The headlines are filled with bad news. Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the live events industry and what happens next is unclear.
Meanwhile, everyone is still debating the impact that the pandemic and the rapid ‘pivot’ to virtual experiences will ultimately have on live events. The most common view seems to be that whilst on-line digital experiences are interesting, they will never be a replacement for the need for people to meet and engage in a live event.
I’m sure that there is some truth in this position, we will, as humans always want to meet face-to-face. But I sometimes worry that ‘longing for the good old days’ may lead us to underestimate the impact that digital technology will have on traditional live events and on the transformation of brand experiences in the future.
Back when television first emerged, everyone listening to radio said it would never take off. After all, who wants to watch someone speaking into a microphone? Radio fans sadly misjudged television’s future because they could only view the technology through a lens of the past. Radio still exists but television has had a greater impact on advertising, marketing and the world in general than could possibly have been imagined.
When assessing the impact that digital experience will have on the live events industry it is critical that we allow ourselves the opportunity to imagine new, even unfamiliar possibilities and accept that new experience technologies will continue to emerge, and audience behaviour and preferences will continue to change.
Only a number of months into the prevalence of virtual events we have already realised some real benefits, like greater, more inclusive audience reach, much more engaging content formats and vastly improved environmental sustainability. While we will surely still want to meet face to face, the truth is that bringing people together online can often be more efficient, more impactful and even more effective than live events.
So, one thing we don’t need to continue to debate is whether technology is going to be an integral part of the live experience. It will, and we will continue to see breakthroughs in new experience technologies, apps, social media, AR and VR, drones, interactive video, projection mapping, holograms and more. What we now need to do is think about how we apply this dizzying array of technology in the best and most meaningful ways to enhance and extend the experience?
Founder and Managing Partner