December 8, 2021


The travel folks

Climbing Hybrid Mountain: Lessons learnt from staging WiT Experience Week

9 min read

Just just before Yr 2000 kicked in I had the insane concept that I required to mark the decade’s end on best of South-east Asia’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, East Malaysia. I called my very best friend, residing in Hong Kong at the time, and proposed the concept. Even crazier than I am, she stated sure.

We had no
concept what we ended up in for. We went, thinking it was a walk in the park. We ended up
so unprepared – standard sports activities footwear, backyard garden gloves, plastic raincoat, no
spare just about anything – even carried a 1kg cake up the mountain to rejoice. That was
all we cared about – the end issue, the celebration.

This memory came back again to me though we ended up preparing and scheduling for our hybrid working day of WiT Practical experience Week. We did not know what we ended up in for, we only cared about the end issue, the celebration.

We had gotten the formal go-ahead from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) 3 months prior to October one and on September 11, we declared that we would be the first journey pilot hybrid event in Singapore, as very well as inside the Northstar Vacation Team.

There was obviously a ton of stress to produce, and an equivalent quantity of panic mainly because none of us in our crew had ever performed it just before. We had operate WiT Singapore as a actual physical meeting for fifteen several years, and even although each individual yr is unique and the stakes bigger there ended up procedures in position, issues we realized we could hope and even if the unexpected took place, we realized we could handle them.

This was a
completely new planet.

We had performed virtual gatherings just before – 30 considering that March – and we had experimented with a six-hour virtual event on June 24 which, regardless of everybody telling us it wouldn’t operate, did, in phrases of functions and customer opinions. But this was bigger stakes – our tentpole event – and in the hybrid planet we had to blend a actual physical planet with virtual.

On best of
that, we had to abide by rigorous guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Wellness –
no a lot more than fifty delegates, only cohorts of 20 permitted to mingle, contactless
registration, social distancing, masks on at all periods when seated and speakers
can eliminate masks only on stage.

To produce, we stitched with each other a partnership between venue (Marina Bay Sands) and a person main tech husband or wife, World-wide.Signin, to use their tech system, GEVME, who then brought in two other tech startups, Jublia and Pigeonhole Reside, to combine small business matching and interactivity into the system.

Below are the important understanding factors.

Throw out the old procedures, start with a blank canvas

We had to toss out the old rule reserve. At the time of scheduling all-around July/August we had discounted the concept of just about anything actual physical. What worked bodily – a full 3-working day event – would not translate pretty much. So we took out a blank canvas and requested, what about … We flattened it over four times – 3 several hours for the first 3 times, and six several hours for the final working day. We reckoned shoppers could handle that load, as could we.

Occasion design is even a lot more significant in virtual – making an experience vs a series of webinars

As soon as we had
decided on the format, we assumed of the experience we required to produce. One particular
of the biggest troubles of virtual gatherings is for the customer to really feel they
are component of a meeting experience continue to and not just attending a series of
webinars stitched with each other. We required the customer, from Day one to Day 4, to
really feel linked to the singular concept, to connect the stories unfolding each individual working day
so that they are invested in the concept from beginning to end, a lot like
viewing a tv series.

Our old habit
of pinning our gatherings all-around themes and storyboarding and storytelling came in
specially helpful. We storyboarded our concept “Travel Zero.O” all-around the motion picture
“Back To The Future”.

The “time travel” machine permitted us to tie the four episodes with each other – Rewind, Reboot, Rebuild and Rewrite – and enabled us to connect the previous, present and long term. We invited our shoppers to hop on to our “time travel” machine from Episode one and be a part of our trip into the long term, ending with Episode 4.

Ready to take the four-step shuffle with WiT? from World-wide-web in Vacation on Vimeo.

Continue to keep the familiar inside the unfamiliar, co-create a long lasting memory

The creation of the collaborative piece of art “Travel 2025”.

In the new, peculiar planet we ended up navigating it’s significant to preserve a sense of familiarity – what’s the a person factor your shoppers recall you for? Individuals are longing for emotional connections in a bodily disconnected planet.

One particular of WiT’s
familiar themes is our yearly WiT For Superior charity auction in which we raise
funds for the betterment of gals and children in Asia. Considering that 2005, we have
elevated a lot more than US$500,000 in these initiatives and we did not want this to be
sacrificed at the altar of Covid.

We showed our audience a “Blank Canvas” on Day one and we invited them to co-create a piece of art with us, by visualising the long term of journey. We requested them to give us words and phrases to explain “Travel 2025” and, at the closing of Day 4, we unveiled the actual physical piece of art that was auctioned off for charity.

WiT For Superior Art Auction: Carry back again the familiar and create a actual physical memory

Not only did it create a long lasting actual physical memory of a historic event but it permitted everybody to create anything with each other – symbolising the spirit of collaboration that has been the hallmark of Covid-19. In our submit-event study, this art piece was singled out as a emphasize of the event.

In tech, do not rely on in men and women, you rely on

Count on the
tech to are unsuccessful but make confident your groups operating to produce the tech do not – that
they are thoroughly fully commited towards the exact result, and will do whichever it
usually takes to reach that.

This was the toughest bit – placing with each other the tech system to produce on our visualisation. One particular tip is to start with the experience you want, then operate out the tech necessary to produce on it, not the other way round. Engineering must empower, not inhibit.

We located a
tech husband or wife in GlobalSign.In with its GEVME system. We sat down with the
crew to demonstrate what we required – material flow, small business matching, sponsors’
lounges, interactivity and location experiences – that it has to really feel like a
WiT experience. How do we sew it all with each other? For small business matching and
interactivity capabilities, we brought in two other tech startups – Jublia and
Pigeonhole Reside – to combine with GEVME.

techies will inform you this is a recipe for catastrophe – stitching with each other a
created-for-WiT system in 3 months. Of course, there was in fact plenty of discomfort – all
of us ended up undertaking it for the first time – but plenty of attain way too in the end. There
ended up glitches – we broke the tech on Day 2 – but what was significant was, we pushed
via and sent as a crew.

What could
have been performed superior? One particular, really don’t try to do way too a lot. We did. Two, really don’t
over-complicate the agenda. Tech is not bamboo, it does not bend. Three, most
significant, have that large-level meeting at the incredibly start, entail everybody
from all groups – products, tech, functions – so that everybody has their eye on
the result.

Communication is the difference between everyday living and demise. It is not sufficient to have the bosses agree that this can be performed, each individual crew member need to want to do it, and can do it. A strong interesting-headed challenge manager who can talk across various disciplines is vital. Match that with a crew ready to find out and take hazards and you can reach pretty much just about anything. 

Piecing with each other the venue and location experience

Other than acquiring like-minded partners in tech we necessary the appropriate partners to produce the hybrid event, and Marina Bay Sands’ Hybrid Broadcasting Studio was the fantastic healthy. MBS had been home to WiT for the very last eight several years and it felt appropriate, pretty much sentimental, to return. We hammered out a partnership in report time, and executed in unison on the tech as very well as security protocol underneath rigorous guidelines from the STB.

Driving the
scenes, 3 groups worked in tandem – our crew overseeing the programme flow, contacting
the exhibit and lining up speakers GEVME operating the tech system, cuing
virtual speakers on and dealing with the streaming and Marina Bay Sands’ tech crew
dealing with the production and recording.

To produce the location experiences we partnered with Klook, which set with each other two virtual excursions. We also partnered with community tour gurus – foodie Karni Tomer for her cooking course and XMC Practical experience for its Feng Shui at Marina Bay Sands excursions. To round it off, DJ One particular With Aldrin hosted a dance social gathering. We required to exhibit that you can continue to experience a location, plus the location is what anchors an event in the minds of delegates. It is what gives WiT identity, and identity is vital in a virtual planet.

• One particular event, a person audience

You have to consider of the audience as a person entity to be engaged with, no matter of platforms. You have to preserve thinking of how to connect the virtual audience and the actual physical audience into a person experience. There are several tools inside the tech system – polls, Q&A, chat – to do this, but you require the human touch – some tricks and skills – to convey them with each other. That you have to find out on the fly.

The human component – face-to-face continue to issues, but pack it with which means

Having been
immersed in the virtual planet for so several months, I myself was skeptical about
the necessity of acquiring a actual physical event. The obligation of health and
security also weighed seriously on my team’s brain. We ended up also unsure of our
customers’ appetite for actual physical interaction – right after all, several of us had been
operating and residing underneath some type of constraints and how relaxed would
they be mingling with other people, even if it was only forty men and women in controlled

On the other hand,
when STB available us the option and support to stage a protected event, we
did not wait. As quickly as we could operate out the economics – which we did
via a partnership product – we went for it. As did our partners.

exhilaration and emotion of those people attending the actual physical event at Marina Bay
Sands was palpable from the start. It was obvious men and women had skipped staying with men and women.
Eventually, they had the actual physical watering gap to quench their thirst for human
interaction. The strength of staying on a actual physical stage in front of actual physical
attendees is uplifting, not draining as it is speaking to a screen.

That working day
persuaded me that actual physical gatherings will be back again in full power, when permitted. You
are unable to maintain back again the tide of human motivation. But that doesn’t signify we must go
back again to the bad old ways of undertaking issues. We will emerge into a planet the place shoppers
have learnt to hope a lot more from us, and we need to produce over and above that.

I seem
ahead to a long term of gatherings with much less waste, thoughtful material, entertaining
storytelling, deeper which means and bigger intent and, of training course, profitability
for all who aim to do superior.

Closing lesson: Back again to the hike up Mount Kinabalu – ignorance is bliss. Not knowing what you are in for but acquiring a obvious visualisation of the result – that celebration with the cake – held us heading. It was a equivalent visualisation of the result – delighted shoppers – that held my crew heading on the climb to the best of Hybrid Mountain. Now we giggle at the heart-stopping moments.

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