​It’s no surprise that our industry quickly turned to the world of virtual events in order to survive 2020 — especially here in Melbourne, where we endured the longest lockdown in the country.

For producers like JTPM, online events presented an opportunity to thrive through the adversity, with a lot of learning and development that happened along the way. But as workers slowly return to the office and venues reopen — will online events remain as relevant and popular or has screen-fatigue finally settled in?

The zoom boom

We can’t deny the benefits of online events — connecting people on a national and global scale opened doors and created more opportunities for organisations, with relative ease and at a fraction of the cost. Many of the old barriers simply fell away and suddenly we were doing just about everything online!

Yet, it was hardly the ideal scenario, with regular interruptions from kids, pets, poor internet connections and the dreaded ‘mute’ button. Not to mention the initial novelty of Zoom meetings quickly wearing off. There’s nothing quite like the tangible, interpersonal experience you can only get from real life interactions.

Going hybrid

When the threat of the pandemic began to ease, we saw hybrid events become our new hero — providing event guests with the option to participate either online, in person or a combination of both, depending on their location and situation.

Hybrid events appeared to tick all the boxes — offering the best of both worlds, but from a production and planning perspective its the equivalent of running two events alongside one another!

Beyond the chat-room abyss…

During lockdown, we saw an opportunity to not only develop and trial our own unique way of producing virtual events, but also support our community at a time when morale and motivation was at its lowest. We looked past the ready-made online meeting platforms and created our own digital event space.

‘Couch Community’ became a virtual place for the JTPM team, clients and broader community to connect, interact and be entertained. We curated and produced a series of fun and interactive online events — from hilarious ‘Chef vs Comedian’ mash up’s to soothing and inspiring ‘Wellness for your Wellbeing’ self-development sessions.

Feedback about Couch Community was positively glowing and encouraged us to keep pushing the boundaries and developing creative online event solutions throughout 2020. As a result, we’ve been able to competently and successfully pitch our concepts to clients, and the digital arm of our business has grown significantly — with one event quickly leading to the next.

We’ve since delivered a number of outstanding online and hybrid events including:

Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence — for the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Usually held at Government House, the 2020 ceremony was broadcast online and on TV (a first for JTPM), and has been nominated for Best Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Program at the 2021 Antenna Awards!

Hanging Local Virtual: Chef vs Student — for Western Melbourne Tourism and Victoria University. We produced and streamed a series of cooking challenges, hosted by comedians and popular local chefs to help keep students connected.

National Particle Therapy Symposium — for the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre. We brought together prominent speakers from Australia, Singapore, Vienna and Germany in an interactive virtual platform to participate in robust and engaging discussions during the two-day symposium.

So what’s the verdict?

Online events are not a passing COVID-fad, at least not yet. With many still affected by the pandemic, online events remain extremely important in connecting people. But we won’t settle for the stock standard online approach at JTPM, and neither should you!

Even as the pandemic eases, we may find that some clients will continue to incorporate online interaction into their events and others may not return to physical events at all. So, for now, online events are here to stay and we’ll keep working on innovative ways to deliver memorable experiences and look forward to see what the future of online events will bring.

JT. Production Management: https://www.jtproductionmanagement.com/

JT. Production Management provides services in producing, developing and managing of corporate, theatre and special events.