Television, video games, and social platforms have all been successfully engaging audiences in a digital format for years, and virtual events have been trying to take cues from these mediums throughout the pandemic to engage their own attendees.
As the industry starts to move toward hybrid events, finding new ways to connect the onsite speakers and exhibitors with the virtual audience will be key. To address this need, MeetingPlay has recently launched a new “Go Live” option on its mobile app, similar to the Go Live feature you’ll find on Instagram, Facebook, and other social platforms.
While one of the advantages of “Go Live” is that it’s a concept that many people are already familiar with thanks to social media, Joe Schwinger, MeetingPlay Founder & CEO, shares that no particular platform inspired this new feature. Rather, it was a product of how “the social norms of how we interact with each other has changed during the pandemic. Where we used to call, now we FaceTime. This is naturally where we think that hybrid events need to go — it's playing off of the new social norms.”
Schwinger notes that one of the first things the platform did when events switched to virtual was enable face-to-face communication where possible. After a session, for example, speakers have the option to go live and answer questions from the audience, and sponsors have the same functionality to go live and do demos from their virtual booths.
“When the pandemic started,” he says, “sponsors hated virtual environments. And then a couple months later, when they got used to how to best use these tools, they started to like virtual a bit more. As we've been rolling out hybrid in the last four months, it turns out they actually love some of that functionality.”
Schwinger shares that the number one thing that event stakeholders were missing onsite as they resumed hybrid events was a “communication vehicle to speak to a larger audience” like they had had with fully virtual events. “We wanted to provide a tool that everybody on property has in their hands, and that extends into the virtual environment for that face-to-face interaction that we had in virtual and that I believe people gravitated towards.”
“Go Live” aims to ensure that no one feels as though they are missing out on anything — whether they’re remote or onsite. The functionality is currently available for speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors, but Schwinger explains that the next phase he anticipates will include matching people to topics that they’re interested in and allowing them to broadcast to others with the same interests.
MeetingPlay currently offers two options for the “Go Live” feature — one is audio-only mode, and the other includes both audio and video, which can easily be added as part of a higher sponsorship tier at the planner’s discretion.
“Meeting planners are able to show sponsors that coming on property is still going to provide the same reach as if they only did virtual, and they will have tools to enhance the overall experience,” says Schwinger. “It's almost like we've created a broadcast channel for the booth.”
When it comes to the future of hybrid, “everybody is still experimenting,” he notes. “Budgets, best practices, you name it — we're all back to square one. The vision of the future will be dictated by adoption — we can’t shove something into the attendee journey if they don't want it. Our meeting planners and attendees will tell us where to go. And where we think they want to go is a one-click button to connect the virtual and on property via video and voice, which is what we've become accustomed to over the last 16 months.”