A novel solution to a real-world problem helps Kinetic IT connect with its crew, thanks to virtual workspace and events platform Gather and affiliate Meetingland.
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions affecting events across Australia, Kinetic IT sought out an innovative, virtual solution to support engagement, and provide a similar experience to in-person events for its crew.
Working with Gather affiliate Meetingland, a bespoke virtual tropical island was created to host New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory-based Kinetic IT crew to celebrate success and foster connection.
With feedback showing high satisfaction levels, crew success can continue to be recognised and celebrated in hybrid environments, no matter their location.
At Kinetic IT, we work to ensure our crew feel valued and that success is celebrated when it comes to delivering services to our customers across Australia.
When working to lock in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales (NSW) end of year get togethers for 2021, the decision was made to postpone the event until the new year due to COVID-19. It was a chaotic time as Australia’s hospitality industry grappled with pandemic restrictions, hampering its ability to provide venues and services for hundreds of thousands of customers, including Kinetic IT.
Kinetic IT’s Events Manager, Jo Kirby, says physical distancing requirements were not the only restriction on event planning. “Following extended lockdowns, where the hospitality industry was unable to operate, there were very few venues able to even consider bookings. There were also significant waiting list times for anyone wanting to book a venue.
“It’s really important that our crew can come together to celebrate success, hangout and generally enjoy themselves at KIT events. Our end of year get togethers are highlights on the KIT calendar so we were disappointed we couldn’t do this for all our crew. That’s why myself and Ashlyn Crowe, our Events Coordinator, got to work to investigate how we could still put on a special night for our ACT and NSW crew in a COVID-safe and engaging way.”
During her research, Jo stumbled upon a website called Gather and its affiliate, Meetingland.de. Centred around fully customisable virtual spaces, Gather is an online service that makes spending time with your colleagues, loved ones and friends just as easy as real life. And, as a technology solution to real-world problems, is scalable to accommodate groups of almost any size.
- Replicating Real World Interaction: Celebrating crew at Kinetic IT is key to our success; it was important to replicate this experience in a virtual environment including the opportunity to hear from executive leaders, networking with colleagues, chilling to live music or playing entertaining games with crew.
- Generating Interest: Take up of new technology is always a challenge, so a targeted communication strategy was implemented to generate interest and encourage signups to the event. This included instructions on how to engage with the technology and what to what to expect on the night.
- Dispersed Audience: With staff dispersed across two regions, Kinetic IT worked with Gather and Meetingland to ensure the user experience would be to a high quality and fun.
- Real-time Global Coordination: Coordination needed to be managed across international time zones as well as three Australian capitals.
“I love the interface. It was absolutely easier for myself to participate in a social gathering as sensory issues deter me from in-face events. And as a gamer, this also appeals to me. And the DJ was absolutely on FIRE! Nice work!”— Participant Feedback
Virtual events have been identified through Gartner’s Hype Circle for the Digital Workplace as an emerging innovation technology; with Gather having been used by large organisations such as Activision and the University of New South Wales, it’s clear these sorts of events will continue post-pandemic. Gather is similar to virtual online spaces, such as Second Life, Club Penguin or Habbo Hotel, where users move and interact using customised avatars. Gather, as a website, supports a range of multi-player games such as Codenames, Draw It or Go Fish, and utilises a user’s camera and microphone to communicate.
With the support of KIT’s leadership team, Jo and Ash engaged Meetingland, a Germany-based company which is also an official affiliate of Gather, to design the custom KIT Tropical Island map for the ACT-NSW virtual get-together.
Alex Mirschel, founder of Meetingland, said it was a great pleasure working with Kinetic IT on the initiative. “The entire team was extremely professional yet warm and welcoming. We really enjoyed supporting Kinetic IT in this innovative approach, and it was amazing to see how much fun they had during the event.
“It will remain one of our all-time favourite events because each employee was enthusiastic about the event, and fully embraced the virtual format. We even had a virtual disco with live music by a DJ!
“Kinetic IT has proven that, as a company, it really looks ahead and is open to new ideas; Kinetic IT always keeps the well-being of its crew in mind. What a flagship company!“
“Fantastic – so many other uses of this platform. For workshop breakout sessions this would be brilliant.”— Participant Feedback
As it was Kinetic IT’s first time using Gather and holding such an elaborate virtual event, there was understandable trepidation and, of course, technical issues to consider. Working closely with Meetingland, additional support was made available for the night, including technical support to help the Kinetic IT crew and invited guests to use the platform and debunk issues. Despite this, the Events team was confident it had identified the right solution to the problem and, with wider support from the business, delivered the virtual event with great success.
On the night, our east coast crew logged on to hear from the executive leadership team, share crew highlights and success stories, and welcome the latest inductee of KIT’s 10-Year Club. Well-known Perth-based artist, DJ FADJ, was engaged and performed a 2-hour live set which was broadcast across the tropical island map on the Gather platform. Along with Uber Eats vouchers for attending crew members, the night spent on Gather was a huge success and a hit with the crew.
“We were blown away by the end result,” Ash, Kinetic IT’s Events Coordinator, says. “It was awesome seeing our ideas come to life through the bespoke Kinetic IT map Alex and his Meetingland team made for us. With the addition of a great range of games, we became even more excited about seeing how the virtual event would turn out.”
Feedback after the event showed a range of views from the crew, particularly the inclusive opportunities the virtual event offered to different types of people and personalities such as introverts or those with sensory accommodations.
“Survey feedback about our Gather event showed that many crew enjoyed the virtual tropical island setting, and were open to the idea of trying something new such as this platform,” Jo says. “We’re grateful to crew who gave it a go and joined us for a virtual boogie to DJ FADJ, who is an absolute star.”
- Virtual: As an online solution, the Kinetic IT event brought crew together to celebrate success and enjoy time together.
- New: Kinetic IT leaned into trying something innovative and new, seeing the opportunity to give the platform a go due to pandemic restrictions.
- Inclusive: Crew feedback about the Gather event shows it provides an inclusive experience for different types of people and personalities across the business.
- Quality: With a custom map drawing connection between the event and Kinetic IT, the virtual event delivered a high-quality crew experience.
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