Live Hivefest 2019, to virtual “Hivefest 2020” – this is how


A practical example of how you can make your global conference work virtually.  

It may be slow, but it’s steady and it’s happening. Brands and agencies are starting to make magic once more, and we couldn’t be happier. Just take a look at our last article, “Brands are back” for a few fab examples.  

Yes, it’s time to get back on that horse, but for those used to workforces focused on connecting people through live events, activations, conferences, summits, expos, and well, any form of gathering really, you may be asking yourself, ‘how?’.

Well, the rule book has well and truly been thrown out of the window, the comfort zones have all but gone, and now we get to re-engage with people in a whole new way. And one could argue the new way is the smarter, undoubtedly more innovative way. Perhaps even the right way as we say ‘goodbye’ to expensive travel, accommodation, catering costs and the like thereof (and all those nasty carbon emissions with them). And ‘hello more cost effective, interactive, engaging and nimble virtual events.  

There are loads of opinion pieces covering the endless options of platforms and tech that can be used to continue to connect people within the new parameters of social distancing. We know, we’ve covered a few too, take a look here. But knowing your tech and platform options isn’t all that helpful if you aren’t able to ‘see’ how YOUR event or activation can be reimagined in this new world.

So, let’s step back from the theoretical, and look at the actual using a case study of a global conference we worked on with Hive, one of the UK’s favourite smart home providers. 

Because produced Hivefest in 2019, a large scale internal conference to engage Hive employees. It was a conference unlike any other – housed at a trendy urban warehouse, complete with Ted-style talks and street food vendors, ending with an epic music concert.  

The purpose, as is commonly the case with these events, was to update staff on business objectives, inspire and create, entertain and delight, and reward and recognise valued employees. It was a perfect mix of employee engagement using innovative and immersive elements. 

Now let’s break the live event down, and see how we could bring the same conference to life virtually in our current environment.*   


1. The plenary

Hivefest (apart from the breakouts) was a linear event i.e. one speaker at a time, with an audience that watched one presenter after the other. With this in mind, the best solution to bring this style of live event to the virtual world, is to do a live broadcast. This effectively is like a TV show with multi cameras and a switcher, a director and a live MC. It’s delivered to viewers live, or as if live.   

For these main content pieces, live is definitely the best way forward. We are humans who want to feel connected and be part of something that is happening in the NOW. Some pre-recorded content is fine – but the main plenary and addresses should be live. 

Whilst a more elaborate live-broadcast style would suit Hivefest, it may not be right for your event. If your preference is to do something simpler, at the very least ensure you use higher-level audiovisual gear such as a ring light, a high-quality webcam, and a microphone.   

2. Breakouts & team building

Hivefest had breakout sessions for the employees to meet new clients and partners that had come on board with their smart home offering. We can do this in our virtual Hivefest too. 

Most webcasting can host virtual breakouts (complete with whiteboards if they’re needed). So, you can still do your workshops, new partnership intros, team quizzes and kick-off sessions, they’ll just be virtual. You can even incorporate an event app for gamifying sessions, with options to play, feedback and participate. This will help increase engagement. 

3. Evening concert

The letyourhairdown, and reward and recognition piece of Hivefest was an awesome music concert, so why shouldn’t it be for our virtual conference too? 

Currently DJs, musicians, artists etc. are all delivering amazing content and live, at-home concerts. And as we move through different levels of lockdown, more entertainment options will become available. But a live, bespoke private ‘concert’ for you and your team by an incredible act, despite being virtual, can be pretty special. 

4. Catering

People, by nature, will ALWAYS remember the food! The amazing food trucks and bars were a key part of the Hivefest – attendees loved them.    

To mimic the experience, why not send out physical DM packs to all ‘guests’ the day before your event. Surprise and delight with snacks, treats, and maybe even some drinks for the concert. These can be opened throughout the day at designated times to introduce some excitement and increase engagement! It’ll also help extend the connection beyond the screen. 

5. Delivery

When we put on Hivefest, delivery and execution, like any live event we do, was everything. And it would be no different for  Hivefest 2020”, so keep that in mind for your virtual event 

Hire an experienced agency (any award-winning agency spring to mind 😉) to produce your event for you. Let them source and coach the necessary talent, script the content and create stand-out graphics and transitions. They can also ensure the tech is working and the stream isn’t interrupted. The event may be virtual, but you still want to blow your guests away!  

These are just some topline examples of how your traditional live event can become a successful virtual one.  

But every event is different, as are every brands’ needs, so not everything we’ve covered here will work for you. Just know that there is always a way, and we can help you find it.  

Yes, traditional live events like Hivefest were awesome, but there are virtually no limits when it comes to virtual events. The only real limit is one’s imagination. And it’s for this reason that thinking about “Hivefest 2.0” makes me do flick flacks inside. It gives us the opportunity to flex our creative muscles and push boundaries. The possibilities are really endless, and that, in itself, is tremendously exciting.   

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Author bio


I'm an award-winning radio marketer and event producer having created some of the largest events and activations for the biggest brands in New Zealand. I'm passionate about brands engaging with their consumers and stakeholders through magical experiences, with seamless delivery.