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In March 2020, planning was underway for Children and Youth Day (CYD) when COVID-19 hit and forced all arrangements to be suspended.
How was an event that usually hosts almost 50,000 people to take place in these never-before-seen circumstances?
The CYD team, unwavered by COVID-19, quickly recuperated from the shock and promised to deliver an event that is a spectacular celebration of children and youth!
A day to celebrate children and youth?
Yes. That is exactly what Children and Youth Day (CYD) is all about.
Since 1994, CYD has been established in Hawaii as the first Sunday of every October, to celebrate and honor children and youth. It is also a recognition of all the special contributions they make to our community. Since 1997 however, the entire month of October has been dedicated to the celebration of children and youth.
So when plans for the 27th annual CYD were jeopardized due to COVID-19, the planning committee immediately thought of alternative options. One option was to take a break this year, but the other was to go against all odds and explore the virtual arena for this event.
After much deliberation and thorough research on virtual events platform providers, CYD decided to proceed with vFairs. According to Jeff Subee, the Chief Information Officer at Kamaania Kids, they were looking for one key factor when making their decision. In Jeff’s words, they needed “a platform that had everything we were looking for and provided familiar features based on our physical events”.
The other providers CYD came across during their research were unable to offer a holistic platform that incorporated all solutions they were looking for, such as virtual auditoriums and exhibit halls.
Jeff also lauds his dedicated Sales Account Manager, Hisham, here for the ease with which he walked them through the entire process. So vFairs, providing a comprehensive solution meeting all their requirements, was the inevitable choice.
Even though the change in mediums created numerous hurdles in achieving these objectives, vFairs and CYD together made sure that these were ultimately accomplished.
Apart from COVID-19 disrupting CYD’s plans for a physical event, there was one major challenge in store for the team: Difficulty in translating the physical activities of the event into a virtual space. At the physical event a range of activities created an immersive learning experience for the children. Some of which include:
So how would CYD and vFairs translate all these creative activities to the virtual landscape? While keeping in check children’s short attention span.
Let’s see how vFairs delivered a virtual event that checked all the boxes for CYD. To view the event click here.
A colorful lobby that represented the essence of the event in Hawaii was an important consideration. vFairs offered a variety of templates to CYD to choose from, after which the entire setup was customized.
The lobby had to resonate with the attendees. The theme for CYD 2020 was ‘strengthening a sense of belonging’, which was eventually weaved into the design. This was done while ensuring the setup was eye-pleasing and reflected the setting of a family event.
Participants stepped into a virtual 3D animated lobby. As avatars were seen roaming around the lobby, a welcome video greeted the attendees. They could start by watching it and getting into the rhythm of the event. Background music was also added to the lobby that provided a relaxing atmosphere similar to CYD’s physical event.
The exhibit hall hosted a variety of booths. The exhibit hall included well-known companies like McDonald’s, and booths that spread awareness about mental health issues in children. Moreover, NPOs, city and county departments set up booths related to social work, the public library, and even development programs for children. All these organizations had compelling messages that they were aiming to spread.
The only requirement for these booths was that they had to provide video content that was interactive, educational and engaging for the kids. The kids should remain on the site, immersed in these various activities. The setup also had to be user-friendly for it to appeal to the kids. For instance, a booth set up by Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America added puzzles and experiments to keep the kids engaged.
There were live audio, video and text chat options in the exhibit booths, along with links to the exhibitor’s websites and social media pages.
These booths even featured additional resources such as entertaining videos and some helpful documents. For example, McDonald’s had videos on Ronald McDonald’s Dream Hawaii Vacation or even his workout. These resources could be added to their ‘swag bags’ and downloaded later.
One challenge identified by the CYD team was the short attention span of kids. Activities had to be really engaging for them to not lose interest. Along with this they had to make sure kids visited every aspect of the virtual space. To serve this purpose a scavenger hunt was designed that ensured kids explored every nook and corner of the virtual event space to hunt down the images scattered across the platform.
In addition to the scavenger hunt, there was also a leaderboard that gave points whenever participants visited a specific area of the online event. For instance, going to the sponsor booth would earn the participant 100 points. Whoever accumulated the most points would get a chance to win a prize.
Both these gamification elements resulted in increased participation.
The virtual auditorium hosted a number of on-demand and live sessions. Both the on-demand and live sessions featured dancers, singers, and comedians who put on exceptional performances. These helped them succeed in their objective to provide tremendous amounts of entertainment to the participants.
There were additional videos available in the video vault that again featured content that would keep the participants occupied on the event site for longer. Videos about camping, preschool in a pandemic, storytime and easy cooking recipes were available to keep both children and parents entertained.
Documents included coloring books, pre-school information, fun facts, Halloween treats and decorations, again with the sole purpose of keeping kids involved in the virtual event.
Both videos and documents provided a lot of valuable content for children and parents alike. These could be added to their ‘swag bag’ and easily downloaded later.
Previously this event was only marketed on one of the seven islands of Hawaii as people from that one island were in high attendance. But this virtual platform has opened new doors and possibilities for future events. With the virtual aspect, people not just from the islands of Hawaii, but from the rest of the world could attend.
CYD is considering moving to hybrid events next year, so they can continue reaching people from all over the world. They are even excited about marketing via Facebook and extending their reach, making the event more effective.
CYD went all-in with zero expectations but was extremely happy with the outcomes. They found virtual events to be hassle-free. With the physical events, they had about 3000 volunteers. They had to spend on food and other arrangements. However, the virtual event emancipates them from these types of investments and allows them to cut costs.
They highly appreciated vFairs and their assigned Project Manager, Muhammad Bilal Shahid. They were happy with the support they received, and how efficiently he corresponded with them; “He was helpful in getting us up to speed” recounted Jeff. vFairs also presented everything in a simple manner that was understandable and translated well in what CYD was looking for and was used to!
vFairs has many!
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