The Hockey Site (THS) aims to empower hockey coaches worldwide with knowledge. It is a platform for hockey coaches to learn and grow from the expertise and wisdom of the best coaches around. The central idea behind THS is to nurture its community and can be summarised in their hashtag #sharetheknowledge.
Here is an insight into how THS, co-founded by Ernst Baart, has been delivering engaging Expert Talks and Masterclasses, every fortnight for their community of over 1200 coaches from over 20 countries via Airmeet.
Challenges (and solutions)
Ernst Baart, Co-founder, THS, and a Communications professional, combined his love and experiences of communications and hockey to launch THS in 2017.
Ernst shared, “I have also been using Airmeet for hosting my company meetings at my Communications business. But the main objective of using Airmeet so far has been for the Hockey platform. Since our mission is to share knowledge, the Airmeet feature set completely aligns with our requirements and makes it an exciting platform for us to achieve our goals.”
Describing more about Hockey events, Ernst said, “In the beginning, we hosted expert sessions once a month. But now, we have evolved to twice a month as the interest in online events grew during the pandemic. During these times we hardly have any opportunities to meet with people in our own region, more so throughout the world. We saw that there was a possibility to up our events.”
Challenge 1: Hosting deep engaging virtual events
Ernst explained, “We host expert talks, masterclasses, coach chats, webinars, whatever you want to call it. The idea is to invite an International-level Hockey Coach and talk about a Hockey-related topic. We deep dive into a very specific topic, with a presentation of 20-30 min, and then open up for Q&A for all the coaches in the live event.”
THS wanted to do away with hosting a typical broadcast-type event. Rather they wanted to host an engaging event where everyone not only interacts with the expert but also with each other, to maximise event goals.
Here are a few Airmeet features that THS leveraged to deliver engaging events –
1. Delighting audiences with an impeccable, humanised experience
To make a real impact, virtual events need to replicate physical event structure and experience for the audience. Airmeet humanises events and delivers a seamless user experience. No-latency, HD-quality audio/ video with in-browser, real-time event viewing helps make the event memorable.
Ernst said, “We have used traditional webinar software available in the market. All of them have their pros and cons. I was fortunate that I came across Airmeet because obviously, for a platform like us it is important for us that coaches not just get to listen but to engage with the speaker and each other.
Some of the webinar software might have the possibilities to chat, but with Airmeet it feels so natural. It is so similar to what we know from real-life experiences. That helps to get the engagement from the audience better than any other regular webinar solutions.”
2. Intuitive, user-friendly design
The UI/ UX of Airmeet is such that any user can easily move around and enjoy the event. It does not require you to download any component and is very responsive. Unlike any other common platforms, Airmeet prioritises user and event security and safety.
Impressed by Airmeet Ernst said, “We have all seen Zoom fatigue, and it is a real thing. Airmeet offers a different environment with a lot of room for engagement. The user-friendly environment is just outstanding. And this is a common reaction we get from our audience and speaker. It feels so easy coming in; everyone immediately understands the right way to sit at a table, go to the live session, chat, raise-hand. It is very intuitive and easy to use.”
3. Engagement features
One of the prime requirements for THS was to make their events lively and interactive.
They were able to achieve the engagement goals through Airmeet features;
- Raise-Hand & Invite to stage: Allowed their audience to interact with the speaker.
- Chat: Group and personal chat allowed the audience to interact as a group and with individuals 1:1.
- Q&A: The separate Q&A window allowed users to post questions, upvote and seek answers, at the same time allowing hosts/moderators to keep a track of popular questions.
- Screen-sharing:This was an excellent way to deepen the engagement by presenting the screen seamlessly.
Ernst explained, “I have used many event platforms from old Google Hangouts, WebinarJam, WebinarNinja, and Zoom. When I chanced upon Airmeet, I immediately loved the platform and took various full-stack deals.
I opened several accounts with Airmeet for different purposes, for my communications business, and THS. For my other business, I have done Annual General Meetings for the company as well as business club events.”
Challenge 2: Collaborative assignments & post-event networking
Networking is behind every attendee’s mind. It allows them to mingle, learn, and explore outside the event agenda. THS was keen on offering this at their events.
The social lounge is the virtual space where the participants can take a seat at any table, move across the table, and join others on the same tables in a mini-virtual video conference.
Ernst shared how they implemented post-event networking, “What sets Airmeet apart from other platforms is the lounge with the virtual tables. It allows the coaches to meet with the experts and meet up with fellow coaches, peer-to-peer, and share experience among themselves. And that adds extra value for us through the Airmeet experience.”
These tables are customisable and can be branded. The number of tables can also be customised based on the event requirement.
Ernst shared an interesting application of the Airmeet Social lounge when he said, “Together with FIH (International Hockey Federation) Academy we did some workshops. Pro-league games are big international events and we set up workshops for a lot of these games on Airmeet. We have a Pre-game workshop where experts do analysis of the teams, have pre-game talk and finally give assignments by dividing the audience into groups.
During the game, the groups move to their assigned social lounge tables to watch the game and complete the assignment with their group. After the game, we have a post-game workshop where the teams can present their answers and explain it by coming on to the stage.”
Custom labelling Airmeet’s social lounge tables helped them divide the audience into groups and get a lot of meaningful interaction on the tables. This social lounge networking was coupled with pre and post interactive Airmeet webinar sessions.
Challenge 3: Scalability and video-recording
THS was looking for an event platform that allows them to add more participants to the event while keeping it affordable. Another critical requirement for THS was to be able to record event sessions and leverage it for paid members later.
Airmeet allows you to reach a wider audience as you can host hundreds of thousands of attendees and scale on the go. Ernst said, “We try and limit the number of participants to our live event. Originally that added to the cost factor when we were using other software because either you buy the very expensive package that allows a bigger number of attendees, or you get a smaller package with limited participant numbers. But with Airmeet we have a lot of bandwidth to have a bigger audience set.”
2. Event recording:
Airmeet records your live event and saves it on the secure cloud without any size limitations. THS uses these recordings to extend the length and reach of its event, and provide more resources for its members for later use.
Ernst said, “Recorded videos are immediately available after the events.
Most of our live events are free, but if someone wants to watch it again later, then they have to be a paid member of our site to view the repurposed video recording of the session.”
3. Reliable support and assistance:
Pre, during and post event Airmeet support helped them get the best out of Airmeet easily. From technical assistance to event planning, Airmeet helps you through the journey.
Ernst said, “I love the fact that you provide support through your own medium. Support is available 24/7. We do business around the world, and no matter what time of the day we work, someone is always available at Airmeet to help you out.”
THS strives to continue serving its coach community and explore more possibilities by leveraging Airmeet’s conference format and tiered ticketing.
Ernst shared their future plans and said, “We love the sponsor booths and mini-lounges that you have at every booth. I am looking forward to using it extensively.”
He added, “I am also really excited to start using the tiered ticketing feature. This will open many possibilities for mastermind groups and will be of a lot of use to us. We also host paid classes for FIH (International Hockey Federation) and will start using Airmeet for ticketed events.
We are also planning to host a Hockey Conference virtually that we had earlier abandoned because of the logistics involved in planning a physical event for a worldwide audience.”
Ernst is very passionate about the sport and about giving back to society. He said, “Many coaches do not have the financial means, and this is the platform that they can leverage to share knowledge and reach a broad audience.
Airmeet allows you to set up a broad spectrum of events and helps solve my main motto in life – “sharing is caring”. Through Airmeet, if you are creative in leveraging its features, you can open a lot of doors for various kinds of events. There are even a lot of possibilities with sponsored events that I look forward to discovering in the months to come.”