How lockdown has democratised events

Virtual and hybrid events are giving planners the opportunity to reach new global audiences, says creative director at Private Drama Events.

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

Since lockdown began, visitors to the British Museum’s virtual site rose from 2,000 daily to 75,000.

The appetite for the virtual experience is clear. Hybrid, virtual and augmented reality offerings are the way forward.

As nimble event agencies adapt to new technology and collaborate with in-house teams to create powerful virtual and hybrid content, the opportunity for democratisation is huge. On 1 June the London Philharmonic Orchestra held its first virtual gala fundraising event with no barrier to entry, bringing a potential new audience to the classical music scene.

You see, in the virtual setting, your content IS your event.

Here are the ways that technology is going to help us future-proof and democratise the live event experience:

In future, the digital or virtual aspect will be part of any event. This will open it up to new audiences both in terms of demographic and global reach. This, in turn, will add hugely to legacy and long-term value. It will also create an access opportunity to those still nervous about going to physical events.

Attendees will be able to decide how to attend and, just as importantly, how to engage – whether it’s via laptop, tablet or smartphone. Real interaction and impact will consequently make ROI measurement much easier. These are exciting opportunities to rethink and measure the way messaging and experiences are delivered and to include an audience with no financial bar to entry.

Contingency planning is also likely. There will be parallel planning for a live event solution and a hybrid one, and a clear cut-off date for the decision to take the event one way or the other.

Sponsorship or charitable events can be made accessible to everyone, everywhere. The high net worth ticketed events to arts institutions and charitable events can be opened up to a much wider audience, also bringing education and consequently fundraising to more people.

Sustainability is another winner in the virtual or digital offering. It will be hard to justify long-distance travel when the technology allows access to any location and there could be future restrictions around travel. Now is the time to re-examine the whole sustainable event journey and prioritise it.

As the ‘new live’ experience dances with technology to create greater access there will inevitably be teething problems, such as internet speed and drop out. However, we have all become much more forgiving and patient in order to experience something authentic and live.

If this outbreak has taught us anything, it’s that people really do value the importance of human interactions and emotional engagements. If as a consequence we can widen access to our events and be more sustainable then we will have achieved something worthwhile.

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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