What is the future for the event industry?
First of all, we would have to specify the definition of events and the different forms it can take. Very simply, according to Cambridge dictionary, an event is anything that happens, especially something important or unusual. Thus, the event agency is the one that will offer organizational services in order to carry out an event. However, instinctively, when we talk about an event agency, we immediately imagine a wedding planner agency, galas, etc. Obviously these exist but there are a lot of different agencies in the industry and they all have their specificities. Some are specified in weddings, others in corporate events and others, like Kizano, in experiential events.
It is obvious that the current health crisis has completely frozen the event market and that agencies have had to transform their usual way of working. However, for many of us, this crisis was an opportunity to explore our profession in a different way. The industry is struggling to transform their events to 100 % digital events due to the lack of human contacts. Also we use more and more technologies in events ( VR, AR, social media,...) organising a full virtual event is scary. The world is changing, people are changing, trends are changing, so events also have to change. It is true that it would be less glamorous and magical to organize a wedding on Zoom or on any communication network than in a traditional way, yet a lot of events are compatible with digital.
After the crisis, some agencies, such as wedding planners, will function - in the long term - as they have always functioned, but others will benefit from the addition of new digital strings to their bow, acquired during this crisis. Many people will say that participating in an event is a way of experiencing something real and that is totally different from what we could experience on the Internet and they are right. The sensations are different but not less intense.
Take the for example music festivals, how are Paléo Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and Openair Frauenfeld going to handle the cancellation of their festivals? These bring together several thousand people and in view of federal restrictions, it is impossible for them to organize their festival as usual. Is there a way for them to set up an alternative kind of festival?
This brings us to the main current challenge of the event sector: creativity. Even if the agencies in this sector have to be creative in usual times, the situation we are living in pushes us to be even more creative and to innovate. Some agencies have to reinvent their business plan so that they can continue to create new experiences. Currently, the only available way to do so is digital. Even the biggest festivals are no exception and are forced to cancel their event. For example, the famous Cannes Festival taking place during the month of May is canceled and to counter this difficulty, the organizers are launching a fully digital film festival, called “We are One”, taking place on YouTube in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises. This festival will have the particularity of offering content bringing together films from the festivals of Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, etc. This event is special because it offers the only way for movie-addicts to be able to experience these events. It is true that certain telecommunications companies such as Canal + offered each year, at the time of the Cannes Festival, a selection of films related to it. However, you had to be subscribed to access it. With the We are One festival, no subscription or registration required, the access to content is completely free.
Take another example, hackathons. A hackathon is an event organized over a few days, generally 3, which allows participants to think as a team in order to find creative solutions around an imposed theme. So far, this kind of event was only organized in "real" but with the rise of the epidemic, some companies, like Health Factory, created Hackathons a 100 % online, like the COVID19 Hackathon. This event was organized in order to find solutions to help the medical staff and the success was there: no less than 1,000 people were registered as a participant and there were also 5 projects that were carried out.
The experience of the 100% digital event is very interesting and we still have a lot to learn about and this explains the craze around the events created during the last weeks. For events like the webinars that are legion on Linkedin, it seems to be plausible that the optics of the 100% digital is maintained because this method allows us to attend more seminars and it even allows us to attend seminars having place on the other side of the planet.
Previously, we treated cinema but the field of music also proposed new types of concert and some of them were extremely creative! Take the example of "One World: Together at home" run by Lady Gaga. This musical show was organized to raise funds for the fight against COVID-19 and brought together dozens of artists such as Céline Dion, Billie Eilish and the Rolling Stones.
All of this encourages us to perceive digital as a means and not as an end. Digital will not replace real events but it can offer an alternative and in the near future, it will even allow events to become richer.
On the Kizano side, the team embarked on a digital version of Murder and Mystery organized over a week. This event brought together a hundred participants, more than half of whom were under 34 years old. This event allowed us to contribute to making the everyday life of the population less monotonous by offering this innovative puzzle game. This event allowed participants to communicate with each other by exchanging their hypotheses and their doubts about the investigation. It allowed them to forge links at a distance. Thanks to this event, our team became more united and above all, we understood that, on our scale, we can all do something that can help.