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The events industry has been forced to adapt and remodel itself in the wake of the pandemic. Providers have been forced to reimagine their means of delivery and those who have turned to virtual events as an alternative have been pleased with the results. One success story came in the form of Blue Dot’s virtual celebration of Sonoma County - a beautiful area in northern California and a prominent wine making region.
Hosted at the tail end of November last year, the event offered the opportunity for Blue Dot to showcase and spotlight local wine makers, connoisseurs and their processes. Blue Dot connected Vinters from around Sonoma County offering them the opportunity to share their expertise to both an in-person audience in Quebec and a global audience online. An interactive conversation with author and columnist Nadia Fournier offered participants the chance to learn about the various organic, biodynamic and sustainable practices Sonoma County wineries implement.
This was the first time that Blue Dot had utilised virtual event technology and they were impressed with the results having been encouraged by feedback and the use of a hybrid events model. Blue Dot operations director Alexandra Boake reflects on the experience.
“We definitely had to look at the event differently. You have to work harder at engaging your audience when they are not in the same space as you but I loved it. I was so pleased to offer my industry an alternative to in person events. The feedback was very positive and I can see this model continue way past forced social distancing.”
Blue Dot were keen to ensure that there was a direct and interactive element by which online attendees could interact with the speakers and panelists as part of the programme. This was achieved through the use of a networking room in which both Nadia Fournier and Jasmine Hirsch, a winemaker and manager at Hirsch Vineyards, were available for Q&A and discussion.
The success of this networking room and the engagement was surprising to Alexandra.
“I was using Zoom for meetings and to host talks. This was by far a superior experience. The main takeaway for me was how productive a virtual event can be. If done right you can provide attendees with an enriching experience.”
Every event hosted, be that in person or online, offers the opportunity for providers to learn how to better enhance their offering. Hosting a virtual event comes with its own set of challenges and Alexandra considers lessons learnt as she plans for the next edition.
“I would have spent more time hyping up the networking room and I would like to find a way to make sure all that registered for the event showed up. I get the sense that certain commitments aren't taken as seriously when virtual.”
These are valuable reflections and offer insight into possible enhancements and progression for both events providers and virtual event platforms like Eventcube.
Virtual events have previously been seen as difficult to deliver and unattainable for providers and brands who value personal connection and interaction with attendees. However, the success of Blue Dots virtual Sonoma County Vintners experience demonstrates the potential of the technology and a hybrid events model in the future.
“We intend to focus on offering this hybrid model to our clients moving forward, the wine and spirit industry will greatly benefit from this alternative to travel.” - Alexandra Boake
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