Virtual Experiences

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23 APR 2020

Creating meaningful experiences through human connections – live and virtual

As we enter the second 100 days of Coronavirus, most of us find ourselves in a strange new world. Reeling from the shock of seeing our meticulously planned, carefully crafted live events vanishing into thin air or hurriedly being shifted onto sometimes makeshift virtual platforms to deliver watered down versions of their message in a desperate attempt to reach their audiences.

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of creative pivoting across the UK and global event industries. From pop-up livestream studios, how-to guides for creating content remotely to innovative ideas for creating a personal customer connection slowly emerging as the dust settles. As the immediate panic dissipates and we acclimatise to a new normal, we tackle a few questions that the industry is asking itself:

What will the world of events look like once we emerge from lockdown?

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There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

In our 25 years in the events industry, COVID-19 is not the first crisis we have had to ride out, but it's impact has been by far the fastest, and most likely to be long lasting.

In the past, virtual events have often been viewed as an afterthought; designed as a side show to the live event, as a platform for sharing key content only with selected audiences outside of the events primary target reach. The shift from live to virtual events over the past few weeks will, undeniably, have demonstrated to even the most sceptical that there are great benefits to be had from hosting an event virtually; global reach, content capture, and easy ROI reporting at the most basic level. As a business which already had sustainability high on the agenda, the ability to be able to offer integrated digital events to reduce carbon emissions and waste generated from live events has been something we have been considering for some time. If COVID-19 is to show us anything, it is that digital can work in a way which we’ve not been able to demonstrate until now.

Getting back to 'normal'

When lockdown is lifted, life starts returning to 'normal' and social gatherings are once again permitted, will virtual events remain king, or will the world of live events snap back to its' pre-Corona habits?

We believe the answer is neither and both. Looking at the next 12-18 months, the prudent choice for most event organisers, particularly in the conference, exhibition and brand activation markets, would be to include a hybrid strategy for their events. Running an integrated virtual version alongside the main live event or building a quick action contingency plan into budgets and timelines ensures security of delivery. A trusted supplier secured, and on standby to pivot an event from live to virtual in a very short timescale will allow brands to continue to make plans during a time where the future is uncertain.


Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced

John Keats

The other major challenge, in this brave new world of hybrid events, is this:

How can we continue to create meaningful experiences in a world where human interaction is limited?

There can be no doubt that we will have to think more creatively moving forward to ensure our content, messaging and immersive experiences can still resonate on a personal level in a market that feels harder than ever to make your brand’s voice heard.

We care passionately about the experiences we create; we've put our in-house production and creative expertise together to start looking beyond lockdown and are proactively planning to allow the integration of virtual and remote options into everyday life. We have an opportunity to learn from the reactions of the past six weeks and to use creative ingenuity to start crafting hybrid experiences where virtual add-ons can work in tandem with the live event. By putting the needs of the event-goer first the result offers a more holistic, flexible and sustainable experience across platforms.

When incorporated closely with the live event design from the outset, digital platforms are a fantastic asset to help extend the reach of your event. The Coronavirus crisis has resulted in a blossoming across the UK of new and creative options for compelling content creation and engaging broadcast. With more flexibility than ever before to customise and personalise virtual event options we can ensure they feel like a natural, integrated extension of the live experience and not just an afterthought.

In a landscape where travel is limited and working from home is the norm, we foresee a desire for more sustainable event options, both from an environmental point of view as well as maintaining a healthier work/life balance. Creating more balanced, engaging and accessible virtual solutions will be key to allowing companies to extend their events to a wider customer base, reaching a demographic which might otherwise have not taken part.

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Ultimately, human beings thrive on face-to-face interaction

What does it really mean for our industry?

Ultimately, human beings thrive on interaction and connection and there is no doubt in our minds that as we emerge blinking into the sunlight of a post-pandemic world, we are going to be desperate for face-to-face contact. When that happens, the UK events industry will once again be there to create wonderful spaces and experiences which bring people together. We may have to consider new angles, such as social distancing for some months to come but it is all possible with innovative design and build.

It would, however, be a wasted opportunity not to keep building on the advances that have been made in the past weeks in virtual experiences. We will be taking advantage of the many benefits to be found in hybrid events; increased flexibility, broader reach, content creation and sustainability to keep creating the incredible shared experiences that we are known for.   

Talk to our team today to discuss virtual and hybrid options for your events - 020 7740 3988 or email [email protected]

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