Hybrid events – what are they all about?

“I'm organising a hybrid event and it would be great if you could provide the technical support for the event” requested Paul Cook of Planet Planit.

Ehh? What the heck is a hybrid event? I'd heard of hybrid cars...but whilst most conferences run on hot air I wasn't aware that a combination of petrol and electricity came into the equation.

This was to be the first Event Camp Europe. Hot on the heels of a successful event in the US, it was apparently going to be an experiment. Bunsen burner and googles on the ready!

A combination of live event speakers with face paced ‘TED’ style presentations supported buy a whole multitude of digital technologies –web streaming, Google hangouts and Skype.

So the first challenge - how on earth were we going to deliver his event in a 14th Century country house - Down Hall. We wanted attendees to have access to the virtual world throughout the events to maintain what I found out was called the ‘Twitter back channel' - the official title of constant Twitter witter. At last a conference where it was being demanded that you kept your phone on!

So, a decent bandwidth was essential.

The solution - a temporary satellite and a whole lot of cable.

Down Hall was to host the live event but would be linked to simultaneous meetings taking place in remote pods in Sweden, Poland, Belgium and the principality of Croydon.

We had also set up a POD in a separate location of Down Hall so that live event attendees could also immerse themselves in a virtual experience. So overall there would be three audiences attending the event - remote attendees – from across the globe but mainly from Europe, USA and Canada; face to face attendees – circa 40 at Down Hall and the POD people – each POD had around 10 people in each.

Event Camp Europe 2011Like a TV reality show the event would move between presentations to the live audience and studio links from a virtual MC to the ‘viewers’ at home. The result... Well it was certainly clear from the Tweeting and Twittering that we had the virtual audience hooked.

With the aplomb akin of a regular presenter for Bid TV – Emilie Barta did a fantastic job of keeping the virtual audience engaged with the live event. For a system that so cheap and easy to set up, the Google Hang outs did a great job of allowing the PODs to interact with each other. Presenters were Skyped in from the US.

Overall the event was a carnival of technology that gave one the feeling that with such communication becoming second nature in our home lives it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm for the live event industry. This doesn’t have to cost the earth...these technologies are easily available and in most cases they’re free.

Ok...at the moment the experience is alittle clunky…..but experiments like Event Camp Europe 2011 are a great way to start bridging the gap between low level use to serious business and conference use. With the emerging new ‘Generation Z’ kids on the virtual block we can’t ignore the communication demands afoot in the event industry... I for one are terrified of being left behind...so bring on Round 2 of the Event Camp Europe experiment!

Liz Rice, Director – Metro Broadcast

Twitter - @misslizrice

Please note, the views expressed here are the witterings of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metro Broadcast.


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