The global pandemic has brought the events industry to a complete standstill. Large scale annual and quarterly events such as the SXSW conference and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been canceled or postponed. These numerous cancellations have put a huge dent in the events industry. A dent that innovative companies are filling, by navigating another route to deliver their promises. Adobe and IBM are prime examples of companies that have delivered their promised events in new-age fashion.
But all the conferences and events mentioned above are commercial endeavors. When it comes to a festival experience, flagship events such as Coachella, Tomorrowland have failed to deliver. Instead, video games have paved the way forward in creating colossal experiences, in the virtual world. While the popular online game, Fortnite is already well known for hosting virtual concert experiences in the past, this time they took it up a notch, leveraging on the current pandemic and online activity by hosting a virtual concert tour instead of a one-off show, with musician Travis Scott. The concert recorded more than 12 million people in attendance, making Epic Games a pioneer in the digital event experience.
All these current events beg the industry to ask the question- Are virtual events going to be a thing once all is said and done? Arnaud Verchere, Founder and Head of Strategy at Tonic International believes it to be so. “We anticipate by early 2021, virtual events will be commonplace.” He’s not the only one. Communicate earlier spoke with Geometry new Executive VP, Safwan El Roufai and he expects to see a significant shift in the behavior of brands, people, and culture. “ This will be seen in the budgets, change in scale and frequency, and most importantly a new breed of experiences, that will blend physical with digital,” said Roufai.
In response, agencies in the region have begun to leverage on these rising trends in the events industry, by creating platforms brands can utilize to capture new as well as existing audiences. Some of these platforms include Tonic International’s new digital event solution, Podium.
According to Verchere, “Podium is a system to plan, setup, organize, manage and amplify digital events by making them as immersive and exciting, and probably more effective than real-life events.” The platform was created as a direct response to the pandemic and utilizes off the shelf technologies during the various stages of an event with the aim to provide the best networking, trading and enjoyment solution for digital events.
Another notable example from the region is Geometry’s new experiential model called LDX. According to Roufai, LDX aims to deliver an experience where the physical and the virtual are intertwined with one another, that they cannot function independently. An example he shared was with an exclusive music experience the agency is currently planning for one of their clients, where LDX technology helps in broadcasting the experience along with other tools to help the artists create their own music sets, thus giving the attendee a surreal experience.
While these upcoming platforms are still in the planning phase, the events industry is right now standing on an open playing field, and agencies and brands are using their think tanks to create new solutions for brands, to consider while hosting events in the future. It will be interesting to see who’ll be the top players within the next two to three years’ time and it will be even more interesting to see how many have come out from the region.