2020 Reflections and 2021 Game Planning
Take a collective sigh of relief - we made it through the 2020 mayhem, and the lights are still on. I am not the first person to refer to the past year as a dumpster fire, but I very much thought this graphic, especially in reference to the live event production industry, was fitting:
Covid ran rampant, decimating the live event industry and the hospitality industry as a whole. In my 25 years in the business, I have never seen anything like it. Thousands of businesses lost - Millions of colleauges out of work. Total and complete destruction of an industry I so very much deeply love.
The one saving grace for our company was the way we were able to pivot, and pivot quickly to Virtual and Hybrid Events. Our first Virtual Event was in April - a Virtual Fundraiser. This client had his annual fundraiser Gala booked at a rather large hotel, and overnight he was no longer able have a group of more than 10 people in the space. This group typically had 300 attendees. Taking it virtual was the only clear option, as this one event funds their nonprofit for most of the year!
This was a learning experience for all involved. A new frontier, if you will. We decided the best option would be for myself and an assist to travel to his home office, set up a small studio there onsite, and shoot him live - mixing in video and a host of pre-recorded content, then broadcasting to Zoom and Facebook simultaneously.
Just a little backstory - we anticipated the need for a full web broadcast capability in early March. As soon as events were starting to cancel, we decided to double down on technology and added the computing and software powerful enough to drive and stream any scale of event that may cross our path - thank goodness we did!
The fundraiser was an incredible success. The client actually raised more money virtually than they did at their in-person affair the previous year. This is a trend we saw throughout the remainder of 2020.
By the end of the year, we had produced over 30 Virtual/Hybrid meetings and live Gala's. Trial by fire we developed a great set of best practices and workflows for these events, and with the help of our partners at Red Apple Auctions, we have practically mastered the art of virtual real time live auctions via the Zoom platform.
Looking ahead to 2021 - We need to be optimistic, yet realistic when it comes to live and virtual/hybrid events. We are all relieved that the vaccine is here. It appears to be working, but it will take time.
What does this mean for events in the first half of 2021? We predict that Virtual will still be the path until at least the end of summer, and with the return of live events, we will still need to broadcast out to those who may not feel comfortable or physically able to make it. The future is hybrid.
2021 will be another year of unknowns - but we here at Access are ready for the challenge and eager to partner with you to make the best event possible! Be it streaming, hybrid, or full on live events - we have the equipment and talent to make it an unforgettable experience!
We are so very much looking forward to connecting with you all this year!
- Pete Maguire | Virtual Events Director