02/2021, 5 min read

Sodexo’s annual two-day conference for its senior leaders in the APAC region was turned into a successful virtual event with the support of Elisa Videra's InMeeting Services.

At the end of the year, Sodexo, a global company in food, facilities management, and workplace & technical management services business, gathers its key personnel in the APAC region to participate in a two-day event where the previous financial year is reviewed and new strategies planned. In the most recent event, some key clients also attended to provide their thoughts on the industry in the coming year. 

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a physical meeting turned out to be impossible to arrange. The key people in Singapore, the regional HQ for Sodexo in APAC, put their heads together and started looking for alternatives.
“We soon came to the conclusion that we needed to run the event virtually, rather than in person,” says ChangHui Chew, who handles digital communications at Sodexo APAC and acted as the project manager for the event. “Then again, we wanted the experience to be something beyond a typical conference call, which many of us had got tired of over the past year.”

Arranging a virtual event beyond the typical conference call

Initially, Sodexo’s project team in Singapore started planning and implementing the event on their own. Quite soon, however, it became clear that the company's internal resources were not geared for this specialised project. 

“There was going to be over 220 participants across APAC; some from China, India, the Philippines and Australia, and we also had some participants dialing in from France,” Chew explains. “People would be attending with various network types and devices. The speakers were also going to call from everywhere. So there were several challenges to deal with when it came to connectivity.” 

Add the challenge of furnishing the event with impressive bells and whistles that were needed to engage the participants and ensuring the event would be memorable, the amount of work ahead led the team to an inevitable conclusion. The look for an external partner began.

In Meeting Services – a turn-key service to get more out of virtual events

Patrick Foong, the CIO of Sodexo Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, had experience in working with Elisa Videra country director Serene Gay and consulted her domain knowledge and experience in large and complex events – and the potential pitfalls that come with it. He soon gained confidence that Elisa Videra was the partner of choice to help them arrange the event and choose the right technology for it.

“We soon established a connection with Elisa Videra and got the overall idea on how they would approach the challenge,” Foong recalls. “After a round of negotiations and proposals, we decided to proceed with them.”

The collaboration was based on Elisa Videra's In Meeting Services, a highly customised service that provides the required virtual communication technology for any kind of event. It is especially beneficial in situations where the client wants to arrange something that goes beyond a typical virtual meeting – in this case using Sodexo’s global unified communications solution Microsoft Teams.
“In addition to technology solutions, we provide views on what issues should be addressed in organising these kinds of events,” says Elisa Videra's Head of Solution Sales Eeva Nyberg. “Our experience with various tools and technical support—even ways to present and collect feedback—can both enhance the overall experience and considerably relieve the client's stress.”

A seamless experience created by careful planning, setup and testing

The work began, and both Chew and Foong were immediately impressed. A large room was turned into a studio where the event would be produced and coordinated.

“Large virtual meetings are today produced very much in the same manner and with the same quality as a television show,” Nyberg emphasises. “That sets special requirements on both the venue and issues such as lighting and special effects.”

Hence, a dedicated event producer is required to keep everything under control.

“We had to take into account several issues, from technical requirements to logistics and safety protocols,” Chew points out. “Elisa Videra's team was very helpful in planning the overall layout so that the experience would be smooth, safe and efficient. We were delighted to work with people who were highly professional and knowledgeable.”

“Elisa Videra was able to tell us what kinds of technology and connection were needed, for example,” Foong mentions. “This helped us maximise our resources efficiently.”

The plans were finalised, equipment and technology installed, everything thoroughly tested. The show was ready to begin.

“The overall experience was far above the usual”

A wide variety of skills and competence are essential in ensuring the best possible experience in a virtual event. Sodexo sought a partner that could support them, and they got an excellent outcome in return.

With connectivity always an issue in the most distant locations, some minor latency issues were experienced, but when it comes to on-site arrangements and implementation, everything went as planned. Elisa Videra’s experts stood by throughout the event and ensured that if any unexpected interruptions arose, they could fix the problems as soon as possible.

“I joined the event from home and experienced no problems,” Foong says. “Elisa Videra was very professional throughout the project and showed that they know their stuff. I really want to highlight the flexibility of Elisa Videra as a partner.”

“The feedback we received from the event was positive,” Chew adds. “The overall experience was very engaging and far above the usual webinar that the participants were used to.”
Both Foong and Chew compliment Elisa Videra's ability to address the overall challenge with an open mind and can-do attitude. The flexibility and readiness to change things on the fly are abilities that are always required in setting up an event of this magnitude.

“We could never have achieved this kind of end result on our own,” Chew summarises.

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