I read and hear everywhere about the necessity for the event industry to “reinvent” itself after the COVID-19 crisis, to imagine new ways to bring people together, celebrate, create events that we speak.

I don’t believe in any miraculous idea which would be the long-awaited solution to the current difficulties of social distancing and public health. Even if I call it with all my wishes, I don’t think either in a “world-after” which would suddenly cleanse the wrong of the “world before” and would make us live better. This virus, like all others before, is here to stay. So, better to accept it for good and get used with the new constraints.
Of course, vaccines will be developed, protection rules will be implemented and we will gradually change some of our habits. But basically we are human and definitely social specie. We need to live in groups, to meet, to socialize, to exchange and not only virtually, this is how it has been since always.

The limits of the virtual

One of the good points of this global crisis that we are experiencing is finally to touch the limits of social medias and the supposed “wonderful” virtual world that the “GAFAM” have promised to us (Google / Amazon / Facebook / Microsoft), which, moreover, are emerging as big winners from this crisis.

Yes their technologies are fantastic tools and very useful, but they are only tools. The lock-down had at least showed this positive point to remind us how important it is for us humans to meet, talk , touch, feel each others and our condition of being a social specie.

This is undoubtedly one of the many reasons why the event and entertainment industries are so essential, because of the need to come together, discover and celebrate together. Therefore, contrary to technological prophets, I do not believe in everything virtual. If these technologies are otherwise great and provide great communication services, they ultimately only offer “clicks” and functionalities great for daily or weekly team works of families. But where is the meaning of “re-Unite”, where is the emotion!

So, virtual events? are they events, really?

This is precisely why I do not believe in the concept of “virtual event”!
There is nothing emotional today about looking at dozens of postage stamp-sized faces on a computer screen or watching a product launch on YouTube, this may not be an event, surely a plus, a unique spectacular video, but not an event. Emotion needs an audience celebrating side by side, sharing together.

But why to “re-invent”?

We already have so many tools, ideas, possibilities, creativity at our disposal…
How can we imagine to reinvent what has slowly evolved over centuries. Looking at it more closely: events have changed over the time, but we can see that ultimately, in their forms and contents they are not so much different than in the past, trade fairs are still an evolution of markets, gala dinners as old time banquets, local celebrations and festivals, weddings, networking evenings, shows, etc. All our today events have existed since the dawn of time…

Of course, they constantly have adapted and integrated the latest trends of their time, the invention of powder offered fireworks; the expertise of the sailors developer the stage techniques, rigs and special effects.

Today technology opens up new possibilities with video, mapping, drones, holographic projections (the principle of which has been known and used for centuries), but in the end, since always, all this is done to be “played” for a public.

We talk about “re-inventing” but shouldn’t we just say “adapting”?

For now, it will be necessary to be vigilant, imaginative and pro, and it is under these conditions that the top professional will be able to restart faster and take leadership by offering “Covid-Safe” events to their customers. Again I do not believe in the death of mass events any more than in the virtualisation of corporate events. I rather think that the entertainment and event industry will temporarily adapt while waiting for better days to finally find some of its pre-crisis failings.

The future of events, less, smaller and disruptive

This will probably generate fewer mass events than before for a while. But aside, smaller scale events of few hundreds people audiences, easier to implement and control the social safety. They will be strategically planned in advance and designed with a specific objective in mind. Most of all they will have to be disruptive to imagine new formats compatible with the new sanitary regulations.

For a time, the challenge will be the integration of security constraints health and social distancing, basically not very compatible with gathering public. But it is precisely about this that we will have to be inventive. To make these constraints acceptable or even playful we will have to imagine concepts where distancing may become an integrated experience.

For example, alternate entrance time for crowd control, replace a gala dinner with an wandering exhibit; change a Product Launch Showcase to a to a roadshow exhibition; a Fashion Show w

hose models would remain in their positions while the public “parade” the show; trade fairs with with redesigned sense of visit; there is no shortage of ideas, but they must be promoted and accepted by all the stakeholders.

A great opportunity, if we all do our part!

The post “Covid-19” is an amazing opportunity for both Professionals and Clients. Not to reinvent but to open our minds to change our mindset and to agree to leave out our comfort zones. even to break the codes:
– Professionals to develop your creativity with disruptive but responsible concepts,
– Clients to accept to break out habits and usual standards, and open minds to new ,and above all to trust the creativity of professionals

In conclusion

It seems pointless and even pretentious to ambition to revolutionize the event and entertainment industry. I think it is much more profitable to work on simple but effective proposals to both protecting the public and integrating them into innovative concepts, even if it means shaking up habits and routine.

We already have everything we need, as long as we keep our eyes wide open and finally dare to believe in new ideas, products and services that you wouldn’t have dared think about a few weeks ago.

It is under these conditions that we can reassure both public and authorities enough to be able to restart the business and even then, hope for a real change in depth.

Thierry Tombelle
Entrepreneur | Creative guide | Coach