Although the live events market is still around 30% of what it was pre-COVID-19, the good news is there is more than light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Unlike last summer’s fake reopening, this one seems to be sticking. Companies like Walt Disney have canceled the mask mandates at all theme parks. Cities like New York, Chicago and even Los Angeles are planning to end mask requirements later this month. And, even the president asked schools to be “fully open.” These are all steps to an eventual off-rank to a more normal life.
But, with live events, life will likely never be normal again — and this is a big-time gain for AV rental and staging companies.
You see, before the pandemic, nearly every meeting planner was scared to death that streaming anything live would mean the end of the in-person attendee. No matter how many times we told them this wasn’t the case, the fear was inherent. The illogical logic was that if you allow people an option to virtually attend an event, they would pick the option, and the live event would die a rapid death. There was zero data to support this, but it was believed by even the best meeting planners on the planet.
But as the pandemic rolled through, the only option available became the virtual event. And, we helped many of you with our LAVNCH platform — in fact, we helped you deliver over 75 events in less than 18 months. But what we all learned is that virtual events blow compared to in-person events. No one prefers them unless you are afraid to fly. Literally — no one prefers them over live events. No one. Even meeting planners.
What meeting planners learned is what the live events industry had been telling them for over a decade: you should offer a hybrid component to every live event for those people who just can’t attend. But, streaming an event’s keynote, a few of the educations sessions or a house-of-worship service isn’t hybrid — that’s just, well, streaming. Anyone can do that with Facebook Live.
Where the opportunity lies is when we deliver a curated experience to the online audience, an experience that’s just for them. We tested this theory out in December when we delivered the live version of the Almo Pro A/V E4 Experience to an online audience using a service called LAVNCH HYBRID. In that case, we partnered with HB Live, and voila — the online audience was six times that of the live audience in Dallas. We didn’t just stream the content. We not only gave them a view of the show that only they could experience (allowing them onto the show floor hours before the live audience could attend), but we also had emcees that narrated the live event for the online audience with context and perspective. The audience stayed engaged and attended the entire day.
So, are you hybrid? Hybrid events offer an additional revenue stream that you can’t get with a live-only option. And, it’s not just streaming.