ABTA’s Virtual Travel Convention
Each year, ABTA hosts The Travel Convention, a leading event in the travel calendar. In 2020, for the first time, ABTA held the Travel Convention virtually, enabling the travel industry to come together at this crucial moment in history amidst a global pandemic. The Travel Convention ran as a one-day event with content delivered via a virtual event portal, where attendees could access keynote speakers and business sessions alongside a range of specialist workshops and networking opportunities.
Originally, the three-day conference was scheduled to be held in Marrakech with an estimated live audience of 450 people. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, ABTA decided to take their annual convention virtual. Pixl demystified the new world of virtual events, taking the ABTA team through various virtual solutions for the event. ABTA wanted to provide an engaging virtual experience and decided to use Pixl’s Extended Reality (XR) studio at John Henry’s in London, which included an XR stage, three cameras, autocue, XR services, and Mo-Sys tracking. As Extended Reality is an emerging and ever-evolving technical process, workflow examples are not yet abundant and are constantly changing.
Pixl provided ABTA the opportunity to pre-record their content in the studio, which eliminated the pressures typically associated with a live event and provided peace of mind. Over the course of two days, presenters pre-recorded their segments in the XR studio, with the exception of the event’s single remote presenter. Pixl’s Remote Presenter Kit allowed the State Minister for Transport Grant Shapps to present right from home with the equipment and technical support he needed for a successful presentation.
The conference came to life with the help of 11 Pixl technicians, who used Quicklink for remote presenters and MCR to control the event. Hosted on ABTA’s meeting portals, the conference welcomed an audience of approximately 2,000 people, including 50 journalists, exceeding their initial reach of 450 live attendees. Although this was ABTA’s first virtual conference, it was a resounding success, with attendees remarking that they felt as if they were at the actual conference. The XR stage’s professional appealing background enabled the conference to have a high-quality, TV broadcast feel led by Chris Ship, the event’s professional TV moderator.
The key to successful virtual events is to deliver an entertaining experience. “You have to think ‘TV show’ rather than ‘conference.’ It’s about putting together a slick production that is engaging and interesting to watch on a laptop. It has to hold the audience’s interest and make them want to continue to watch,” says Paul Hutton, President, Entertainment Technology Partners European Operations.