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How We Grew an Events Business During COVID-19




How We Grew an Events Business During COVID-19

When the pandemic struck, we guided our conference client in to the digital media space, and grew revenue and bottom line along with it.

As the pandemic began to force the cancelation of live events, organizations and businesses that relied solely on in person engagement began to look for options. Of primary concern for the whole industry was how to weather a storm that, at the time, had no definite duration whilst also continuing to support and pay their staff and teams.

In March 2020, Modev had already engaged Hammerton Barca to produce an activation at SxSW for Google Assistant, its largest client in a portfolio of events focused on the b2b voice tech and AI space.

With the cancellation of SxSW, Modev set Hammerton Barca a new challenge: evolve the business to help it survive. The brief assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic would roll on for many years, and consequently make live events unviable for the foreseeable future.

Working closely with the management team, we quickly assessed the market and made three core judgements:

  • The uncertainty of the pandemic, the infancy of safety protocols, and the important need to keep people safe, meant that in-person productions were not viable on any level at the outset

  • Although serious, the pandemic would likely come to an end in the future and live events would resume at least on some level. Investing heavily in platforms and technology to facilitate virtual events without understanding how they would mesh back together with in-person events further down the line presented a significant business risk

  • Despite the industry pivoting to virtual events, the business model would be tough - particularly around attendance fees. Additionally, our experience told us that translating live events wholesale in terms of content and format to video did not necessarily produce the most engaging results or get the greatest ROI for sponsors.

  • Working with those assumptions and with the support of the Modev team, we envisaged not a switch or a pivot, but an evolution into digital content production, with live events eventually able to back into this new mode of output. 

Practically, once this strategy was agreed, we helped conceive and pitch a monthly voice technology show for YouTube called VOICE Talks to Google Assistant. Google immediately confirmed their support for a three-episode pilot as exclusive title sponsors. From here, it fell to Hammerton Barca to set about planning and producing the show and working with Sofia Altuna from the Google Assistant partnerships team who had been engaged as a host.

Within 6 weeks, Hammerton Barca had recruited a freelance production team, devised marketing strategy to build subscriptions, and built the episode content with Google through twice weekly team scrums with the key stakeholders.

Over the next three months, the three episodes of the pilot series rolled out to YouTube live. Working within the constraints of the pandemic, Hammerton Barca implemented IP broadcast technology from the esports and streaming world and leveraged the 4K capture capability of modern mobile devices, to facilitate high quality live broadcast and pre-records without a single member of crew or piece of broadcast equipment on site.

The result was a high end, content rich YouTube Live experience that looked a world away from virtual events. At the end of the pilot series, the show had gained more than 30,000 subscribers and thousands of hours of user views. Perhaps most importantly, Google renewed their commitment as exclusive title sponsor to the end of 2021 covering a further 17 episodes.

From the success of VOICE talks, and the speed at which Modev was gaining a reputation as a digital content producer of note in the tech space, other avenues and opportunities arose.

With Hammerton Barca behind them, working in the background to actively manage the day to day business operations across the company, Modev took on more large projects with a focus on building its IP; an element that Hammerton Barca specialize in.

Between March 2020 and the end of 2021, under the business operations leadership and bolt on capabilities of Hammerton Barca, Modev’s brand new endeavours included:

  • Production and creative design partner for the global Google Assistant Developer Day virtual event

  • Launch of a new digital media property on the model of VOICE Talks. CLOUD Talks is targeted at the cloud technology developer ecosystem with a focus on partner implementation case studies

  • Consulting and video production for the Long Beach Live Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Creation of the Modev Premiere brand offering a platform for partners to launch new technology products and announce user data results backed by a new research capability within the Modev team. Customers in 2020 included Reuters and OpsMX.

Despite all the overhwelming challenges, and against the trend of almost universal downturn within the industry in 2020; with the support of Hammerton Barca, Modev grew both overall revenue and bottom-line operating profit.

In 2021, it is well positioned to scale using the digital media models that were developed during the pandemic, and ultimately embrace what our friends at AMR International have dubbed 'events 2.0' - with media, content, events, and learning driving a 24/7 operation to serve and grow the community.

Get in touch with us or visit our case studies page to learn more about how we can help diversify your revenue streams and add new lines of business in the events and media space.

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