What does the future of experiential events look like?

Planning luxury experiential events needs to feel authentic, says Adam Blackwood of Private Drama Events.

Private Drama Events' activation at Engage, Kensington Palace
Private Drama Events' activation at Engage, Kensington Palace

Adam Blackwood is the founder and creative director of Private Drama Events.

It is an exciting time to be working in the creative events industry.

As the director of a London-based creative agency it is part of my job to feel the pulse and tide of corporate client’s ambitions and intentions, to provide them with solutions before they have identified issues themselves. 

A new trend is emerging under the banner of ‘experiential’ that is still in its nascent form. More and more corporate clients are seeking experiential events to convey and embody a set of core values and principles that underline their business.

In event industry-speak, the term ‘experiential’ is fast starting to designate when a client wants to take and transform their brand identity, materialising it, to be felt by clients and employees alike. 

What differentiates this work from pop-up experiential marketing, such as Coca-Cola distributing free drinks from a giant can on a beach, or the experience entertainment of Punch Drunk or Secret Cinema, is the requirement of distinctive, layered, brand storytelling that feels, and is, authentic. 

A younger, more informed media generation, pushing for purpose in the workplace, are more adept than ever at spotting greenwashing, clichés and tokenism. 

Events we have worked on recently demonstrate a clear trend across sectors - that experiential is here to stay.

In October 2019 we produced the 10th One Young World Summit featuring the likes of Bob Geldof and Meghan Markle. Each year the opening ceremony of the summit has been a spectacular event with a welcoming party atmosphere.

However, this year our team took things a step further, transforming the opening ceremony into an experience that captured what it means to be a part of One Young World. We aimed to articulate One Young World’s commitment to sustainability, inclusivity and diversity for their young international audience of future world leaders.

We’re currently collaborating with Belmond to create ‘The party of a lifetime’ onboard the world’s most stylish train, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, taking place in March. 

Belmond’s recent acquisition by LVMH (Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE) reveals the luxury powerhouse tapping into the expanding realm of so-called experiential luxury. Consumers are buying fewer products and more experiences in areas such as high-end food and wine, luxury hotels and travel. 

So, what does the future of experiential events look like? Increasingly multifaceted, extending beyond just the one-off live event to a select audience, offering opportunities to a diverse range of groups and ensuring legacy in the creation of original media and video content. 

The need to tell stories that cut through the media noise, and really move people, is at a high. Thankfully for us, it is down to those in the creative industries to do so. 

This article was written by Adam Blackwood at Private Drama Events. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of C&IT Magazine.

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