Designed, refined and built in 30-days amid a chaos of instruction from Westminster, organisers worked with sponsors and suppliers to deliver a virtual Event Tech Live (vETL) in November. Input and attendees stretched across 96 countries, from Western Australia to the West Coast.
Initially, with conferences and exhibitions permitted again from October 1, in government theory at least, Event Tech Live 2020 was inching towards a hybrid incarnation.
Requisite testing, social distancing and limited numbers were set for the show’s traditional home at the Old Truman Brewery, East London, alongside/in the middle of a week of digital exhibitors and content.
That was until soaring numbers of Covid-19 infections and increasingly tight restrictions scotched the idea, which meant Event Industry News and partners producing a first vETL instead, against the clock.
Through equal measures of luck and judgement the virtual doors opened at 10am GMT with panel session What will hybrid events and exhibitions look like post-Covid? Collingwood Advisory founder Piers Bearne chairing reps from IMEX Exhibitions, the Eventful Group and the Emerging Payments Association.
Virtual Event Tech Live closed five days later, at 6pm on Friday 6th, after Minneapolis-based tech producer/consultant, the very American sounding Brandt Krueger, and Endless Events founder Will Curran’s telling look ahead; Welcome to 2030: Your Hybrid Event Life.
One hundred and one exhibitors then, 172 sessions – a mixture of on demand and live – and 2,665 attendees across the five days, each taking in nine sessions according to the stats, as well as using the platform to meet people and to interact with them. An amazing achievement.
Feedback from visitors and exhibitors, who had to adjust as quickly as anybody, was equally encouraging, in the ‘you can do this’ sense, and positive.
“By the end of virtual ETL 2020 I felt like I was part of the event tech community again, re-establishing relationships, meeting new ones and having an all-round great time. Now I am looking forward to the physical experience in 2021,” Matt Harris, chairman and CEO at virtual, hybrid and ‘Kontactless’ smart tech specialist Konduko, said.
“You don’t have the traditional footfall of course, but there have been no tyre kickers as a result,” Shane Lewis, business development manager at exhibitor VenuIQ, added. “It’s been good. Every conversation I’ve had has been really engaged. People know what they want and I’ve got a really busy next two weeks as a result.”
It’s impossible to compare vETL 20 with any previous edition. Arguably, with much of the world in lockdown or not far from it and industry/industries looking everywhere for ideas, advice, solutions to help them see around this steep coronavirus corner, it was, quite literally, a captive audience.
At the same time though, there’s no ego or tradition at Event Tech Live. It’s always been about partnerships, content, innovation and the next generation, so the show had an extraordinary reputation to look after.
“Typically, Event Tech Live and the Event Technology Awards are there to discuss, learn about, look at examples of virtual/hybrid solutions – among many other things – in a physical setting,” co-founder Adam Parry comments. “This year we put that tech, that talk, into practice.
“Being ETL there was an added pressure, an inference of ‘this is how you do it’, so, as we have seen many other shows do this year, the pivot was about beating big odds.”
Certainly, getting the content and interaction right was crucial and with 15,068 session attendees, 4,608 meeting requests and 12,557 messages sent, vETL did that.
“We offered speakers AM, PM or a no preference options to accommodate the different time zones,” Parry said. “We made the AMs as early as possible, the PMs as late as possible and filled the middle with no preferences. There were a few panels with participants from both hemispheres, but we got there.
“My thanks, as ever, to our partners – headline sponsor EventsCase, Lineup Ninja for delivering the schedule, First Sight Media, which rehearsed with every speaker, filmed and relayed the content, Glisser for managing the weight of questions at every session and Grip, which provided the ETL platform as well as managing the myriad meetings and matchmaking.
“We’re really happy with the way the event performed – from content, and there was a whole lot of it across the five days – to the interactions.”
Having done it now, vETL is sure to leave a manageable mark on the Event Industry News portfolio. All things being equal, and the vaccine chat as I write this bodes well, the company will be back with a hybrid Event Tech Live in 2021.”