After two of the most transformational years for our industry we can now see some remarkable trends and revelations emerging. But what should we make of them?
The pandemic has clearly acted as an unprecedented accelerator for digital technologies in the events industry. Within weeks, organizers of events of all types and sizes – from local language lessons to global universities, street musicians to national opera houses – adapted to a new reality of streaming content online, managing guests digitally and communicating to attendees virtually.
Professionals learned quickly, and already over 90% of event organizers rate their own online experiences to be somewhat or very successful. Digital technologies drove safety, cost-effectiveness and data-driven event insights more than ever before, unlocking new opportunities for many KPIs.
But while organizers and attendees have gained new competencies for a new kind of event experience, this new digital standard highlights a surprising and timely conclusion:
Live events have never been more important than they are now.
Yes, really. The rise of virtual event culture has primarily enabled us to save time, reduce costly and strenuous travel and/or increase efficiency and data insights. But one particular KPI – and pretty much the soul, purpose, power and passion of the event industry – will remain to create the sensations, buzz and excitement of a live event. This KPI is nothing less than meaningful memories.
Because nothing matters more to us at zkipster.
And we’re not alone: a recent study asked people around the world what had been the most memorable experience of their lives. And the list was topped by… their first live concert. While this may sound surprising, given the many important events throughout our lifetimes, the science behind it is clear.
The sensory, social and emotional experience of a live event – the buzz, the familiarity, the face-to-face interaction with others, the interplay of smells, sounds and space – all combine to create positive, highly emotive memories.
Therefore, events that we are able to experience live have the potential to become more meaningful to us than ever before.
When we are not competing with others for virtual access to the same content, the multi-sensory journey, the social interaction – just being there – is becoming what we long for most, as an inspiring and immersive cure for screen fatigue. While this naturally applies to live entertainment events, it can also apply to other kinds of events, from conferences to business meetings to education, and can drive successful outcomes for attendees. According to the Harvard Business Review, physical, face-to-face interactions are indispensable for boosting efficiency and purposeful focus and providing opportunities for interpersonal bonding and deep learning, as well as driving creativity.
This is shown in some of the big event trends we’ve seen. According to a recent zkipster survey, for which we consulted high profile event professionals from our community, live events became smaller, increasing the intensity of face-to-face interactions and making individual experiences even more important.
Our clients have been able to tailor-make their events to their guests, constantly learning from the event data insights zkipster provides and using them to build more immersive, relevant experiences for their audiences.
Guest experience is always the focus. Events can be made more theatrical, with engaging, interactive and immersive ways to transform attendees from guests into participants, and creating a seamless, cohesive event experience, from digital check-in to post-event communication, will enable events to become brands in their own right. Organisers of live events in our network are constantly learning from formats that are usually experienced on-screen, such as movies and video games, while virtual events provide ideas for rich sensory experiences.
So, regardless of whether you are planning VIP launches, PR previews or gala dinners, the future of successful, memorable events is not about balancing a virtual/live strategy, but rather knowing which KPIs you want to focus on: gaining valuable first-party data, driving cost-effectiveness, and creating lasting, transformative and emotive memories for guests.
Whether it’s the unique chance to admire a master craftsperson at work at Louis Vuitton Savoir-Faire, the jubilant cheers and silent tension on Center Court at the US Open, glamorous moments during the Monaco Yacht Show, or wall-to-wall celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Museum Gala and GQ Men of the Year Awards, zkipster empowers passionate event professionals around the world to shape the future of events.
We enable our clients to create memorable and emotionally relevant live events (hybrid and virtual events too) that are also safe, efficient and data-driven.
When the world’s most sought-after art event, ArtBasel, fully reopened its doors to the international art audience for the first time since the pandemic began (many events taking place around the show were powered by zkipster) we were reminded of the true essence of art. It’s about being there; being in the physical presence of works of art, contextualised by the sounds, smells and people that surround them. Good memories are the currency we use to evaluate how we spend our time. Therefore live events are critical for creating such memories, and present opportunities for our industry that are now more attractive than ever.