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25/03/2021 By : Katherine

POP Awards 2021: a different way of thinking and doing

With just one day to go before this year’s POP Awards, we take a look at the preparations which have gone on behind the scenes to stage the 2021 event.

While travel and border restrictions have curtailed physical movement, the appetite for learning about new destinations and products across the globe has increased over the past year – during the first lockdown, OTT recorded a 300 per cent increase in the number of registrations to the platform.

Last year’s POP Awards marked one of the very last live events to take place before lockdown. Necessity being the mother of invention, this year’s event has required a whole different way of thinking - and a whole different way of doing.

Our intrepid team has been safely putting the final touches to the Awards, which will be produced in a hybrid format, blending live presentation with winner participation on Zoom. The POP Awards will honour our winning brands and agents, bringing the atmosphere into their homes online using radio and video.

OTT’s POP Awards will celebrate the community’s most popular courses and our outstanding Travel Professional Gurus on Friday March 26. Travel.Radio will start the pre-party warm up show at 3.30pm with travel and lifestyle broadcaster Lisa Snowdon presenting the awards from 4.30pm from our mystery venue.

With just a few days to go, we managed to prize our event production team away from their laptops, phones and planning schedules for just a few minutes to find out more about the challenges of organising an awards evening during a pandemic...


The Event Organiser – Ali Ball

Ali has been organising glittering high profile events, awards and get togethers for corporate, music and film clients for more than 20 years. Event organisers are the masters of multi-tasking – and this year’s requirement for her to roll up her sleeves came with additional rules and regulations to follow, not to mention constant applications of hand sanitiser.

“I’m delighted to organise OTT’s second POP Awards. Events is a real ‘people’ business, so it’s been quite strange organising an event during a pandemic. Making a socially distanced site visit wearing a mask in an empty hotel, to ensure a safe environment for staff and dealing with PPE requirements are completely different from years before - but it all reflects how we are currently living.”

“We’ve all had to adapt our working practices and formats to ensure business carries on during the pandemic. We are looking to potentially continue this event online in the future, which will enable us to reach even more of our worldwide guests and audience, moving to a hybrid awards event next year. While this format has evolved out of necessity due to the restrictions of the pandemic, it does have a role to play in the future and I think this is the way forward for global companies - but we all still need the personal touch and I can’t wait for my next live in person event!”


The Cameraman – Jon Feuell

COVID-19 restrictions have led to different working practices - and more time in front of our screens. Jon has spent the pandemic helping destinations and travel companies bring their products to life using photography video and audio. While last year’s event was filmed and streamed using a more conventional approach, 2021 means planning, incorporating and using different tech to bring people together to create an inclusive virtual Awards event.

“This year’s PoP Awards is very different from last year – last year we were presenting the Awards with additional video projection showing perhaps a destination. This year, it’s more complex: we’ve got a camera on a slider and a camera with a presenter, and that camera’s got a teleprompter linked to a switchboard with four different inputs which can connect to Zoom or different sources. I can put in titles, promo videos, cut between the cameras, and then cut back out to Zoom and have an instant conversation with other people.”

“One of the hard parts of this is synching up the audio together but we’ve just done a test and it’s all working well. I'm the cameraman and the editor at the same time, which is a big challenge!”

“But while it may be a lot easier to just show up, press record and start filming, there’s a real future, post-pandemic, for events which integrate virtual and live elements. Because it's portable, you can be anywhere which is ideal for the travel trade. It opens up possibilities to do all sorts of things.”


The DJ – Leo Jones

Travel.Radio  is a global, digital radio station for those who work in or associated with the world of travel. It was launched at the start of the pandemic to keep the aviation world, especially cabin crew and airline colleagues together. Station director and presenter Leo Jones will be getting awards attendees into the party spirit during the pre-event warm up an hour before presenting the awards with broadcaster Lisa Snowdon.

“Travel.Radio started during the pandemic. We’ve been broadcasting now to the travel industry for six months, motivating agents while they work from home. Just like OTT, Travel.Radio has been playing a similar role during the pandemic, working to keep the industry together.”

“The travel industry is going through the most challenging and disruptive period in its history, so our mission is to help agents adapt to working from home with entertaining music and chat. The world has become a bit podcast heavy of late, so we’re here to help with that all important motivation.”

“Just like OTT, we’re a fun brand! The PoP Awards brings together brands which really complement each other in that approach, as well as ensuring agents and those in the travel trade are kept up-to-date about what’s new in the industry.”

“There’s so much pent up demand – a demand from people to get back to travelling and also a need for agents to become fully aware of the products and the destinations opening up to travellers as and when restrictions start to ease.”

Join the fun, solve the puzzle of the mystery venue - and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize! Register for OTT’s PoP Awards here



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