As I sit in my home office, the idea of live, virtual or streaming events is not only on the forefront of my mind, but it's inundated my in-box.
Having been in the live events business for almost 25 years, it's not uncommon for me to get solicitations from companies offering virtual events or streaming services. With all that's going on today, I feel that this is not only something that needs to be embraced but can be a real platform out of necessity for companies that produce live events.
NEW OPPORTUNITY The COVID-19 virus has decimated the live events and hospitality industries, and although there's a lot of negative feelings and hardships being felt, there is an opportunity for us as live event industry professionals to navigate these new waters and not only serve our clients, but also build new tools for our industry.
Things will return to normal. Jobs will be refilled And personally, I'm extremely confident that we as an industry will return stronger than ever. With that said, people are always asking me, “What are the options for streaming events, webinars, virtual events and trade shows?”
There are some platforms that have been around for a long time, and some new ones gaining popularity over the last few years. As you may have heard, many of these options have become overwhelmed with an influx of business, and some have suffered bandwidth issues. But I do believe all that will be resolved in a very short time.
When we talk about live-streaming events we need to clarify which aspect are we referring to. Animatic Media owns a brand called Conference-On-Demand.net, where we record our client’s live event sessions with slides and audio and put them in a portal for future viewing by the client’s audience. Within that we also can take the live event and stream it out there in near real time to an international audience immediately. There are even simple ways to bring in a live feed of aa remote presenter and display it on the screen in front of a live audience.
ALL IN THE MIX I was somewhat hesitant to get into brands and specifics in this article, but at the same time I do want to make it as useful for you all as possible. With that said, I'll give you a little bit of feedback on things I've learned over the years about some companies who offer different types of streaming services.
You have companies such as ON24, Zoom, Brightcove, INXPO and even our own Conference-On-Demand platform, all offering a variety of services from webinars to live streaming to full-blown virtual conferences with trade shows.
I think what you need to ask yourself is: What is it you're really trying to accomplish? If you're dealing with cancellations of live events during this pandemic, you might just need to give yourself a presence for your audience to see content. We all know that the P&L is front of mind, but in some cases, you really need to stay in front of the people who support your business. I'm referring of course to your sponsors, clients and attendees, who are the lifeblood of your event businesses.
Most of you have spent the vast majority of your time over the last few weeks on some Zoom meetings, which of course is a very efficient and cost-effective way of communicating live from remote locations including video and screen-sharing. It may not be the sexiest looking thing out there, but it's very efficient and easy to use.
ON24 and Brightcove offer a suite of services for video but, quite frankly, I have never found them to be very cost-effective, and unless you're a big player in their world, I've always felt like I've taken a backseat to some of their larger clients when I've engaged with them.
INXPO and some other virtual trade show companies offer some very powerful platforms, but in my opinion, using the avatars and environments they expect people to engage in feels very “90s” to me, and these do come with somewhat of a beefy price tag with lengthy ramp-up times. That's not to say if you have a need and a desire to do a virtual trade show you should not engage with them, but in full disclosure, I will admit that trade shows are not a major part of my business.
At Animatic, we just relaunched Conference-On-Demand this spring to add in Conference-On-Demand +LIVE. We wanted to do it in such a way to give you the production experience you would have sitting in the audience at one of our live events. A full suite of services and experiences for the audience with things such as room-fill music, sponsor loops, and commercials that can played (which is also a potential form of revenue for the event host company) as well as being able to look at some very visually appealing graphics never made available before in this format.
My point to all of this is that we're all learning to adapt together. I've been keeping in touch with not only my clients but my vendors and freelancers, as well as even some competitors.
I will leave you with this thought: In movies about the apocalypse, it's always the same old story. A cutthroat world where people will climb over you just to get what they want little regard for anybody else. But aside from hoarding toilet paper, I've seen just the opposite.
I've seen people lending a hand who normally may be more introverted. I've seen people offering to help and deliver food and supplies to those in need. I've seen people committing to future business for those freelancers who are really suffering at this time, and to all of you, I applaud you for that.
My prediction is the second half of 2020 is that it will undoubtedly look different. People may be displaced, they may find new work homes, but the event professional is a very unique breed. They're problem-solvers, they are chameleons, and I am proud to be one of them.
I'm predicting the second half of 2020 to be very busy for all of us. Here is the key: Learn from what we have experienced during this difficult time, and carry it as a school and not a burden.
Scott Frankel is president of Hicksville, N.Y.-based Animatic Media, which for more than 20 years has been an award-winning, full-service video and corporate event production company. The team offers video production and presentation support for event and marketing needs; his team supported The Special Event 2020 in Las Vegas at noteworthy events including the Opening General Session and the Gala Awards.