Event software specialist CrowdComms marked its 10th anniversary at the end of the summer with an exclusive hybrid event celebration with clients, partners and staff. The CrowdComms’ team looked back over the company’s history; where it’s come from – featuring all three founders – to where it’s going and a whole lot more. The big day featured an insightful panel discussion with some of the event industry’s brightest minds – Steve Quah, Cheerful Twentyfirst, Elisabeth Spry, Global Trade Review, Adam Parry, Event Tech Live & Event Industry News – as well as a client showcase with Haymarket’s Jaylene Stebbens and a special session on ‘maintaining physical and mental wellbeing to optimise performance’ with former skeleton bobsleigh World Champion, Shelley Rudman.
While the event was set at CrowdComms’ UK office in Dorset, due to the company’s innovative hybrid solution, it could have taken place anywhere. A curve of orators’ armchairs at the front of the room, flanked by cameras, screens and CrowdComms’ tech all driving the show, pushing content out far and wide and bringing participants in from across the country and beyond. The afternoon brought everyone together with a resolutely in-person party.
CrowdComms’ quick thinking and unremitting solutions are a product of the now 80+ strong team’s knack for innovation and substantial industry experience, alongside in-depth consultation with partners and end-users.
“We love developing new features and working with clients to make sure we get them as close to right as possible,” Managing Director, Matt Allen, said.
Starting at the finish, Matt, together with product director, Will Custard, rounded out the business end of the day with a look at what’s coming next. Their delivery was packed with information and repartee, highlighting CrowdComms’ strive for invention, as they revealed four exciting new elements to the platform:
Large Event Infrastructure
CrowdComms has been able to duplicate the production architecture that sits behind the channel, which means a client can have their own individually-branded CMS and larger events can run on a separate infrastructure, ramped up in different regions as required.
“It means you’ve got that security, that peace of mind,” Will Custard said. “You’re not necessarily affected by other shows that are happening and if you run 100 shows a year, you can use a single sign-on. It’s a really nice way to offer bigger events a bit more stability.”
Video Management and On-Demand Libraries
This visual extension is arriving very soon, bringing delegates an attractive, easy to use, premium library that takes away the need for a third-party hosting platform. Clients can upload material, manage it within the dashboard and use the content anywhere; company booths, profile pages, the opportunities are limitless.
“We decided to give people a couple of style options; if you’ve got that keynote speech and just one library of videos you can have really nice execution. Alternatively, if you’ve got categorised videos – you might have pre-event learning, you might have last year’s content – you can have a lot more flexibility and control around how you make best use of these,” Will explained.
Desktop and Device Web Apps
Over the last 18-months, people have been calling for rolling platforms to expand usability beyond a single event. Perfect for situations when, for instance, you have a zone for a community, run webinars, want to be able to set up a one-to-one or group meeting or share documents. With this firmly in mind, CrowdComms has been testing and developing its desktop and progressive web apps in order to offer this solution.
“We’re looking after those key people with this feature,” Matt said. “The organisers can focus on one platform that evolves and adapts with them, the speakers can leverage a Zoom integration to make sure they can communicate with their audience and, from a delegate perspective, it’s on your desktop.”
“We think it’s going to be a powerful tool,” Will added. “We’re a brandable platform and this is a really nice extension to that brandability.”
The in-person audience visibly straightened in their seats when the last development was shared: a new-school, cutting edge engagement tool and a means to stop those ‘home alone’ moments when you’re on the virtual end of a hybrid event.
“That fun element, the thing you remember, the thing you take away – that was where we wanted to get to with this product,” Will said. “We know there are other things on the market where you can jump on and off calls but, again, this is about using the flexibility of the CrowdComms’ platform to spin modules up quickly and reuse them, helping certain audiences see different things that are tailored to them.
“Coupled with our livestream expertise, we wanted to make sure you could do a little bit more than just network.”
“Being able to livestream, being able to form an audience again, being able to get together or meet colleagues, if this is an internal tool; awards dinners, sitting with people at tables, moving around sponsored exhibitor rooms,” Matt explained. “It’s a tool we think is going to change the game.”
So CrowdComms has another bunch of boundary-breaking tech steps ready to pour and, reading between the lines, still more in the fermentation process.
This 10th birthday bash, before all the bottles, bubbles and banter, was an exercise in engagement, demonstrated successfully by the wholly engaged audience. An example, if not a lesson, in how to do it, with the more ‘formal’ part of the session properly providing entertainment while still being educational and relaxed.
Callum Di Lieto, the compere, came in from Haymarket – a highly valued CrowdComms’ client for over four years.
Ahead of putting questions to the panel, he set the scene through his own experience of the ‘pivotal’ change brought about by the pandemic. Callum recalled taking part in a nerve-wracking first virtual event, which relied ‘heavily’ on external expertise.
“There was a lot of learning we had to do and CrowdComms is a great company,” Di Lieto said. “The live event shift to virtual is difficult and CrowdComms is very considerate about the delegate journey. Haymarket was an early adopter of tech, which gave us more room to make mistakes and learn from them.
“Working with a platform that’s easy to understand and intuitive means less pressure on the event team. Through virtual events we’ve been able to explore new sectors and we’ve brought the global Haymarket team together.
“So, my advice? Find a platform you can trust! You will rely on them heavily. Get training and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
“The best part of working with CrowdComms is the team,” Di Lieto added. “They’re personable and easy to get on with. They’ve become part of the extended Haymarket family.”
Staying in the leather armchair, middle of the arc, Callum Di Lieto went on to put questions to Steve Quah, CEO at creative agency Cheerful Twentyfirst, Elisabeth Spry, Head of Marketing for Global Trade Review, Event Industry News/Event Tech Live Co-Founder Adam Parry and CrowdComms’ Product Director, Will Custard.
Fittingly, the focus here too was the future. Solutions not problems. Bettering the user experience across the hybrid model, giving great event experience to audiences physically and virtually, as Will put it.
There was a lot more to the panel of course, the weight of experience and opinion-swapping was rife with ideas, inspiration – and, aptly, unwavering confidence in the CrowdComms’ machine.
Discussing what events will look like when we’re truly post-pandemic, the common perception saw providing and adapting content as the crucial element: to tick the traditional engagement box, foster interaction with remote visitors and then to connect the two.
“Be well supported,” Will advised. “Find a team you can really trust. Our job as a platform is to bring the in-person energy to a virtual audience.”
Back to Front
CrowdComms’ 10th birthday started with input from the founders, who were dotted around the room, the country and the world; Peter Hair, Felix Stroud-Allen and Dee Brannick. When asked for their best memory of the business in its first 10 years, tellingly it all centred around the people behind the scenes.
Dee highlighted the transformation of a company that started out delivering apps at conferences to the international impact of CrowdComms in 2021. Felix tipped the team responsible for that transition and Pete praised their ability to pick the right tech and the right people who could deliver that tech.
“I am amazed by my team, top to bottom,” Matt added. “I’m so proud to work with you. You are absolutely fabulous!”
Whether your event is in-person, virtual or hybrid, if you’re looking for the perfect team to take care of your next event for you, book a demo with us today.