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SHIFT 2021: Zuddl and ETP’s masterclass on how to do hybrid right

8 hours
Average time spent at event

The challenge

Did you know 58% of businesses say they’re planning for a mix of virtual and in-person events aka hybrid events?

That’s huge — but also totally unsurprising.

The pandemic pivot to virtual events pushed businesses big and small to hold all their meetings, summits, conferences, company offsites, etc. online. And in doing so, they were awakened to the advantages specific to this medium: greater attendance, better engagement, more data points, and higher ROI.

It became clear that everyone pivoting to hybrid events needed to get better at it, and fast. And so, there was a pressing need for knowledge exchange, for expert know-how on best practices and strategies to adopt.

As this is something Zuddl and our partner Entertainment Technology Partners (ETP) are really passionate about,  we decided to draw from our combined experience in hosting 100s of virtual and hybrid events for the largest companies worldwide - Microsoft, Github, Tiktok, Kelloggs, etc. - to host SHIFT 2021, a one-of-a-kind hybrid event about all things hybrid.

The most important goal, therefore, as in all events hybrid, was to create a seamless, connective, and engaging event experience for all attendees - regardless of whether they were joining the event which was held in July 2020, in-person at the venue in Orlando, or on Zuddl.

The result

Here’s how we pulled this off

1. Captivating content = higher attendance and engagement

What good is any event without top-tier speakers and sessions? Unhampered by travel restrictions, we were able to bring together prominent industry leaders from across the globe to speak at SHIFT 2021, such as Raymond McCarthy Bergeon, the Digital Experience Director at InVision Communications,  and Jim Louderback, GM & SVP at Viacom amongst many others. Our line-up consisted of a mixture of virtual and on-site speakers.

Speakers at SHIFT 2021

Each session aimed to address challenges and opportunities in different functional business areas, such as sales, marketing, recruitment, and community. Each was a masterclass on engagement, growth, and transformation in a new virtual and hybrid world.

Some of the sessions held included:

  • ‘Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workspace’ led by Carter Gibson, Program Lead, Internal Community Management at Google,
  • ‘Maximizing ROI in a virtual world’ led by Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, the Digital Experience Director at InVision Communications
  • ‘Hybrid Events: The Elephant in the Room Looks Different to Everyone that Touches It’ chaired by Carley Siberstein, CEO at Redstone Agency, Robin Raskin, Founder of the Virtual Events Group, Sherry Huss, Co Founder of Maker Faire, Jim Louderback, GM & SVP at Viacom and ROB HILL CEO at Merestone Productions

Thanks to the star-studded lineup and the topics presented,  as well as the ability for attendees to tune in virtually, 75% of those who registered for the event attended it. And the average time spent at the event was an impressive 8 hours!

“I really enjoyed attending SHIFT”, comments Mandvi Jaiswal who tuned into the event from India. “As I work in marketing, it was really interesting to learn from speakers like Raymond Bergeron and Christina Garnett about the opportunities that hybrid and virtual offers, and I also liked the virtual networking session.”

2. Mobile app + in-platform engagement features boosted real-time participation

Thanks to Zuddl’s in-platform tools such as Chats, Pools & Q&A, attendees were able to actively engage in a two-way conversation with speakers on Stages, making conversations authentic and valuable. Virtual attendees were able to access the tools on the platform, while in-person attendees were able to use the same tools via our mobile app so the attendee experience was synchronized. All tools aimed to make each attendee “see” that they were part of the audience, and feel included and valued.

We also used Zuddl’s Gamification feature to encourage attendees to take part in different activities throughout the event venue, such as at Expo Booths. 

The result? Engagement throughout the event was at an all-time high.

  • Across the 6 event sessions, a total of 27 Polls were conducted. Speakers used Polls to gauge the level of knowledge in the room or get instant reactions to points raised during their sessions. 
An example of a Poll shared during the event

  • Because Zuddl’s Q&A tool enabled attendees to ask questions and upvote those submitted by others that they like or want to see answered, we were able to keep energy and interest in the sessions at a high level. To illustrate, here are just a few examples of upvoted questions at SHIFT:
  • How are virtual event platforms going to redefine community building in the future?
  • How do we price an event that is part-live and part-virtual? 
  • What role do you see CRM systems like Hubspot in virtual events?
  • Using Zuddl’s gamification feature to incentivize learning and engagement, we were able to drive engagement levels even higher.  By setting points to different actions, we were able to successfully nudge attendees towards taking part in different activities throughout the entire venue, for instance answering Polls or visiting an Expo Booth (Read more in detail about our gamification feature here).Thanks to this, over 50% of attendees did visit Expo Booths set up by our sponsors and partners and learnt about their products and services. 

3. Best-in-class event production for the live broadcast

Thanks to ETP, our event partner, we were able to livestream a fully produced high-definition broadcast to attendees around the world.

ETP audio and video technicians ensured the best quality by equipping the venue with an LED wall, two broadcast cameras, lighting and sound controls, downstage monitors, and a teleprompting system. The team provided stage management assistance and audio-video control as well, enabling the smooth switching of speakers (live and virtual) and screens during Shift.  The end result was an immersive, high-quality, real-time event experience. 

4. Connecting in-person and virtual attendees

People are social creatures, so we knew it was critical to facilitate interaction between attendees, regardless of whether they were at the venue in Florida or joining the event virtually from India. Zuddl has a variety of features that we used to bridge the offline-online divide, and connect attendees with peers from marketing, sales, people operations, etc.

  • AI-powered Smart Networking  matched attendees based on mutual interests such as ‘Sales’ or ‘Community Building’ for 1:1 video meetings, so that they could make valuable connections and have targeted conversations from the get-go. The average time spent at the networking area was a remarkable 163 minutes.
  • Breakout Rooms in Zuddl serve as spaces where attendees can socialize and chat in small groups. We set up Rooms centered around the event sessions so that attendees who liked specific topics could get together and have deeper conversations. As a consequence, 50% of attendees at  SHIFT 2021 spent time in atleast one Breakout Room.

Key Takeaways

SHIFT 2021 was a path-defining event for hybrid events. 

Attendees were able to learn how to stay ahead of the curve by leveraging the indomitable business opportunities hybrid offers: greater reach, inclusivity, higher participation, and better value. And industry leaders speaking about their experiences with hybrid was instrumental in understanding how it can drive value for different use cases. This combination — a commitment to bringing people together for a larger purpose, and imaginative hybrid methods to achieve a goal — is increasingly important in our tumultuous times.

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“As we emerge on the other side of Covid, it’s clear that hybrid is going to play a pivotal for businesses of all sizes and no matter the industry because of the benefits and convenience they offer. Through SHIFT, Zuddl and ETP are proud to have highlighted the exciting opportunities that hybrid offers, and facilitated indispensable real-world guidance on putting it into play. The need of the hour is for marketing and event leaders to adapt quickly or run the risk of falling behind.”

Bharath Varma
Founder, Zuddl

Entertainment Technology Partners (ETP) is the parent company to a global collection of independent brands in the events and entertainment industry including Event EQ, Pixl, and LMG.


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