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#in2017 — A Wishlist For The Events Industry

Throwback from last year – Saurabh talks about the trends he anticipates the events industry will witness in 2017. Now that the year is past, in retrospect, what do you think of the 7 trends he spoke of a year ago?

So, my team asked me to put together a list of seven things which I would love to work on #in2017. It was a tough one. For two reasons. A, I love the new and I chase the new like a mad man. And B, the events industry has not seen any huge innovations since we learnt how to put up a stage. After all, there is a stage, a backdrop (or a LED screen), there is AV equipment and there’s entertainment. Most things that we see are a permutation and combination of these basics. And the way things are going, I am not sure if there are any great innovations around the corner (except a few ‘shows’ that take months and months of planning and execution — The BMW 100 years for example).

So, what are the odds that I’d get to work on new things? I don’t know. But it doesn’t stop me from making a list. So here are the 7 things that I want to work on #in2017.

1. VR / AR

VR is already impacting businesses. In 2017 we will see VR going mainstream with events. Right now, if I need to make an impact, I put a huge LED screen or I do things like holographic presentations, presentations on projections mapped to buildings, interactive presentations, giant sets and so on and so forth. But I am yet to see someone use VR to deliver an experience that takes the breath away.

Of course, we’ve already executed a couple of projects in 2016 but we could have done lot more with the experience, the output and the content. As we get into 2017, clients will start demanding VR as a tool for events. And may be at someone point in time when technology becomes affordable, content becomes cheaper to produce and clients start taking larger risks, may be AR.

I think for the events industry, VR will be the buzzword of 2017, as digital has been 2013 onward for the mainline communication business.

P.S.: We have this white-paperish report on VR that we put together for a client. In case you are interested, please send me an email and I will be happy to share.

2. Move away from song and dance routines to serious business communication

As an events agency, I will be called upon to deliver serious business messages rather than creating MICE interventions where all they need is a stage.

Most of the work that I’ve done since 2010 has been in the entertainment space. Product launches, RnR, incentives, team-building interventions and even conferences have a large component of entertainment built in. The size of the impact of the event is measured by the grandeur of the celebrity attending your event. The success is measured by the late hour you let the DJ go back to his room.

But #in2017, I would like to work on an event where I am engaged to deliver a business message and there is no entertainment at all. Not even as lip-service. No, not even a DJ. Maybe some recorded music for when they walk up on the stage, but that’s it.

So, I think, as we evolve, an event agency will have to change gears to become an true experiential agency and will need to acquire skills on brand, communication and strategy. The skills that have got you here (a great client servicing team, a fantastic crew with years of experience with event production) will not take you far in the time to come.

3. Gamification

So far, most events have remained very plain jane when it comes to exploiting behavioural psychology. Compare it to other pieces that you create. When I do a TVC, I do a scratch version, I do a storyboard, I do a FGD.

However when I do an event, I recommend a few options to the client. They take a call on the basis of their experience, I put an experienced, familiar crew together and produce the event.

I do not do anything that elevates the experience on the basis of their participation. #in2017, I wish to do an event where I encourage attendees to perform an action and “earn” a better experience.

Bad example would be, at a RnR event, the attendee that can answer a set of questions about the company gets to seat with the CEO during the Gala Dinner.

Now, that kind of facetime with the leader, it’s something that you would give an arm and a leg for. No? I would.

4. Become a revenue centre as compared to cost centre

I am not hinting at putting a kiosk and running a sampling campaign. I am talking about producing an event, communicating the brand promise and then getting the customer to actually make the purchase. I want to be yet another sales channel for my clients.

For example, let’s take the Auto Expo. Car manufacturers spend a fortune putting up fancy booths and showcasing their forthcoming launches. They do lead generation, they invite customers for test drives, they do spot bookings and so on and so forth. What if we could extend this to all forms of events? And not just exhibitions, but other events.

Also, at events like Auto Expo, while the budget comes from the marketing’s kitty, the accolades are taken by the sales teams. So, #in2017, I would love to work on a project where the sales team spends the money, uses me as a sales channel and reaches to more customers than a business currently is.

5. Emergence of technology in how we run events

This is two in one. Piece one is technology and piece two is mobile. Most of the events I do and plan to do, the audience is affluent, upwardly mobile and urban. So, I want to work on something where a mobile plays an important role.

Currently, I use mobile to manage the event (to manage logistics, participant registration, scheduling of sessions etc), to get feedback during (or after) an event and to deliver tailored content (whatsapp, VR etc).

The question is, what all can I do with technology in events as I go along? Especially on mobile. Any ideas?

6. Agencies start offering a tightly integrated digital and on-ground activation services

We have seen some interesting examples of what is possible if you mix online and on-ground. You build a property purely by the experience you deliver and communication you create (a la NH7), you do extensive online promotion to get an audience to pay through their pockets (Global Citizen Festival), you ask people to share things that they see at an activation on their social handles (a million examples if not more), you invite attendees to live-stream from an event venue (blah, blah and more blah) and much more.

#in2017, I would love to work on a project where it is as much an online property as it is an on-ground one. I don’t know the shape it will take but I can hazard a guess that it will involve extensive use of technology and will probably fly with the millennials rather than us echo-boomers.

One of the ideas that we came up with during one of our workshops is of a virtual marathon. You put on your VR glasses, plug in a pedometer and you run on your treadmill. While competing with other runners that are running an actual marathon!

You have more ideas? Mail me! I am at sg@c4e.in.

7. Respect

And finally, all of the above will come together to help the events industry find a respectable place in the marketers wishlist.

Right now, for most clients, events and activation is the last thing they think about (the first, in India is a film. Even if they go digital first, they think film. And then there is print, digital, radio, outdoor etc.). Events, well. They throw breadcrumbs at you. And there are so many of us trying to hustle to chip at those morsels.

So yeah! That’s about it. Lets see how many of these 7 do I get to work on. What about you? What do you want to work on #in2017? As an event professional? As an attendee? Please do share. Helps me understand how to plan and prepare for the future.

Thank you for reading this.

Oh, one more thing. In case you have an idea that you think we can work on together, please do email me.

This piece was originally posted on C4 Events on Medium by Saurabh Garg

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