Hybrid events the new normal for OzParty
When ‘in-person’ events were suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Sydney-based event planning company OzParty Events launched an innovative suite of virtual team building activities to provide ways for remote workers to connect socially.
Using video technologies such as Zoom, teams were able to meet online from the comfort of their home offices with creative talent to enjoy a broad range of events from cocktail classes, to nostalgic TV game show experiences, and training sessions.
OzParty Events Founder, Daniel Udall said, “It was our way of positively responding to the Australian mass gathering ban, which effectively shelved all of our in-person corporate and social events for the foreseeable future.
“We hosted some of the events ourselves virtually and worked in partnership with our event talent to adapt their experiences to the virtual platform,” says Daniel. “We’ve since helped over 50 Australian artists, chefs, entertainers and performers create successful virtual experiences that our clients and their teams love.
“It’s really been so positive to help other businesses, which also helped our business thrive through COVID.”
Award winning online solutions
Shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Small Events Company category at the 2020 Australian Events Awards, Daniel doesn’t see OzParty Event’s move to virtual services as ‘a stopgap solution’.
He explains, “We do expect a strong return to in-person events over-time and are working with our clients to do what we can this year and next. In fact, the order book for mid-late next year is filling up fast as postponed events from 2020 are re-scheduled to next year.”
That said, Daniel believes the need for virtual experiences and online team building will continue to grow post-COVID-19 “as we continue to embrace the new world of working”.
“It’s revolutionised our company’s mindset and range of event services,” he said.
The rise of the hybrid event
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the hybrid event is a case in point. A hybrid event can be a tradeshow, conference, seminar, workshop, office Christmas party, awards event or any team building occasion that combines a ‘live’ in-person event with a ‘virtual’ online component using Zoom or other video conferencing technologies.
The appeal of the hybrid event is that it allows the in-person event show to go on, but responsibly, as social distancing restrictions are gradually eased by governments around the world, according to Daniel.
“With the larger conferences that we host, most of them will want a hybrid option because people and business are making decisions based on safety, economics and environmental considerations more than ever before.
“While coming together in-person remains key for many companies and attendees, hybrid events do offer more sustainable solutions and a more cost-effective ticket option.”
On a macro level, Udall believes the hybrid event will pave the way to recovery and growth for SMEs operating within the events industry. “Not only will the hybrid event allow more people to engage with an event – which is also a big upside for sponsors, but they offer more choice – and people like choice based on financial or time considerations.
“Pivoting rapidly into virtual and hybrid events in April enabled us to work with many major brands and government bodies over the past six months for the first time such as Adobe, Google, leading financial institutions and other notable SMEs across APAC and the USA.
He concluded, “It’s been fascinating and rewarding to get to know the internal teams of some of the world’s biggest brands and help them connect their teams and preserve their culture in fun and unique ways.”
Daniel’s tips for SMEs now facing the COVID-19 recovering phase:
- Have contingency plans. You might take three steps forward and then five steps back with a border closure or new restrictions. Expect the unexpected. Although, we believe hybrid and virtual events will be an insurance policy against any border closures that in the past may have forced the cancellation of an event.
- Social media and referral marketing. We got more active on LinkedIn throughout COVID-19 and have increased our referral business dramatically. Referrals from our database have been critical as many firms initially had low expectations about virtual events. When people are sceptical referrals from our existing clients helped encourage new leads to act.
- Expand your offerings. We diversified into a range of virtual experiences including games-based events such as TV games shows, disco bingo and adventure trivia in addition to hands-on workshops and experience-based team events such as cocktail and cooking classes. We were super accommodating and responsive and made things happen for our clients by creating personalised events they loved.
- Resilient mindset. Even on the dark days, you must come into the office with your game face on for your clients, suppliers and teams.
To find out more about the broad range of in-person, virtual, and hybrid event services offered by OzParty, visit https://ozpartyevents.com/.
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