Mercedes' VIP hybrid event: Synchronised butlers and celebrity chefsHotels
Mercedes wanted a truly luxurious hybrid experience for its investors to celebrate their achievements throughout the year.
Historically, Mercedes holds a live investors experience to celebrate the end of the year. The format is a business meeting followed by fine dining in a five-star setting, and is a celebration of work and achievements throughout the year.
In 2020 during lockdown, there wasn’t an option to hold the event in person, but Mercedes decided not to let this stop them. A key objective was having the same high quality come across in a digital space.
Dokusō came onboard to help the brand pivot to a hybrid hospitality experience, without losing any of the memorable and VIP experiences which usually characterise the event.
Only four weeks of lead time was given to come up with and deliver the event. The experience had to be from delegates' own homes, as the country was under complete lockdown. For a long time, Dokusō mulled over how to recreate the gathering from home.
The decision was made to collaborate with Le Manoir, as the hotel had worked extensively across the virtual space during the pandemic to deliver cooking experiences. As Raymond Blanc is the resident chef, this also reflected the key element of providing a VIP dining experience.
The next challenge was how to make the offering different to going online and simply purchasing a cookery course. An added difficulty was providing a simultaneous experience for 25 people dotted across the UK and making sure everything that was happening was happening for all of them at exactly the same time.
Eventually, the Idea of sending butlers to people’s homes was conceived. People go to Le Manoir for its five- star services as well as the food and drink, so the butler element addressed this perfectly.
All the butlers arrived at exactly 5pm at each address to set up the kitchens and tables. They brought hampers with them containing place cards, menus, flowers, and everything else you’d expect to see at a live event experience.
A live cook-a-long and cocktail-making session was streamed from Le Manoir, with Dermot O’Leary hosting to provide a high-level TV entertainment experience.
Participants were able to interact with the sessions by cooking their own mains. As main courses needed to be on the tables at exactly 8pm, the hampers included pre-prepared starters and desserts so participants could get stuck in with the cooking, and the timing would work in the hybrid world.
A WhatsApp group encouraged everyone to share pictures from their own homes, making everyone feel connected and part of the same event.
There were several important key learnings, which Mercedes can apply to future hybrid events.
- Location is so important for live-streaming, as bad connectivity can ruin the entire experience. This is why it’s vital to bring in broadcast and TV experts who work daily for broadcast companies such as the BBC, or use professional freelance directors and camera-people.
- If hybrid is a new or relatively untapped concept for your company, it’s important to use and put your trust in the experts, in addition to using intuition and initiative. The best place to spend budget is on the director and the presenter. Push strongly for an external expert, as a company’s CEO is not necessarily the best person to direct or present the event.
- Timings are key in a virtual environment - 10 seconds on screen are like 10 minutes on stage because of audience attention spans. You don’t need to deliver a traditional 9-to-5 conference either, as people’s engagement is much lower.
- Get into the detail of the content the same way as you would the table settings. Apply the Instagram vs reality concept. Bring in props or backdrops that will look good on camera. Stage an environment that is only being shot for a few minutes like you would if it was being used for several hours.
- However, time can be saved on unnecessary details. For example, Mercedes used a Christmas tree as a background prop, but didn’t wrap all the presents under the tree thoroughly, as they wouldn’t be seen up close or in-person.