Navigating Lockdowns Mid-Event: What you can learn from this last minute pivot to virtual

August 15, 2021
Encore Research

An unexpected lockdown during a multi-day event is the new nightmare keeping event planners up at night. So when this situation arises during your event, what should you do? That was the dilemma the team at Hanson Australia were faced with when a sudden COVID outbreak caused a state-wide lockdown during their 5-day event in late May.

Fortunately, Hanson Australia had chosen to partner with Encore to deliver the event for 120 team members at the picturesque Novotel Barossa Valley Resort. Encore’s end-to-end event production solution made them the preferred choice and were able to deliver not only all the in-person events, but had the technical solution and resources to take it online when the time came.

The purpose of the event was to provide information briefing, training and leadership building for the large construction and building materials company.

The event brief to Encore underwent many rounds and revisions and with only two weeks to go progressed significantly in size, requirements and technical support which Encore was able to fulfil. The end result was delivering all the AV, styling and general event production for a four day conference, a Barossa-inspired welcome function, glamorous gala dinner and a final Hollywood themed quiz night.

With the snap lockdown commencing midnight Thursday 27th May, all Victorian-based delegates were forced to depart the event early meaning they would miss the final conference days, gala dinner and closing quiz night. Rather than letting these delegates miss the important content and event experience, Encore jumped into action to deliver a virtual stream of the events.

This meant more people power and equipment were required to deliver the live stream including additional lighting in the marquee so virtual attendees could clearly see speakers’ faces as well as special camera equipment to capture it all.

The event was a perfect example of the benefits of partnering with a company that provides an end-to-end solution with the ability to go hybrid at the drop of a hat to mitigate any unexpected changes.  Our dedicated team worked hand in hand with the venue to realise Hanson Australia’s vision – working with them from the very beginning, when they had very little idea of what they wanted right through to many last minute changes in styling, technical and overarching event design. 

More details on styling

Native Floral Bouquet

The Welcome cocktail function was hosted in a clear marquee on the hotel’s front lawns and was tastefully styled to suit the iconic region. Brown burlap table cloths and runners were teamed with timber bentwood chairs and native rustic burgundy inspired fresh floral centrepieces. The marquee was lit up with overhead festoon lighting and warm ambient gold up-lights around the marquee.

The following evening guests were treated to a glamorous gala dinner in the marquee with surfing legend, Layne Beachely as the guest speaker. The marquee was dressed with soft gold clothed rounded tables, white chiavari chairs, gold charger plates, abundance of ambient tea light candles and fresh native floral centrepieces. Soft purple lighting was flushed up the pillars of the marquee which complimented the gorgeous gold sparkling chandeliers in the ceiling of the marquee.

After another day of conferencing, Encore’s team raced against the clock to completely transform the room into a glitzy Hollywood styled quiz night in less than two hours. Whilst the in-room delegates enjoyed a gourmet sit-down dinner with karaoke, the virtual guests were invited to dine at home and partake in the virtual games. With all guests dressing up for the event, it was the perfect ending to an exciting and vibrant week in the Barossa Valley.

Hollywood Event Styling

Key Takeaways:

  • Safeguard your event from the outset by using a hybrid event model – where guests can either attend in person or online. This means no matter what gets thrown your way your event will continue with an online version for those who couldn’t make it in-person.
  • If you’re not interested in going hybrid, ensure you speak to your production partner or venue to see what virtual solutions they have, in case the need ever arises for you to live stream all or part of the event.
  • Full Service vs Self-Service – when considering the online component of the event, it’s important to determine whether you want an experienced production partner to run the live stream, or you are comfortable doing it yourself via Zoom or Microsoft Teams etc. We’ve all been there when technology fails, so we highly recommend leaving it in the hands of the experts who’ll have the contingencies you need.