I gave a talk last night to the Latvian events industry in a little town called Ventspils on the Baltic coast.
Sometimes when I give a talk, it is on a subject I know inside out. Sometimes, I have to get to know the industry first, using my Intersections tool to analyse its pressure points and understand the likely impact of the big vectors of change. If I’m speaking to a new industry in a foreign country? Well, let’s just say it’s reassuring when my hypotheses are confirmed by the audience’s reaction.
I put it to the audience last night that the reason for the continuing — and in fact growing — success of live events (both popular arts and business), is about the bandwidth of communication between human beings. This bandwidth, across the multiple channels of our senses, remains exponentially greater in a live, physical environment when compared to any form of alternative media, however rich.
If anything, the increasing prevalence of digital media, in incredible volumes, has actually enhanced the value of live events. Just as the prevalence of email has made real mail more exciting, and the rise of the MP3 has created a boom in vinyl, a more tactile format.
This isn’t to say that the events industry doesn’t face challenges. Technologies continue to advance and increase the bandwidth of the experience that they deliver, as we saw this week with the delivery of the first Oculus Rift to a consumer.
Technology also underpins the increasing choice of events that consumers can access, reducing the friction of organisation through intermediary platforms like Meetup, Eventbrite and Fatsoma. Combine this with the many ways of reaching consumers and the growing noise across the many channels of communication, and making an event economically successful will be increasingly difficult.
As a counterbalance, there is the opportunity to re-market the content created at live events as many organisers are now doing. Streaming passes for business conferences, or recordings of live DJ sets as enabled by new start-up Evermix.
Overall then, it’s a positive picture. But to realise this ideal, the events industry must like every other, be highly adaptive, capable of latching onto new trends and meeting customer demand while it lasts, before moving on to the next big thing.
You can access my slide deck here. Use your arrow keys to navigate. You may want to zoom in our out depending on the size and format of your screen.