COVID-19 changed everything. I have never imagined for a moment that all the international winners and finalists of the annual Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards that we organised, would be connecting with us from behind their computer screens.
Gone were the days where they would fly into Singapore a few days before the flagship event to prepare for their presentations in front of the awards judging panel; meet with fellow award participants across networking activities; wait in anticipation and excitement in the ballroom all decked in formal dinner wear as the winners are being announced during the awards ceremony & dinner that is deemed as the Oscars night of the eldercare industry in APAC.
COVID-19 challenged our team to think differently, and to reinvent the way we created the award experience. We jumped on the technology bandwagon and learnt the new jargon and knowledge required for us to take the awards into a virtual experience for the international participants and a in-person live experience for those in Singapore. Safe management measures? Yes! Six to a table limits? No Problem! Staggered entry and exit times? Checked! To run an event during COVID-19 meant that we had to adhere to a whole list of requirements to ensure the safety of everyone who attended.
The awards ceremony during last year’s World Ageing Festival kicked off with the annual Finalists presentations to the judges. An important part of the awards participation is the opportunity for all finalists to share their stories in person with our judges. We had to organise 88 organisations into four virtual breakout rooms, with a military styled timetable to ensure fairness in time allocation, access to judges and an organised flow.
Our toughest challenge for the team was executing the official awards presentation ceremony. Viewers tuned in internationally across eight different time zones while a smaller local audience attended live in Singapore. We split our manpower resources into the virtual team and the live team, getting all the finalists line up in virtual waiting rooms while waiting for their names to be called and the winners announcements made. Like octopuses, each staff juggled multiple roles that evening, striving to capture elements of the live event across into the virtual platform for the larger audience. Would we do this again? Of course. Better each year.