Courtesy of Eventcube – Eventcube founders Kieran Alington (left) and Wil Troup.
England has reopened for business, but there have never been more uncertainties surrounding the realities of attending live events in the future. While governments are currently debating the types of entry requirements that’ll get ticket buyers through the gates, proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test are already becoming widely accepted mandates.
Thus, the list of people excluded from attending physical events expanded from fans, who cannot make the journey for various reasons, to fans, who cannot or don’t want to get vaccinated or get a test each time they want to enjoy live entertainment. For them, virtual events may be the only alternative.
Moving online was the only way for most artists and promoters to stay in business over these past 18 months. UK white label ticketing service Eventcube conducted a study among 50 event managers and organizers from its client base to gather data on how the restrictions on live gatherings impacted their virtual strategy.
The survey’s participants represent a cross-section of industries, from music festivals to corporate conferences and most things in between. They were asked a series of questions about their experience hosting and managing events over the last 12 months.
– 70% of participants in Eventcube
According to Eventcube, this marks “a sea change in how events will be run.”
The majority of respondents (81%) had no experience hosting virtual events previous to the pandemic. It chimes with Pollstar’s own interviews, in which many promoters had explained how they had wanted to expand their events by adding a virtual aspect to the offer for a long time, and how the restrictions imposed in reaction to coronavirus were the reason they finally did. The fact that 70% of participants in Eventcube’s survey said, they would continue to host virtual events post-pandemic represents “a sea change in how events will be run,” according to the survey’s findings. “It proves that virtual events have in the most part been a huge success, so much so that they will become a vital part of the future of the events industry.”
35% of respondents consider the ease of access and thus potentially higher attendance the main benefit of virtual events. 53.2% saw growth in their worldwide audience, while 53.4% saw the number of international attendees rise. Meanwhile, 17.5% believe virtual is less demanding on the team, and costs less overall.
Marguerite Peck of UK music event organizer Winter French, said, “We definitely see the value in virtual events, for increasing audiences etc. Particularly if guests are reducing their travel, however we would encourage a hybrid model where possible, particularly where networking is a key element of the event’s success.”
The need to come up with an alternative to in-real-life (IRL) events is shown by the steep drop in respondents, who ran more than 100 events annually pre-COVID. That percentage dropped from 12.5% to just 4.2% after the virus struck. 75% said they decreased their event budgets since the pandemic, even with savings on hiring sites and physical logistics, confirming just how much of an impact on business the restrictions have had.
Others, like KTX, one of the leading broadcasters and media companies in the Philippines, where restrictions were particularly strict, even increased the number of events by moving them online. Hedda Ocampo, head of KTX.ph, commented, “before the pandemic virtual events were not yet fully 100% accepted by Filipino audiences. We had limited clients who were confident in mounting their events on KTX. [Then] people started to embrace the new normal and we mounted more and more events. It was an amazing year for KTX, we have never hosted so many events, even before the pandemic.”
The list of companies surveyed also includes Stoke Newington Lit Festival, the Middlesex County Cricket Club, which hosted a number of events including their AGM online, and award-winning audio-visual and live event content producers TBI Media, who utilized Eventcube to produce Tik Tok’s first virtual festival, Red Bull’s internal conferencing summit and others.
Then there’s London drawing school Wild Life Drawing, which saw an immense increase in attendees from all over the world since offering online classes. “There’s no two ways about it, if the technology hadn’t been there for us to continue Wild Life Drawling classes online, the business wouldn’t have survived the last 18 months at all. However, not only have we made it through, but we’ve seen an immense increase in attendees and from all over the world. Where we were normally limited by capacity based on the room size, we can now allow up to 250 budding artists who are logging from Europe, the US, Canada and all over the UK. So we’ve gone from a local and limited offering, to accommodating 10 times what we were before at a totally international level,” Wild Life Drawing founder Jennie Webber told Pollstar.
Eventcube founders Wil Troup and Kieran Alington told Pollstar: “Last year, all events companies had to adapt and innovate. Our clients were forced to transition to virtual formats, each of them looking for services which would allow them to sustain their operations – from small grassroots charities looking for online ways to hold fundraisers to house-hold brand names running multinational training days.
“We, like them, have had to re-think our approach and service strategy, ensuring that our software reflects the needs and dynamics of the current market. It was crucial for us to explore and dig deep into the means of delivery – gathering feedback, analyzing the expectations of providers and collaborating with a variety of business sectors to assess what’s worked and what hasn’t. Their opinions offer crucial guidance and insight into what might come next and we are excited to be a part of that.”