Bringing a Conference to Life in a Virtual World
Virtual Gen Blue Case Study
For years, Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s annual Gen Blue Experience conference has brought their agents and brokers from around the world together in one place for learning, networking, company-wide announcements, accolades, and fun. It’s an opportunity every year for new agents to learn from the best, and for established professionals to pick up new ideas and reconnect with old friends.
The REP Digital team has been part of this event for years, in locations as varied as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Chicago, and New Orleans. For past Gen Blue Experiences, we’ve created comedic short films to kick off general sessions, videos to celebrate award winners, and recap spotlights after the event. We’ve interviewed hundreds of real estate professionals at these shows, and even created a half-hour-long documentary out of our footage before, during, and after the event back in 2018 (you can watch the full film here).
Gen Blue 2020 was set to take place at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and our team was ready to help make it one of the best experiences yet with some of the best video content ever.
Then, 2020 happened. In-person events were put on hold, then canceled.
But Coldwell Banker was determined to pivot and make 2020’s Gen Blue the biggest Experience yet. And we were there to help.
A typical in-person Gen Blue brought 6,000 people together in-person. Digitally, we knew that we could reach so many more. Through our combined efforts, we were able to bring Gen Blue to more than 4x that many people.
Here’s how we did it.
Over the course of three months, we partnered with Coldwell Banker’s marketing team to ideate, write, produce, direct, record, edit, and live stream one of our biggest undertakings yet. We produced in-person video productions in Bellevue, WA; East Hanover, NJ; and Los Angeles, CA. We shipped remote production equipment kits to executives throughout New Jersey and utilized remote recording software to capture their keynote speeches. We conducted more than 20 remote interview shoots. And our editors worked around the clock in Nashville, TN; Kearny, NJ; and New York, NY to create all of the pieces of video content that would become the first-ever Virtual Gen Blue.
Then, we live streamed the full event to Facebook Live and Microsoft Teams for the world to see.
How do you bring learning, networking, company-wide announcements, accolades, and fun to thousands of people on a virtual event? How do you make attendees feel engaged and connected to one another without them being physically together?
Making Virtual Networking Fun
It’s important to the brand that everyone who attends has a good time at their Gen Blue Experiences.
To that end, Coldwell Banker never disappoints when it comes to the quality of performers that appear at these shows. The entertainment at the event is an essential part of the conference’s value; it provides attendees with an opportunity to let loose with other agents and brokers to build shared memories and strengthen rapport.
We knew that we had to give people similar shared experiences at this Virtual Gen Blue.
Coldwell Banker once again booked top-tier talent to perform during the event, and we made sure that they were presented in a way that would make them shine. A small production team, wearing masks and maintaining a distance of six feet from one another, recorded an interview and musical performance with American Idol winner Samantha Diaz in Los Angeles; that performance became a highlight of the general session. We also live streamed a fantastic, intimate concert by multi-platinum, award-winning singer-songwriter Andy Grammer during a virtual happy hour on the second day of the Experience; agents and brokers from around the world connected and sang along in the comments section of the stream.
That happy hour also included live “cheers!” from Coldwell Banker CEO Ryan Gorman, COO Liz Gehringer, and CMO David Marine to the entire network. The entertainment and the personal connection fostered in these moments brought everyone on the live stream together, even though they remained physically apart.
A New Approach to Learning & Company-Wide Announcements
Virtual keynote presentations and Zoom-based classes brought learning to the network remotely. But we wanted to reveal the most important company-wide announcements — a charity partnership launch with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the reveal of the new Coldwell Banker Global Luxury logo — in a more dynamic way to ensure that the Virtual Gen Blue Experience was much more than back-to-back video calls.
For the St. Jude announcement, we hired actors and shipped partnership-branded yard signs to Bellevue, WA, where a small production team filmed footage of “real estate agents” placing the signs in front of homes. This footage was then cut into a voiceover-driven announcement video alongside St. Jude-provided footage of patients and caregivers from the hospital.
For the logo reveal video, we decided on a dynamic, motion graphics-driven approach. Our post-production team crafted an elegant, inspirational video that featured voiceover narration that spoke to the value proposition of the Global Luxury program as stunning visuals showcased the beauty of the new mark.
Showing Off Award Winners in a New Way
Every year, top producing agents and other award winners are honored for their achievements at the Gen Blue Experience. Coldwell Banker wanted to announce this year’s winners in a fun, interesting way: through a parody of ESPN’s SportsCenter. REP booked a green screen studio in East Hanover, NJ. REP’s west coast-based producer and director supervised the shoot via Zoom, with the on-set monitor feed embedded into his video call.
Our post-production team then created a virtual set for our hosts to appear in in order to give the footage that flashy, “SportsCenter”-like look and feel. The result: Awards Center, another general session highlight.
A Successful Live Stream
In mid-September 2020, it was showtime. The REP Digital team streamed all of this content to the world via redundant Internet connections: high-speed Ethernet with a multi-channel bonded cellular backup. We left nothing to chance, and the stream made it to Facebook Live and Microsoft Teams without a hitch.
The show was a massive success, generating 5.6 million social impressions; 26,000+ unique viewers; and 3,000+ comments live.
It was epic and awesome, to say the least.
For years, Coldwell Banker’s Gen Blue Experiences brought the network together — and through our combined efforts, 2020’s Virtual Gen Blue was the most-attended, most-talked-about experience yet.