EVENTS – WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Throughout history, there have been events. Dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years, events are how we remember key moments in history.

Many events occur for reasons out of our control – from the humble birthday, to a scorching hot summer, but to embrace the spirit of the moment we’ve learned to celebrate them in the best ways possible. But for decades we’ve also devoted time, energy and money into manufacturing events; awards ceremonies, product launches, announcements, celebrations, opening and closing parties, hedonism… you name it, there’s likely to be an event for it. International Sushi Day anyone?

Change means change

This year, we’ve had to change many aspects of how we live, how we work, and how we do business. And in business, one of the sectors to really feel the impact is the events business. For the foreseeable future, we’re not going to be traveling to large conference venues, or mingling with strangers, or sitting in rooms full of rows of seats packed so tightly you’re practically sat on your neighbour’s lap. We’re not going to be wandering into beautifully crafted entrance foyers, or plan rise with row upon row of exhibitors, all with their professionally crafted display stands and their sharp, bright sales people, eager to demonstrate their innovative product to you. We’re not going to be witness to the dramatic music to open the keynote speech, or the 90 seconds of visual effect on screen that took months of planning, design and late nights in the office to fine–tune. We’re not going to be able to network with others at the event in whatever way suits our individual personalities, or have an informal chat over a drink at the end of the day.

Or are we?

An event should be an event

Ever since the world of business turned virtual, people have scrambled to try and turn the physical, into the virtual. Tens, if not hundreds of platforms now exist to run ‘virtual events’, all promising to emulate the physical events experience, but, like many things in life, whilst they all look good on paper, in practice they’re simply not the magic bullet to creating an event, digitally.

Yes, technology is part of the solution, but it isn’t the solution.

A few weeks ago, we launched Podium, a new Immersive Digital Events Design service. Podium was born from two key observations:

1. Virtual events don’t have to be, nor should they be a direct translation of the physical events experience – because the beauty with digital is you can pretty much create whatever you want. You’re not constrained by the size, shape or location of the venue.

2. Just because an event is digital, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have investment into the craft that its physical cousin receives.

What we’ve noticed is that, in the rush to either transform physical events into virtual ones, or create new virtual events, people seem to have forgotten the above. Large scale events planned for thousands of attendees, with well–rehearsed presenters standing on grand stages, with beautifully produced graphics for their backdrops have become the equivalent to a rainy day in Slough. People presenting in their baseball caps, in messy rooms, with a glib PowerPoint presentation, droning on for half an hour, with little to no audience engagement.

See the problem?

Where’s the craft?

Where’s the planning?

Where’s the production value?

Where’s the event?

The answer is simple

As a brand manager, or anyone responsible for holding an event, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why are you holding this virtual event?

2. Who’s it for?

3. Why will people bother attending?

4. What are you doing for it that’s going to keep their attention?

5. What are you prepared to invest to make it as good, if not better than the physical one you were planning this time last year?

These are the questions we ask any prospective Podium client, because these indicate whether the aspiration is there to create a virtual event, or in fact, it’s really just a webinar, or a piece of on-demand video that’s needed. To add, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these things, but they’re not an event, nor should they be considered as a viable alternative to one.

Still think it’s an event you’re after? Call us

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile