The future turned out to be closer than it is customary to talk about it.
Once this should have happened, no one imagined that the same “some time” will happen now. The Ukrainian event industry has actually collapsed, which should not be surprising. Nevertheless, among the entertainment industry players, some managed to stay afloat during a severe storm. But what will happen next, in our event “the day after tomorrow”? How to restore your business? When will the economy improve?
2:0 in favor of COVID-19 or how we screwed up our business
In Ukraine, you often have to listen to the same story at different times: as soon as the business got better, a big … problem came along. Yes, our country’s economy continues to be weak and very vulnerable. At the same time, it is perhaps quite naive to expect stability in the era of globalization. The modern world is changing rapidly, and it is sometimes difficult to predict what the next turn will be. This was colorfully displayed in 2020. It turned out that a world without borders can effectively exchange goods and services and viruses. Based on historical experience, it becomes shocking that COVID was a big surprise for humanity.
We overestimated our importance and our power too much. This made us giddy and vulnerable. The event industry is no exception. We didn’t want to think that all good things should come to an end. BUT! The end is an opportunity for beginnings. In times of crisis, it is important to be pragmatic. No matter how bitter it is, for something new to appear, you must abandon something old. This process is essential for development.
In 2019, the Ukrainian entertainment business was able to recover from the crash of 2014-2015. 2020 was supposed to be a stage of full development. But would it have happened if not for COVID? I am not sure about this.
The fact is that the event market has become overblown. Most likely, after a few years, it would have been destroyed by inflation. Perhaps not so bad that COVID-19 has done this job earlier. Thus, we bought time.
A crisis always removes ineffective business from the game. Well-structured companies stay afloat at all times.
In recent years, the domestic event market has been flooded with random people who, according to them, love to make holidays. Those who wanted easy and cheerful money turned out to be just as easy and cheerful.
Now, after the global quarantine, each of us must reconsider the approach. The world began to change a long time ago, but we remained the same. Continuing in the same spirit, we will be mired in losses. Those who are still in business and those who want to return to it need to learn the big crisis lessons. What are they?
Let’s revive the market with optimism and inspiration!
Ukrainians are afraid to take risks.
Virtualization of events in Ukraine could be much more efficient if we wanted to be creative. Ukrainian commercial art, in contrast to pure art, prefers to remain traditional, fearing experimentation. Experimenting is a risk, and few clients and agencies are willing to take risks for their money. But is business possible without risk? Probably yes, but this is a semblance of business. Actually, for this reason, the industry sank in 2020.
Traditionally, domestic event management profs blame consumers for their uniqueness. Indeed, when it comes to corporate events, the client most often prefers cowboy, pirate, and other thematic “understandable” parties. Fresh ideas, as they were, do not take root very much. All sorts of “gatsby” and “Oscars” have been widespread for decades. Still, they rarely impressed the audience as far as to move the audience of the customer’s company somewhere even a millimeter further than “dress up, eat, drink, dance, and take pictures.”
The reason is not at all the quality of the format or the creativity. The problem is that a format or creative is rarely correlated with the specifics, goals, direction, and objectives of the business concerning a particular project’s audience. The audience must be imbued with the concept at every level, in every moment of the event, so that its perception and consciousness shift in the direction necessary for the business. Briefs to imbue with such tasks and the audience’s specifics will rarely help (in practice, never). The client can often not tell all about himself in detail sincerely, especially within the framework of a dry standard questionnaire. He does not understand (and should not) what exactly we – event managers need to know.
As you know, the success of an event is determined by the involvement of visitors. To achieve such a result, you yourself need to be involved in the audience environment. Before planning the concept of a corporate party or a conference for employees, you should spend some time at the enterprise and feel what the company employees breathe and how they interact. How many have done this? How many were allowed to observe?
If a product (concept, event) is not in demand, it is an irrelevant offer and not a customer or low income.
Our passivity created a stagnation that turned into a collapse.
Event virtualization, which we began to introduce and copy only recently abruptly, has long been developed in the West. The online format can be even more profitable and more interesting than we used to think. But finally, we were kicked out of our comfort zone. Now we have received an iron argument to warm up in creating new ideas, formats, and mechanics.
Pandemic Trends: Where Has Online Taken Effectively?
Despite a tough lockdown, in the spring of 2020, some of the tour companies managed to generate income from unexpected experimental sources. As it turned out, a virtual tour can be more interesting thanks to unique multimedia materials that are inconvenient to demonstrate during a familiar walk. Besides, the virtual format allows you to gather a large audience due to cost reduction and universal availability. Many people want interesting information while maintaining their comfortable environment. Only with the help of virtual technologies can you walk through the Parisian catacombs, staying in an apartment in Cherkasy with a bowl of popcorn or a mug of coffee.
The Internet is shrinking space, and its opportunities must be actively used. Virtual tours and training courses have increased their earnings while reducing the cost of participation while attracting a much larger audience. What is there to hide? Perhaps many of us wanted to bury ourselves in a pillow, sitting at lectures on history or sociology. Now there is such an opportunity, and it is charming.
This practice will evolve and improve. The public will be especially interested in excursions to those places that are difficult to get to, for example, the Verkhovna Rada, the Office of the President, or the Mariinsky Palace. Training or refresher courses in the main or creative specialty. Some event formats can also be included in the corporate events program. The main thing is an interesting and professional presentation and accessibility to a wide audience.
Unlike the aforementioned formats, online festivals are unlikely to expand widely in the coming years. Yes, virtualization helps to gather a large audience. Still, the current generation loves festivals because of the lively emotions and unique energy of a mass of people united by a common passion. One unique example of an online festival is One World: Together at Home, organized by WHO to support medical professionals. He gathered an audience in a moment of crisis that found an unprecedentedly large audience in a minimal space of his own homes and a minimal space of a general information bubble of anxiety. Headliners performed from their homes, allowing the public to see their favorite performers in an informal setting. At the same time, this also emphasized the general limitation in space and thoughts.
In the current state of the world, it will hardly be possible to repeat such a wave of emotional unity of many people online.
Video game concerts are another example. The viewer can attend the show as an avatar. Unusual characters who can screech, jump or wave a flashlight under the “slow” at the touch of a button is also remarkable know-how. With its help, a kind of “movement” and the effect of presence are created. At the same time, the artist’s avatar and his actions on stage remain close to reality.
Obviously, this trend will continue in the circle of young people who have been living with powerful gadgets, computer games, and digital communication from the cradle. It is quite possible that the sensations that we are used to considering the exchange of energies and emotions will acquire a transformation among new generations and will be felt by them through digital instruments.
It should be noted that the group’s usual performance in the studio or against the background of a banner is not particularly interesting for a purely virtual broadcast for both the artist and the audience. The reason is the banality of such a campaign and the lack of feedback. This trend of the era of self-isolation will not gain tangible popularity in the foreseeable future.
We often hear how people are now afraid of shaking hands and hugging. It is said that many Britons have even given up sex. But what is really happening?
Despite the development of online events and the Ministry of Health’s recommendations, small clubs continued to host parties. Hundreds of people gathered at them. From the end of January, small establishments began to work especially actively. There are even more visitors. No doubt people will be eager to go to concerts and festivals this year. The audience missed social connections and past entertainment. But this does not mean that the formats do not need to be improved. After all, 1 virus showed us how it could take everything away from society. It is necessary to have effective backup mechanisms and diversify risks right now while simultaneously developing new industries and directions.
When travel abroad has become sharply limited, a niche of entertainment events for the B2C audience is also emerging since domestic tourism, experiencing a boom, remains mostly in an underdeveloped state. And while tourist units are working on creating the necessary modern service infrastructure, event specialists have a niche of entertainment points of attraction in various interesting places.
Also, do not forget about the trends that were strengthening before the pandemic. Many of them remain relevant. In particular, the following should be highlighted.
Why do people go to concerts and parties? They want to break away from everyday reality. The event, prepared with an understanding of the audience, according to a consistent concept with various thematic impressions and interactive zones, evokes lively emotions. The thrill is the bait that keeps the audience on your hook. Remember the film “Belle Epoque” – its entire plot is built on the organization of a series of events that entertained the audience and literally changed the attitude towards life.
In this direction, there are practically no restrictions for fantasy. In addition to authentic festivals and reenactments, you can develop an infinite variety of plot options and activities, and it is only important to address them to a specific audience. Personalization of experiences is gaining in importance.
New technologies always arouse great interest and a lot of emotions. The performances of Ukrainian technology providers, multiplied by the directors’ talent and the creativity of ideas, have repeatedly impressed the audience on a global scale. As described above, the technique and special effects do not convey energy and emotions. Still, they can significantly enhance the effect of a creative technique and even create it.
Reasonable consumption is a requirement of the times, which the Western world diligently fulfills. Ukraine, as a part of it, must also follow a useful trend. Modular or lighting decorations, recyclable or natural materials, reusing elements, avoiding plastic wherever possible, etc. Install sorting bins at the event and inform attendees.
Remember: people are children of nature, not asphalt. Therefore, we like outdoor events. Ecology must be taken into account at the stage of creating a creative concept. A metaphan in an open space is an as bad idea as launching thousands of rubber balloons into the sky.
Banal drinking is something that any employee of any company can organize. Moreover, you can spend time in this way outside of corporate events.
More and more people strive to spend time both fun and useful. Western business and more and more Ukrainian companies prefer to hold informal seminars, conferences, and forums in fun and editorial format to improve education, qualifications, and emotional uplift and motivate employees instead of “classic” corporate events.
Everything done at the corporate level should aim at the formation, development, and enhancement of culture, both corporate and universal. It’s nice that recent constructive corporate events have been gaining more and more popularity in Ukraine.
Personal involvement in good deeds exalts a person and makes him feel better. Corporate philanthropy with the individual participation of the team makes the company more united.
Increasingly, like corporate events, joint activities are held with people who need support. Any charitable project organized by the company’s team becomes a part of the personal history of the “best self” for each employee and his social circle.
This trend received a massive boost at the height of the pandemic. Severe crises and shocks always mobilize people significantly to help the most affected parties together.
The most important trend
Note that we must consider the general trends, but it is even more essential to create your own. Now is an excellent time to start your movements and build audiences for your directions. Take, for example, the same Clubhouse as the reimagined radio or podcasts with Zoom.
There is no point in many providers, mechanics, technologies, or concepts if they duplicate each other. Competitiveness in a “stormy” market is possible based on either the absolute uniqueness of the product’s quality or the lowest cost. The “middle class” is doomed to suffer tremendous losses in such circumstances.
Remember, the event industry, among other things, creates and develops culture. Let it be perceived and progressive. Join this process!
Economic component: when will the event market be cured of covid?
Experts compare the crisis of 2020 with the crisis of 2008-2009. It took the leading states about 5 years to recover from it. According to analysts, after the pandemic, the world economy will catch up much faster. The optimistic forecasts speak for a period of fewer than 3 years. But the real terms depend on the actions of the authorities on a global scale (and they are still unclear) and the activity of the business in communications with governments.
Now our government is talking about tax cuts and the introduction of business benefits. The West exerts some pressure in this direction on the government. Of course, Ukraine needs to raise its economy, which began to sink back in 2019. The current situation can play in the interests of business.
More than ever, entrepreneurs must now insist on their rights and benefits. The authorities do not know how to cope with the crisis, so there is a high probability that with active, systematic, and reasonable work on entrepreneurs, politicians will finally create a favorable environment for business. We must believe in it; we must fight for it.
Obviously, Ukrainian event profs need to cooperate more closely and productively and unite in specialized public organizations. The time of blind competition is over. Civil society can also change the political landscape in the long term.
Let’s revive the market with optimism