West Midlands based conference and events company Opening Doors & Venues (OD&V) hosted its first interactive and engaging Hybrid Event Experience to celebrate 21 years in business and showcase what a true ‘blended’ hybrid event can deliver. Created as a response to the huge changes that have arisen in the events industry in the past year, their aim was to hold an event to demonstrate how the concept of the ‘best of both worlds’ can be achieved for virtual and in-person guests.
The Hybrid Event Experience took take place on Thursday 22nd July 2021 at venue partner Sixways Stadium, Worcester, home to Premierships Rugby’s Worcester Warriors, and was attended by over 100 registered guests both virtually and physically.
Hybrid events have become a new offering to OD&V clients from this year. In June 2021, OD&V also teamed up with Meet Cambridge, the official venue finding service for the Cambridgeshire area, and Suzy Howes & Associates Limited, to expand its support for clients and venues in the region with a specialist service focussing on delivering hybrid and virtual events.
The morning event was hosted and presented by Mary Rhodes the Journalist and Broadcaster, who interviewed live and virtual guests including the first British person in space and first British astronaut, Helen Sharman CMG OBE. As a world-class inspirational speaker, Helen shared her own learning experience and top tips for virtual and hybrid events along with some fascinating stories of her life as an astronaut and her exciting space mission 30 years ago (including her 180 gramme luggage allowance!), adjusting to life back on Earth and why communication has been so essential in her career.
Both physical attendees and virtual participants from across the globe, as far reaching as Australia were kept entertained with informative live content from the venue and via the customised event app. The virtual platform and app allowed for a full interactive audience experience throughout the hybrid event, ensuring both audiences felt very much part of the proceedings. Live poll results from the app provided insights into how both audiences were thinking; when asked which type of event they preferred 68.2% opted for in person and 31.8% chose virtual, indicating a strong appetite for hybrid events and shared experiences.
The event was supported by a number of industry collaborations including DBA Speakers and key technical support partners: Stone’s Throw Media, VenuIQ and Mercian Events, who all worked together to create this new OD&V Hybrid product. Visual communicator and digital illustrator, Laura Brodrick of Think Big Picture, captured the essence of the event in a creative digital way, producing a final ‘live’ pictorial illustrated summary of the event.
Rose Padmore, Director of Opening Doors & Venues Ltd, said:
“2021 is a momentous year for us and we felt it was important to do something special, the last 18 months have been very challenging times to bring groups and delegates together for face-to-face events. We believe it’s more important than ever to think creatively and we wanted to host one event with two experiences – a hybrid event that provides an innovative and accessible answer to today’s challenges facing the events industry, combined with the latest developments in technology advances. We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sixways who played host to our very special event, their super-fast broadband was an essential hybrid event requirement!”
The event experience was a lot of hard work behind the scenes, a real team effort but enormous fun; we were also delighted to have the opportunity to launch the support of our chosen charity, Worcester Warriors Community Foundation which includes their award-winning dementia cafe. The charity is close to our hearts and supports our company values with their ethos that aims to help build a legacy for sport, education, health and social cohesion across the communities within their reach”
As part of the 2021 anniversary celebrations, OD&V has appointed long time employee Madalina Marincas to the Board of Directors. For the University College Birmingham event management graduate and industry professional, it’s been a significant and celebratory year as she has also become ABPCO’s (Association of British Professional Conference Organisers) latest Full PCO (Professional Conference Organiser) member having progressed from student and associate member.
“This year marks the anniversary of 21 years of OD&V, and we are delighted to be celebrating with customers old and new, suppliers, industry partners and our team. Having a fantastic team, supportive partnerships and working closely with our customers over the years to build strong relationships has resulted in our excellent record of exceeding expectations, customer retention, creating excellence in events and growth for the company.”