Pivoting an events-based business to the web

Discover how Moniker uses Webflow to create engaging team-building virtual experiences.

Sean Hoff
September 17, 2020
Inspiration

What originally looked like a banner year of sales and growth for our company became a giant zero for the rest of 2020 overnight. Luckily, Webflow helped us take that giant zero glaring at us and turn our ideas and vision into a profitable business model.

In a pre-pandemic world, our company, Moniker, planned creative corporate retreats, off-sites, and incentive trips for clients around the world.

Think companywide “The Amazing Race” adventures using tuk-tuks in Thailand, sailing around in the Amalfi Coast, or hosting an elaborate game of “Survivor” on the beaches of a Caribbean resort. Pretty unique job, but things changed rather quickly when global travel restrictions started piling up back in April and all (literally, all) of our clients started to cancel one by one. What originally looked like a banner year of sales and growth for our company became a giant zero for the rest of 2020 overnight.

moniker retreat
Example of a Moniker's retreat pre-pandemic.
moniker retreat
Example of a Moniker retreat pre-pandemic.

Enter the eureka moment.

As the saying goes, “out of crisis comes clarity.” As the days unfolded, we realized that to our clients we weren’t just a travel company for them to outsource all of the planning and logistics. Rather, we were a one-stop shop to help them with culture building. As companies moved into a remote work setup and engagement became more of a challenge to maintain virtually, we wanted to help our clients boost morale and maintain strong engagement to keep their teams and cultures going strong in a remote world.

Initially, we were hesitant to jump on the bandwagon of virtual team-building experiences because, quite frankly, there is a lot of overpriced crap out there online. Every time I see another invite for a virtual yoga session or virtual wine tasting pop up in my inbox, my eyes roll.

We were deliberating whether we wanted to hop aboard this virtual experience train. It wasn’t something we had ever done before, and we were afraid of tarnishing our brand and reputation we had spent years building by jumping in alongside the masses with something that would fall flat and fizzle out.

Then the phone started ringing.

A lot of our clients reached out saying they were experiencing (understandable) dips in engagement and morale and asking us if we could come up with a way to apply our creative brains from the fun in-person stuff we do to the virtual world. And that’s why we chose to dive in.

We knew we didn’t want to be resellers of other people’s experiences. Instead, we wanted to create our own. That was where our added value would be and how we might make enough margin to survive this. We spent about two full weeks trying out dozens of other experiences and concepts we found online to figure out what worked, what didn't, and what we could learn. Then we used what we learned and committed to building our own concepts from scratch — with the same standards as our in-person experiences that our clients love.

Eventually, we committed to developing five concepts over five months, and then started tackling the how — figuring out which platforms and technologies we could leverage to pull this off.

Screens from one of Moniker's virtual murder mysteries, "Love in the First Degree."
Screens from one of Moniker's virtual murder mysteries, "Love in the First Degree."

We knew Zoom was the de facto method of delivery given its ubiquitous adoption, but we needed to find a foundation to build everything on that would be:

  • Simple to design ourselves
  • Flexible to our needs
  • Extremely customizable

Given our familiarity with Webflow — we use it for our company’s main webpage and blog platform — we started exploring what functionality it could offer if we dug down deep into the off-the-shelf modifications.

We spent a lot of time poking around the forums and posting questions and requests in the community discussions. Eventually that led us to a senior developer at Webflow — Dan Rogers, one of the first official employees and original architects of Webflow. He helped us figure out how to stretch the limits of Webflow’s capabilities as a website platform into the virtual game experience realm and helped us code some neat and unique stuff to suit our needs.

One of our concepts, a lunar-themed disaster scenario, caught the eye of some NASA executives. Now they are rolling it out as a team-building event for their staff at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, thanks to some nifty features like stackable rankings, pre-queued videos, and other things we implemented that impressed them enough with our ingenuity to make a space-themed workshop worthy of being rolled out as their first “official” pandemic culture-building experience.

Moniker's space-themed experience, Project Artemis.
Moniker's space-themed experience, Project Artemis.

Fast forward to now, and we have four completely unique concepts and one more in development for September (an adaptation of “12 Angry Men” set into a virtual ecosystem). As a team, we’ve written screenplays for virtual murder mysteries, cast actors, written scripts for pitch competitions, stretched the limits of Zoom as a gaming platform, and leveraged Webflow to help us deliver 3D rendered escape rooms as well as NASA-approved disaster scenarios.

It’s been a whirlwind ride, and we’ve learned a tremendous amount in the process. But none of it would have been possible without the versatility of Webflow’s platform. It helped us take that giant zero glaring at us for 2020 revenue and turn our ideas and vision into a profitable business model.

Our virtual engagement experiences for organizations have allowed us to survive through the coronavirus pandemic as a travel company (a feat we’re pretty proud of) and create what will likely be a whole separate division for us going forward. Despite travel being an uncertain industry to be in right now, amazingly, we are able to say we feel optimistic that the future is bright!

Sean Hoff

Sean Hoff is the founder and managing partner at Moniker, a corporate travel agency focused on helping clients plan imaginative retreats, off-sites, and now virtual experiences for companies around the world. Follow his (and Winston's) adventures on their Instagram.

You might also like...

More

Join the conversation

What's Webflow?

Try it for free
Designer

Designer

The power of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in a visual canvas.

Interactions

Interactions

Build website interactions and animations visually.

CMS

CMS

Define your own content structure, and design with real data.

Ecommerce

Ecommerce

Goodbye templates and code — design your store visually.

Editor

Editor

Edit and update site content right on the page.

Hosting

Hosting

Set up lightning-fast managed hosting in just a few clicks.