‘How do we bring people together?’ Companies say hybrid events will continue post-COVID – MassLive.com

HOLYOKE — In two weeks, Peter Rosskothen is doing an event for 500 people.

But the owner of the Log Cabin, Delaney House, D. Hotel Suites & Spa, and Delaney’s Markets doesn’t plan to use just a banquet hall.

He plans to also use a truck.

“I have a truck where I can bring the food to Berkshire County and they can pick it up,” he said. “And here I’ll have the meals available through the Delaney’s Market locations and the Log Cabin and Delaney House.”

Virtual events — with people linked via video conferencing technology — are a necessity today, organizers say. Banquet rooms at the Log Cabin and elsewhere have limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That gives Rosskothen and his industry a challenge.

“How do we bring people together?” he said.

But even after the pandemic fades, virtual gatherings will be here to stay, according to Rosskothen and his business partners Edward Zemba, founder and president of Link to VR and Robert Charles Photography, and Jim Powers, owner of CJC Lighting and Production.

“I think the pandemic has changed us in ways we can’t even imagine,” Rosskothen said Wednesday during a multimedia presentation, conducted both in person and online, announcing all three businesses’ push into “hybrid” events combining in-person and virtual elements.

10/28/2020 – Holyoke – The flyer inside of The Republican newspaper is powered by Augmented Reality technolgy that includes an embedded video of Peter Rosskothen, owner of the Log Cabin and Delaney House, introducing hybrid events. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

Events are made more personal through the most ancient of traditions, breaking bread and sharing the same meal, Zemba said. Now people can log into a virtual event and share the meal they picked up or had delivered.

The virtual events themselves can be souped up with augmented reality and 3D or 360-degree photography.

“Didn’t you ever have one of those days where you are just tired of Zoom?” Zemba said.

Powers said the live events industry is nearly shut down. The work his company used to do — lighting, sound, production — is gone except for a few small events and some outdoor activities like drive-in movie nights.

“And those are going to shut down” as it gets colder, Powers said.

What he is doing is virtual events, with professional camera and microphone equipment, good sound production and professional graphics.

He said prices for events vary, but good sound and video production starts at £1,500 and can get as expensive as £15,000.

He did a wedding recently where the bride and groom were surrounded by just a few people in person but also a video wall of smiling faces. Those were the virtual guests watching from home.

It’s like the way the NBA set up virtual crowds for basketball games that happened this year in its Florida “bubble” isolation zone.

Powers’ company has its own servers that viewers can log into and view the proceedings, or they can use Facebook Live or other streaming services.

Zemba showed off a 360-degree camera at the event. Mounted on a pole, it looks like Sputnik, the Cold War Soviet satellite.

“With a 360-degree view it’s immersive,” he said. “You can show everything in a space.”

He also showed off augmented reality technology like he employed in a recent ad that ran in The Republican’s printed editions.

Viewers could point a smartphone at the ad, and what was a photo of Rosskothen turned into a video of the restaurant impresario.

“Now print can play in the digital world,” Zemba said.

‘How do we bring people together?’ Companies say hybrid events will continue post-COVID - MassLive.com

10/28/2020 – Holyoke – Jim Powers, owner of CJC Lightning & Production, talks about new style of event planning and hybrid events at the Log Cabin and Delaney House Wednesday morning. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

Rosskothen said he can do a socially distanced banquet for a bout £15 a plate and up. Locally, folks could pick meals up at one of his locations, or he can deliver.

“Imagine if we can send the ingredients for a signature cocktail so you can all share a toast at the same time,” he said.

Looking ahead, he said food also could be mailed. Blue Apron and other services already ship ready-to-cook meal ingredients through the mail.

Like the Delaney’s Market meals, the event meals would come with instructions.

For example, people would be told when to start heating the pot pie, when to heat the sides and so on.

“Fresh, not frozen,” Rosskothen said.

He said he expects the hybrid events concept to take off first in the business world with companies hosting meetings and awards presentations.

The concept is a little too new for things like weddings.

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