with presenters and other attendees.
"The platform we used for the BMX virtual venue has a robust analytics platform, meaning that we could give those data sets to the client at the end of the event," says Melissa Wolfe, solutions engineer at Stagedge. "We can see when users logged on, when they logged off, and which sessions they attended. We also get all of the chat and Q&A transcripts for the client to review." Access to this data means that BMX can reach out to attendees who did not get specific questions answered and improve next year's event by bringing back or building upon topics that were the most popular.
It Takes Talent to Pivot
Pivoting a 700-person international event to hybrid at the last minute was an enormous lift, and it was only possible because the Stagedge team had the experience and talent to know what needed to happen—fast. "We work with the best, from stagehands all the way up to technical directors, producers, cameras—everything," says Mankiewicz. "This is what allowed us to pivot. When you're working with the best of the best, shifting on a dime is easy and it's doable."
With experience hosting in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, Stagedge guides clients through the entire planning process, from idea to execution. Plus, our state-of-the-art studio provides clients with access to the latest AV technology and staging to enhance production value and engage their audiences. Learn more at www.stagedge.com/stage.