COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the world of events, but it is still early to have real visibility. No doubt, however, that over time, we will return to physical events because nothing replaces LIVE and the quality of meetings in-person. And all that we have learned, developed and implemented in the meantime will allow us to go even further, to design and create “augmented” events by optimizing the use of digital and new technologies.
The complete stop of events created a lack. In France, a study carried out by Weezevent and Ifop among the general public in June revealed that 9 French people out of 10 normally take part in events, and 93% of them declare that they are missing these activities. 100% of them will go to such events again, and 67% say they will return even within a few weeks if allowed. These figures clearly show the French people’s appetite for events. In Switzerland, where the business community is obviously also very active, the numbers should be very close to these.
The confinement linked to COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalization of the event universe, and if certain events are easily transposable into live video (such as conferences, general meetings), digital does not apply to all events. Imagine an incentive or a corporate end-of-year party entirely online… The 100% digital has its limits: it cannot generate the emotion, the bond, the alchemy created by the physical encounter. It certainly allows to multiply the audience and reduce costs, but has neither the same impact, nor the same memorization. It is imperative to bring our creativity and event know-how to succeed in making an impression. And who wants to spend their life on Zoom for aperitifs and festivals alone on their sofa?
Even if digitalization does not offer the possibility of acting emotionally as strongly as in a live situation, it does on the other hand offer new possibilities (wider audience, easier interactions, availability in multiple rooms, e-commerce connection, etc) reducing costs, distances and uptime for participants. These arguments are particularly valid in times of recovery, economic tension and busy agendas.
Companies have a real need to communicate with their audiences, reconnect with their customers, and restore meaning, even if it must still remain in whole or in part virtual. The COVID crisis has highlighted the need for responsibility and solidarity. 90% of French people expect brands to get involved. With this in mind, agencies like ourselves have designed ideas for experiences that are always positive but also more responsible. Events that consume few environmental resources, by mixing face-to-face and digital, and which also integrate sanitary measures.
Vitalis Events is ready to take briefs of high-quality digital events. Together with our trusted service providers, we are developing new functionalities to meet the expectations of customers in terms of great e-Experiences. Last month, we carefully orchestrated the inauguration of major headquarters in Morges, Switzerland, for a large biotech company specializing in oncology. This hybrid live and digital event was a success, and was very encouraging in terms of our ability to cater effectively to this new service, that is very much in demand.
For companies there is still some ambivalence, between a real need for customers to reconnect with event communication but also a real difficulty for them to project themselves in the near future due to the economic and social impact of the crisis and the vagueness regarding the possibility of bringing together their public.
We are integrating more and more digital today. We will see increasingly hybrid events mixing face-to-face and digital or multi-site. Digital events will have to be amazing, ultra-scripted and participative (otherwise it will be boring). However, the recovery will be made by the return of live events to recreate social ties and giving life to the economy. Putting people back in the center will drive the recovery.
The key to success remains creativity. A strong idea, a “never seen before” concept, a desirable story, a relevant choice of speakers and performers, are the keys, whether live or digital, to speak to a target audience.
We are made to live in a group, the event is a must in our social life, and will be all the more so with the need for meaning that this crisis has amplified. Great events will mix exceptional live content as the main feature, with digital and social content. This is the future of event management.