The Analytics Institute of Ireland brought their annual award ceremony online for the first time and live streamed it from The Convention Centre Dublin to an audience of over 1,500.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a major challenge to the events industry, with many clients and businesses across the world cancelling, re-scheduling, or choosing alternative options such as digital or hybrid style events. The Analytics & AI Awards take place each year, recognising great work by individuals, teams and organisations in the analytics sector. When the Irish government introduced restrictions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Analytics Institute had to cancel their planned event at the Westin Hotel. The client required an engaging alternative to a live event that would capture and hold the audience’s attention, so they approached The Convention Centre Dublin (The CCD) for assistance and guidance. The team at The CCD came together and proposed the solution of a streamed pre-recorded digital awards show in place of a live event.
Travel and gathering restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that international conferences and events could not take place at this time. Digital and hybrid options ensure events and conferences can continue to cross international borders. Although The CCD has streamed many events such as conferences and ceremonies, the Analytics & AI Awards 2020 was The CCD’s first fully digital event. The Analytics & AI Awards went live on 17 September, presented by Lorcan Malone, Chief Executive of the Analytics Institute of Ireland and Irish television presenter, Sile Seoige, along with many representatives from sponsors such as AIB, PWC and Accenture.
As the client’s scheduled event was cancelled, there was a very short lead time for planning. With only three weeks to pull it off, the planning of a digital event required a different approach to a normal event. The team at The CCD created a show flow, arranging who would be speaking and when, with the Head of Technical Operations critiquing the flow to ensure it worked. To increase engagement throughout the show, the team introduced the idea of a Q&A interview for the client midway through, to break up the awards.
Prior to filming taking place, health and safety measures and procedures, including social distancing and room sanitisation, were implemented to ensure everyone’s safety. Measures at the time included a limit of no more than six people from three different households in any one room, which proved a challenge when filming. To overcome this challenge and adhere with measures, the Technical team recorded and monitored the filming from an adjacent room and remotely ran the show. To control the communications between the split rooms, radios were used to communicate between the team and client.
Recording of the awards took a full day. Liffey B was transformed into a black room to enable most award winners to dial in remotely. All nominees were provided with a Zoom link and dialled in at their allotted time. Once each award was read aloud, the presenter went live to the winner. As this was not pre-recorded, it allowed the audience to be part of the event and witness the real reactions from the winners, as they would at a typical awards ceremony. To ensure poor Wi-Fi connections wouldn’t hamper the experience, the Technical and IT teams tested the nominees’ connections before the live recording.
Some of the sponsors and winners were also invited to speak at the venue for the awards recording. For this to safely happen, the Events team managed the flow of speakers and sponsor representatives into the building on the day of filming. To adhere to social distancing measures and restrictions in place, the Events team ensured minimal people were in the building and speakers were kept apart by scheduling staggered arrival and departure times. All speakers were pre-screened before they arrived and were greeted at the front entrance door of The CCD. They were then brought to the room at their pre-arranged time slot. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, the Technical team sanitised hands and wore masks and gloves when attaching microphones to speakers.
The awards were filmed a week prior to the scheduled live date with editing of the footage taking place the following week. The CCD provided all footage and on-screen animations and graphics for the awards.
The CCD’s first fully digital event was a great success. Both the Technical and Events team worked with the client to deliver a safe and alternative solution by hosting a different type of event. The digital Analytics & AI Awards event was a big production, with a different type of planning involved, but it also allowed the team to showcase their experience and expertise in delivering any type of event, whether it be an in-person, digital or hybrid event.
The original event was due to accommodate 450 delegates, but by going online the client was able to reach a much larger audience. The results of the streaming showed that over 1,500 watched live on the day, with more viewing the event in the following days. This digital event helped underline the Analytics Institute of Ireland as a leader in their industry.
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