A learning experience for a hybrid world

Degreed brings back in-person learning and sets the stage for the future of the hybrid conference.


Post-pandemic, all eyes were on Degreed—the premier workforce learning and upskilling platform used by Fortune 500 companies across the globe. After a two-year hiatus, their 2021 LENS Conference made its in-person return to a world where hybrid events were here to stay. Degreed partnered with Traina to design and execute physical and digital assets that created a world-class learning experience, but not just for attendees—here’s what we learned about the future of hybrid events:


Place matters, even online

LENS always uses its rotating location for conference themes, and while this year’s Los Angeles locale was rich with inspiration, it was imperative that virtual attendees got an equal feel for the city. “Viewers from home should still feel like they’re going somewhere else,” says Mark Gallo, chief creative officer. To this end, Traina produced strong, striking visuals of Los Angeles monuments captured in a classic art-deco motif that made consistent use of Degreed’s color palette.

Swift animation brought the art to life online—with lower thirds breezing across the screen and swaying palms evoking a drive down Hollywood Boulevard. This put the SoCal locale front and center not only in promotional videos, but throughout the virtual conference experience.

Remote access raises in-person stakes

The better your virtual experience is, the higher the bar for real-life offerings. “No in-person attendee should ever wonder, ‘Why did I come all the way out here, when I could be on my couch?’” says Gallo. “That answer should be obvious from their first impression.”

In L.A., such impressions began with the massive digital billboard outside the InterContinental Hotel and continued inside with wrapped elevator doors, infographic wall decals and novel wayfinding via surfboards and Walk of Fame stars. Along with custom illustrations and iconography throughout the space, massive physical installations amplified the event’s scale, including a larger-than-life LENS 2021 photo-op, and a live sand sculptor creating a “wow” moment.

Says Gallo, “If people are bringing themselves out for your event, then you’ve got to really bring it for them.”


Physical events engage physically—virtual, virtually

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. But not so simple as thinking the same engagement tactics will work well in both spaces. “Some elements may overlap, like keynotes or breakout sessions,” says Gallo, “but everything around those elements—they are completely different experiences with unique opportunities to connect, inspire and move people.”

Live environment

For instance: when in real life, go real and go live. LENS 2021 exemplified this with real palms incorporated into the main stage design, adding further dimension to keynote addresses from Nancy Duarte, Stedman Graham, Neil Bedwell and Sebastian Terry. A live muralist likewise brought dynamism to the conference atmosphere as a custom art piece took shape throughout the weekend.

Virtual experience

As for online, attendees of LENS: On Air saw livestreams of keynote and general sessions, and were seamlessly incorporated into live Q&A moments. During session transitions, those at home answered gamified survey questions and feedback sessions to earn branded swag items Traina designed. And throughout the event, discussion groups and open chats allowed for networking among Degreed users, as well as interaction with future prospects.


Everything you touch turns to goals

Overall, nearly 1,000 individuals registered for the event, with a 70% conversion to attendance—effectively doubling the conference’s pre-pandemic numbers. Virtual attendance in 2021 especially surpassed expectations, while those who attended in person were treated to a world-class learning experience in a cosmopolitan city. Altogether, our partnership produced an experience befitting the high standards of the market leader in workforce education, and now, a pioneer in hybrid events.

The campaign has generated back everything we put into it, and not only the investment with this team. We believe when all is done, we will do 40 times the investment.”

Lauren Lochtefeld, director of field marketing


Total in-person & On Air opportunity pipelines prospects


Increase in attendance compared to 2019 event

Let’s move things forward.