Join our hackathon to build Livestorm Plugins and shape the future of video engagement. Learn more
Background
Case study

Untapped New York Used Livestorm to Increase Attendees by 84% and Save Time

We spoke with Justin Rivers, Chief Experience Officer at Untapped New York, to find out why he decided to switch to Livestorm from another platform, how he did it, and the results he saw.

Industry

Media

Size

5-10

Location

USA

Use case

Live Events

Introduction

The Secrets of New York City

What originally started as a blog in 2009, Untapped New York has grown to an online magazine reaching over 700,000 unique visitors a month and a trusted tour company delighting over 10,000 tourists each year. Their mission is nothing less than the offer of wonder and discovery. From a spooky abandoned hospital on Ellis Island to the iconic Grand Central Terminal, Untapped New York helps curious minds and adventurers alike unearth the secrets and hidden gems of New York City (NYC).

Background

Growing In-Person Experiences to Grow Business

While the company’s website saw steady traffic, the self-generating ad sales from their editorial content (as riveting as we found it) did not generate enough revenue to support the growth of the company. Moreover, this model was not scalable without sacrificing quality for quantity, which the co-founders Michelle Young and Augustin Pasquet would not consider.

That’s where Justin Rivers came in. Justin is the savvy playwright-turned-Chief Experience Officer at Untapped New York, who moved from northern New Jersey to the bright lights of New York City over 20 years ago and never looked back. When he joined the company in 2014, he had the crucial role of creating memorable experiences in and around NYC. “Think of it as quality assurance for the tours and experiences,” he told us. These unique experiences would get passed to a carefully-selected group of guides for in-person tours.

The ticket sales from this initiative helped balanced revenue with a model that was not only scalable, but also in line with what Untapped New York did best: highlighting landmarks and spaces in NYC. While the self-generating ad sales only accounted for one-third of the company's revenue, the tours and experiences filled in the other two-thirds.

It seems that this success story should stop there; however, when the state of New York was forced to shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Untapped New York had to reinvent the concepts of in-person tours and experiences.

Lower Manhattan
Problem

Zooming Through a Difficult Period

The COVID-19 pandemic saw people, businesses, and nations screech to a halt. Of the industries that were hit the hardest, tourism was front and center. Untapped New York was suddenly faced with zero ticket sales and a return to the unsustainable revenue model that relied solely on ad sales from their editorial content.

Moreover, they encountered several roadblocks as they took tours online for their existing Insiders program, “a members-only club that takes people to the most off-limits, unique places in New York City for free with a monthly membership”. The reinvented Insiders program gave paying members access to carefully curated live and on-demand virtual experiences. These experiences were enhanced with the use of storytelling, presentations, and professional photos and videos.

Untapped New York defaulted to Zoom as a video solution because it was known to their audience. However, he soon learned that this popular platform presented many problems that threatened the professional experience that he wanted to provide to his members.

The team’s first challenge concerned the friction that they and their presenters (the tour guides) experienced when sharing their screens. Because presentations and media could not be loaded directly to any one Zoom webinar, a pause would be needed when it came time for the presenters to share their screen in order to share their presentation slides and media. They noticed that running their presentation from a shared screen also created a lag when switching slides.

The team’s second challenge came from the time that was required to download and edit the virtual tour video files from Zoom. These videos are important, because they serve as on-demand content for their Insiders members.

However, because Zoom started recording the moment the presenter joined the webinar room, a lot of editing was required. “Zoom was really restricting because you’d have to show up when you’d start the event, you’d have to have everything ready to go - there was no opportunity to make last-minute changes,” Justin explained. He added, “What I had to do was get the download, which was a raw video file from the minute we walked into the Zoom room, which required editing because there would always be a practice session between 15 and 20 minutes (with the presenter) to get ready.”

Zoom was really restricting because you’d have to show up when you’d start the event, you’d have to have everything ready to go - there was no opportunity to make last-minute changes.

Solution

Exclusive 'Insiders' Tours Powered by Livestorm

In speaking with one of his presenters about these challenges, Justin was told about a newer, more efficient alternative to Zoom called Livestorm. After getting a quick walkthrough from his presenter, who had already been using Livestorm for other virtual tours, Justin and Co-Founder & CEO, Augustin, decided to test it.

After starting with Livestorm’s demo webinars, which were available live and on-demand, they tested the platform and video quality during internal meetings. This progressed to running mock virtual tours and the onboarding of their presenters, tour guides who were more accustomed to in-person experiences, to make sure they were comfortable with the platform. Finally, delighted by the automation capabilities and overall user experience, Untapped New York moved all their live events over to Livestorm.

While there was initial hesitation from presenters who had never seen the platform before, the ease of use and browser-based system made the onboarding very simple. Justin explained, “I always tell (new) presenters that this will be a 15-minute tech check. It will only take 15 minutes unless you have a lot of questions, but I can get you everything you need in 15 minutes.”

I always tell (new) presenters that this will be a 15-minute tech check. It will only take 15 minutes unless you have a lot of questions, but I can get you everything you need in 15 minutes.

Untapped New York team
Results

Smoother Events, Time Savings, and Happier Customers

Between smoother events, time savings, and happier customers, Livestorm’s video engagement platform helped Justin and the team at Untapped New York accomplish a lot. That’s not to mention the unexpected benefits of better internal meetings and an increased global footprint.

No longer seeing lags, hosting virtual experiences became frictionless. Untapped New York and their presenters found that they were able to integrate their presentations and high-quality videos seamlessly into their events without needing to share their screens, and this was exactly what they needed. “The reason why we like Livestorm is the functionality of not needing to screen share. Period. End of story. Being able to call up a presentation and not having it run off the screen got rid of the lag we used to experience with Zoom.”

The reason why we like Livestorm is the functionality of not needing to screen share. Period. End of story. Being able to call up a presentation and not having it run off the screen got rid of the lag we used to experience with Zoom.

Being able to meet and rehearse before the recording started was not only handy, it also saved time. And when it was show time, all they had to do was hit "Participate" to present and record, and the rest was automatic. “What’s great about Livestorm is that you record once you start the event, so there was no editing after that, which saves me 2-3 hours each week! Plus the recording goes straight to the members, since they get an automated email after the event with the recording.” Justin added, “The separation of the event room from the stage is awesome - it allows for a cleaner presentation. It’s very elegant and all my presenters love it!”

What’s great about Livestorm is that you record once you start the event, so there is no editing after that, which saves me 2-3 hours each week! Plus the recording goes straight to the members, since they get an automated email after the event with the recording.

Engaged customers are happy customers, and that’s exactly what Justin saw. Their Insiders found Livestorm’s chat feature and emoji reactions not only easy to use, but also a lot of fun. Moreover, he told us that their best-attended virtual tour of 142 live attendees out of 189 registrants was thanks to Livestorm! With Zoom, their best-attended event saw only 77 live attendees out of 105 registrants - that’s an 84% increase!

Attendance and engagement go together, as Justin added that, “with Zoom webinars, our attendees complained that they felt disconnected because it was hard to chat. Livestorm struck that balance with a chat function that’s open and easy to use. It’s one of the big reasons why we were told to use Livestorm by the presenter who referred us. Our Insiders love to talk and interact with one another, and at the end (of an event), the whole screen would fill up with emojis. They absolutely love it!”

With Zoom webinars, our attendees complained that they felt disconnected because it was hard to chat. Livestorm struck that balance with a chat function that’s open and easy to use. It’s one of the big reasons why we were told to use Livestorm by the presenter who referred us. Our Insiders love to talk and interact with one another, and at the end (of an event), the whole screen would fill up with emojis. They absolutely love it!

Virtual Tour via Livestorm
Looking Ahead

As the World Opens Up

Even as traditional tourism was opening up in June 2021, when the interview was conducted, Justin told us that they had no plans to take away their virtual experiences and were hooked on the platform. In fact, they want to maintain their current cadence of 4 virtual experiences per month thanks to the huge membership they garnered from around the world. “We found a way to virtually open up our product to the entire world and will continue to use Livestorm as long as I can see. We are invested in it and don’t want to go anywhere.”

“We found a way to virtually open up our product to the entire world and will continue to use Livestorm as long as I can see. We are invested in it and don’t want to go anywhere.”

Justin Rivers' Avatar

Justin Rivers

Chief Experience Officer

pattern
pattern

Get started with Livestorm for free

Create a better experience for your attendees and less stress for your team. You’re just minutes away from building engaging online events.

Try Livestorm for free
Get a live demo
  • No credit card required
  • No software to install