As the world starts to reopen and the possibility of live/hybrid events starts to feel more real, we decided to talk to some experts on the topic of events. Shaun Hunter and Martina Margheri from Event 7 have been supporting our online Silicon Brighton events throughout the pandemic, removing the stresses that come with online meetings/conferences and delivering a professional finish.
We left Shaun and Martina with some of our burning questions around the events industry and the future of online, in-person and hybrid events post-pandemic.
What is Event 7 and how has the events industry changed since Covid-19?
Event 7 is a technical and event production company with over 20 years of experience in the events sector, successfully establishing a steady flow of a wide variety of clients, from world-famous music festivals to large conferences and creative production agencies.
The recent global vicissitudes have undoubtedly turned the entire event industry upside down, and we are witnessing a huge shift in which adaptation is key. Since March 2020, we have immediately picked up on the growing demand for viewership of OTT platforms and live streaming content, and have primarily focused our attention on Zoom technical support and virtual event production.
We have done extensive market research in this time, and struggled to find customisable platforms that enable clients to deliver uniquely branded experiences. So together we created S7REAM – a new live streaming business model aimed at creating custom-built and fully integrated digital event platforms. We hardcode your own virtual venue with unlimited server usage, access to simultaneous stages from one location and a user-friendly interface to give you full control over your digital events and content.
‘It’s always a pleasure to work with Event 7. Shaun does a superb job managing complex events ensuring all are extremely well organised and produced to a high creative standard. His communication is always speedy and he brings a fantastic can-do attitude. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Event 7’
Steve Rackley | Co-founder of Silicon Brighton & James Chase
Are there any tools or tips you could share for running online events?
If you are planning video conferencing or webinar style events:
Top of the list, but often underestimated, is ensuring a stable internet connection. There are many providers that offer reliable Sim Routers as a backup. Make sure you use Data Only Sims on a business contract as these will not be affected by the phone network and have a priority over standard contracts.
Plan ahead, book-in briefing sessions ahead of the event to minimise technical issues on the day.
Developing an event moderation plan with scripts, essential event information and links is an effective way to create a balanced and informative event.
Hosting an event, whether physical or virtual, is about connecting with your audience both as a whole and on a personal level.
Try and avoid “static” Zoom sessions by keeping the attendee view dynamic. Using well produced content – slides, video, music and making use of features such as multi spotlighting are key in creating a show.
Book a technician or virtual producer that has experience in live events. Having to deal with technical issues when trying to host an event is not only stressful but embarrassing.
‘Event 7 have been instrumental in the success of Marketing Talk ! The biggest challenge of running virtual events is the worry that a technical glitch will stop attendees from getting the best possible experience. Shaun has completely taken that worry away – ensuring everything set up and that our speakers feel comfortable knowing exactly what they need to do.’
Catherine Loftus | Host of Marketing Talk
Will virtual events be the new normal?
The live streaming industry is growing faster than ever, recording a 250% increase of live stream watch time in 2020. The global COVID-19 restrictions have without a doubt supersized the market, but it has become apparent that it was an already booming industry waiting to be triggered. A clear example of this pre-COVID trend was Coachella 2019, with the highest live viewership at about 82.9 million live views.
In our opinion, it is safe to say that even after the current crisis virtual events will keep growing in number and popularity. Consumers have become increasingly accustomed to watching video content from a mobile device or computer. Live streaming video content is no longer a trend but an expectation, and businesses are starting to take notice!
Let’s also not forget that virtual events can offer more inclusion to potential markets of people that couldn’t attend in person due to a range of parameters such as location, physical disabilities, or simply not enough money. Many of these audiences that have been disregarded as potential audiences prior COVID, are now being recognised as a new and strong market.
Are hybrid events the way forward?
Virtual events are certainly offering a way of subsidising losses in physical sales through a digital medium, but the significant psychological and social effects that the pandemic has had on the population are undeniable. Social distancing and security measures have affected the relationship among people and their perception of empathy toward others.
Events have always had a significant role in our society. They are powerful platforms that can have lasting positive impacts. Despite the fact that events have the capacity to be profitable, social gatherings are often planned and produced with the sole objective of delivering social interaction and human connection. This concept is not new to businesses. Experiential marketing is a clear example, creating direct engagement with consumers and creative experiences by interacting with them in a memorable way.
If we recognise the importance of socialising as one of the most basic human activities, it becomes impossible to believe that we will be confined to communicate only through a screen. Despite a rapid increase in social anxiety disorder due to COVID-19, consumers (people) will always prefer human interaction over a fully digitalised world, but this does not negate the growth of hybrid format events.
‘The quality that Event 7 delivers when producing the SCSC is hugely evident. Every event runs without hitch and the feedback from our attendees has been exceptional. By working with Event 7, it allows me to focus on delivering the content for my audience, while Shaun delivers the grade-A experience. I’d recommend Event 7 to any event organiser in a heartbeat.’
Ben Bennett | Host of South Coast Sellers Club
Where do you see the events industry in 6 months time?
Most physical events have already been postponed to 2022 with the hope that things will start going back to normal. The effectiveness of the numerous vaccination programmes will also have a global impact, and new regulations will certainly rule the market. There are too many factors that are totally out of our control, and it’s hard to make any prediction – even for an industry made of organisers, producers and project managers who are accustomed to draft many different scenarios and timelines.
Even though every country has different COVID-19 guidelines for both indoor and outdoor events, it’s undoubtedly going to be a slow process for everyone. Generally speaking there is enough evidence to suggest that there is a strong correlation between the population density and the severity of the restrictions, which are in turn affected by the number of infections.
We believe that by the end of 2021 we could start seeing some live events up to 500 people. Anything above that, it will either be an authorized experiment, or a highly regulated event. On the opposite spectrum, the live streaming industry is expected to be valued at $184.27 billion by 2027, seeing media, entertainment, education, wellness and esports as the biggest participants of the global live streaming market.