THE WORLD OF VIRTUAL EVENTS
In this final segment of Tallinn’s interview series, virtual event organisation experts Leho Valmas (Global Productions Estonia), Lehari Kaustel (Global Virtual Solutions, Royal Experience), Taavi Puuorg (Frank Events) and Neeme Kari (HYPE), talk about virtual event spaces, and how the year 2020 influenced their lives.
Should a conference web environment be created for a virtual/hybrid conference as well?
Leho Valmas: Every set of information and portal is crucial to find the information you are looking for quickly. Technically, however, the expectations and needs of each client are very different, including those related to Internet security and the legally correct handling of personal data. Not to mention everything from registration forms, which must be linked to the domain of the organiser/client, to the nuances related to the licenses of various video players. I believe that a conference web environment can be a set of links, either based on the venue or the company. It is technically extremely difficult to gather all the information on one platform. Various technical service providers also play an important role.
Taavi Puuorg: It is not always necessary. However, in the case of conferences or seminars, it would make it convenient for the participant to browse the event programme and send their questions or comments. There are several platforms that help to involve people in the work process.
Lehari Kaustel: It is recommended, but it depends on the event and the needs of the client. We can create a web environment for each event. A tailor-made web environment for a virtual event adds a lot of individuality and promotes brand awareness.
Neeme Kari: Having such an environment is important because it brings together the video, break-out rooms, and a solution for questions and answers, the expo, and establishing contacts and communicating with other participants. There are many different platforms for this, including the Estonian Worksup platform.
How can the exhibition and sponsorship area be organised virtually?
LK: However you want! There are endless possibilities. In the case of a physical event, only a limited number of exhibits can be taken on site due to limited space. Virtually, however, it is possible to build completely new worlds. Today, most companies and institutions have websites that thoroughly introduce their product, brand, creation, or service. It is also possible to create virtual showrooms or introductory video tours. We animate, create 3D solutions, and provide sound solutions – there are limitless possibilities! There is great potential to go beyond what a physical conference or fair would allow.
TP: Unfortunately, we have no experience in this regard. However, a number of think tanks have been organised on this topic. A production company should be involved here, as a lot depends on the technical aspects of the broadcast.
NK: The possibility to establish equivalent human contact is limited. However, all of the necessary information can be provided. There are various online expo solutions that people are getting more and more used to. For the exhibitor/sponsor, the result is important. Therefore, we have offered alternative solutions, such as virtual reality expos, ad clips, and physical booths/showrooms where presentations/interviews take place.
LV: We have experience with various technical solutions, but no virtual expo has fulfilled its purpose so far. Product samples are still sent to the offices of the clients or private demo events are arranged. We are of the opinion that sponsor logos in the video window interfere with the acquisition of information. A tastefully designed background, a branded water glass or coffee mug, or custom folders for the moderator and guests give the sponsors plenty of room to play.
What role has the Tallinn Conference Bureau played in your work? Has cooperation with them so far been necessary?
TP: The cooperation so far has been very good. As organisers, we like to research and view the content that the Conference Bureau has added to its website. It gives us more information and helps us generate new ideas. In our opinion, it is especially important that the created database has a proper structure for the various conference rooms. Information on capacities and additional information are all in one place.
NK: Over the years, the Conference Bureau has done a very good job of introducing Estonia to the world. It is very important that this trend continues, as Tallinn has become a world-class venue for virtual and hybrid conferences, both in terms of state-of-the-art technical solutions, locations, as well as management companies.
LV: I am very happy that the Tallinn Conference Bureau has been set up and you are working hard to gather information at different levels. The choice of different service providers is wide and it is impossible to choose the best one. Each client requires a different approach and pricing logic. Global companies are sometimes tied to corporate agreements, where it is recommended to prefer a specific hotel chain, transfer platform, etc. Meetings with the employees of the Tallinn Conference Bureau are very pleasant, friendly, and constructive.
LK: Cooperation with the Tallinn Conference Bureau is very important for us. The Bureau has allowed us to make many foreign contacts. We have received help to introduce ourselves in the destination countries. Not to mention the versatile communication that has helped us to improve our service. Support for increasing marketing and visibility is also important.
What are you currently most interested in, what are you paying more attention to now, and what did last year’s experience change in your life?
NK: For me, the changed world has created a favourable opportunity for me to further develop myself as a trainer and coach. What fascinates me most about it is that I can create real value for people and organisations for better adapting to changes and achieving the desired results with a lower level of stress and being happier in the end.
LV: Work is so important in adult life that it cannot be considered as a separate thing. We are inevitably thinking work-related thoughts even when doing sports or cooking. Last year was very exciting and positive. I especially enjoyed the openness, peacefulness, and friendliness of the people. Because people have more time off, more attention is paid to details and a lot of new ideas are created, which are also transferred to working projects. Thanks to the new situation, we got back to the routine with the children where we start and end the day together at the dining table, having previously cooked together. My children have learned to cook dozens of new meals in the last year. Time spent together is extremely important as we can listen to each other’s thoughts, sometimes worries, but mostly good emotions.
LK: I have been thinking a lot lately about what the world will look like after this pandemic. Many former habits and practices have changed and we need to get used to the new way of life. I sometimes think about how people cope with all this stress. Doing good and helping others has become particularly important. I hope that is what others are thinking about as well.
TP: What fascinated me the most was that people have the will to discover the nature of Estonia. Secondly, people (at least my close ones) take better care of their health. I have never before spent so much time in nature or doing different sports. I also try to make more and more time for my family and read more books.