Hybrid and virtual event platform Hubilo kicked off its journey in 2015 as an event attendee matchmaking platform. Up until 2020, a majority of its focus had been placed on perfecting the science of engaging audiences at live events.
As such, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe in March 2020, halting the vibrant US$400 billion events industry, undaunted, Hubilo saw an incredible opportunity to turn cancelled live events into virtual events that could connect even more people from around the world in a more convenient and engaging manner.
But the route to success was not an easy one. In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Cathy Song Novelli, SVP of marketing and communications at Hubilo, shared that while 2020 saw the rise of virtual events, it was also the year that zoom fatigue penetrated nearly every household.
“This fatigue spread like wildfire because nearly all virtual meetings and event platforms were built simply to connect people, not to engage them,” said Novelli, who came on board the company in April 2021.
“We pivoted rapidly and challenged ourselves to reimagine the future of events. We reimagined how people connect, learn, interact and get more business accomplished, virtually,” she added.
This pivot, from live events to virtual, led Hubilo to successfully raise two rounds of funding in 2020. The first was a seed round of US$4.5 million (lead investor Lightspeed India) and the second was a series A round of US$23.5 million (lead investor Lightspeed, with Balderton Capital).
This article was written in collaboration with Hubilo.
A rebrand underway
Knowing that its platform was built for engagement and event excellence, in 2021, the brand, with more than 300 employees, is now undergoing a refresh to ensure the market understands its unique positioning and differentiation.
Novelli told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE the brand identity and story that Hubilo previously had now no longer clearly articulates its value to event organisers.
“Hubilo’s mission is to drive engagement – first and foremost – yielding greater business results. Engagement with your deeply branded experience, paired with our proactive and full-time customer support team, ensures every event run on the Hubilo platform executes perfectly every time,” she said.
When asked why the rebrand was taking place midway through the year, she explained that beyond virtual/hybrid being here to stay, the industry is now at a fork in the road trying to better understand what hybrid means and how Hubilo should start dipping its toe in. As such, the company rapidly launched its rebrand to let the industry know of its expertise in virtual and in-person event execution, and ensure that their customer success teams are always available to help plan, execute, and provide post-event analysis of hybrid events.
Moreover this was aligned with the fact that the events industry is going through an overhaul with many marketers now re-evaluating how events are thought of. This placed Hubilo in an expert spot with the industry’s largest suite of engagement features, and one of the most robust of branding capabilities out there. As such, Hubilo was eager to share its brand story with the wider community – and especially with event organisers looking to keep ahead of hybrid trends and engagement.
Taking charge of the revamp soon after being hired, Novelli added the brand refresh has been one of her main priorities over the past few months. Once the strategy was defined, the company rallied and executed a complete rebrand within a month.
“It signifies our first real entry into the market. Hubilo had not, up to this point, done any substantial marketing. So when we knew we were ready to share our story with the world, we wanted to ensure our brand story was on point,” she said.
“The market can expect to now see a wave of thought leadership, video programming, engaging events and fun/thoughtful social content from Hubilo.”
Novelli also shared that much of the brand’s refresh was executed in-house, with the newly defined brand strategy being activated by Liesl Leary-Perez, vice-president of corporate marketing at Hubilo, and creative director Andrew Williams. Its positioning has been created with three main things in mind.
- Hubilo’s 24/7 fully dedicated customer success team enables event execution excellence at every level – this is an absolute differentiator that only Hubilo offers.
- Hubilo also boasts the industry’s largest suite of engagement/gamification features – built to address event organisers’ top KPIs of engagement. The Hubilo Engagement Cloud is also proven to drive greater event/business results.
- Finally, many brands, EMCs and associations have switched to Hubilo because it offers the most robust branding capabilities, so that when attendees join an event they know who is making the event happen.
What the future holds
Novelli also explained the growth out of Hubilo’s biggest markets – the US, Europe and Asia – has largely come without much marketing spend. As such, with the new global brand marketing launching this June, the team is optimistic in propelling growth from the US, Southeast Asia and Europe.
“With the world slowly opening back up again, Hubilo, with deep expertise in event engagement, is helping event organisers pivot yet again – this time from virtual to hybrid events,” she said.
“By marrying the unique benefits of virtual, which include data, personalisation, cost/time efficiencies and ROI, with those of in-person such as human connectivity and impressive in-person activations, Hubilo empowers organisers to redefine what their events are capable of.”
Moving forward, the company is looking to position itself as a leader in:
- White Glove Service – the white glove client success teams enable event organisers to get back to focusing on how to execute amazing and creative experiences.
- Engagement – Hubilo has the industry’s largest suite of engagement and gamification features proven to provide better attendee experiences.
- Comprehensive branding – Hubilo’s robust suite of branding capabilities enables clients to grow their brand and activate their messaging.
At the end of the day, the company’s mission is to foster human connections through reimagined events.
“The future of events is being defined – and our world class team is leading from the front by throwing away the status quo event model and finding new and more impactful ways to captivate online and in-person audiences,” Novelli said.