The event is reinventing itself: New trends or ephemeral solutions?

5 minutes read

Let’s face it, pandemic and events don’t go well together. We’ve been in this industry for almost a decade and, as with many colleagues, we all agree that we are facing a challenging year. Luckily, knowing how to adapt to last-minute changes is one of the most recognized skills in the event management field.

It’s all about the mindset, and we are all working in the same direction as well as focusing our energy on finding solutions to pave the way for the novelty of this disturbance.

Amusement, quality, security, authenticity, we all have to reinvent ourselves to keep our businesses alive. Numerous companies and events have quickly adapted their practices to the new constraints with brio and micro-experiences are now the talk of the town.

Emotion generator or temporary distraction ? New trends or ephemeral solutions ? What are the new trends in the events industry that will survive the pandemic ? Can we learn positive things during a global crisis ? What are the promising methods to bounce back ?

Photo : Francis Gagnon – Le festif

Baie St-Paul tries micro-experiences

With an annual attendance of more than 40,000 people, its notoriety is well established : Le Festif de Baie St-Paul. Clément Turgeon definitely did not believe that his idea of a festive evening with a few (!) drinks would have become a well-known festival that would put his small municipality on the map for over a decade. Baie St-Paul Festif and its population did not anticipate that its 11th edition would be impacted by a global pandemic.

In solution mode, they created «Les sessions d’écoute du Festif». A unique opportunity to discover exclusive Quebecois songs and albums that have never been released in a cozy atmosphere. The participant attends  different beautiful outdoor places, whether by the Saint Lawrence River, in a park, the forest or even in a field, to listen to the artists’ songs using headphones. They created the perfect set-up to appreciate music.

The experiment doesn’t stop here. In the background; the participant has access to the artist’s thoughts. Via a narrative framework, the artist explains their creative process and their tracks. This is awesome but a little something was missing…food and beer, right? This aspect is also covered with an interesting offer of micro beers and regional products from Charlevoix. The idea is incredibly good and simple to execute. It  also respects the various health measures decreed by the government.

Unfortunately, the second micro-experimental initiative of the Festif, «La petite affaire», a series of intimate micro-shows  had to be canceled in connection with the general complaisant attitude toward the compliance with health guidelines. We are confident to say that the team must bitterly be reminded of the pilgrimage of thousands of people from Quebec of past editions. They dream of returning to the concept of their previous editions.

Photo : Eva Blue – Fauv 2020

New kinds of experiences

New concepts have also emerged in the midst of this turmoil. FAUV, a stand-up comedy festival that reminds us of the drive-in movie theatre – but with a show instead of a movie – had a very successful first weekend at the Montreal-Trudeau airport. Everyone was happily surprised, even the organizers. In total, it was approximately 4,000 spectators who participated in this new kind of comedy show. There were no guarantees of success and it was a bold gamble : getting hundreds of cars (and just as many people) to get to the airport to enjoy a comedy show in their car… that’s gutsy. With this success, it seems that the Quebec public is in need of entertainment and that’s understandable after a period of hibernation almost as long as the bear! “It’s not the same energy as in a room full of people that’s for sure but I was pleasantly surprised,” acknowledged Étienne Dano. It’s not a natural process to watch a show from a car, neither for the artist nor for the public, but at least it fuels the nostalgia of the time we were shouting in the ear of our neighbour to tell him how much we were enjoying the show ! The FAUV team hopes that the audience will be there to the next happening but nothing can be taken for granted. Stay tuned !

Photo : David Marcu

Sporting Challenges : all together, all at home

On the sporting level, we have seen the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie, a notorious philanthropic event, also get cancelled. They came with the idea of a virtual challenge : accumulate 1 million kilometres by collectively joining forces. Mission accomplished for Pierre Lavoie’s team : 67,101 participants have travelled more than 2 million miles !

Similar formula was activated for the Ultra-Trail Harricana, a major mountain running competition. They also focused on the individual with The Lone Wolf Harricana Challenge. The runners compete against other competitors by clocking their best time on the 28 km and 10 km runs via running applications, all summer long. It is possible to run the race in small groups but the runners need to respect the sanitary guidelines put in place. A grand finale will take place on the weekend of September 12-13th with the participants who clocked the fastest times.

Photo : Mike Palmowski – TOMORROW LAND

Digital festivals

It’s interesting to see what’s going on abroad too like the Tomorrowland festival. Facing the global demand to find any alternative given the current situation, they decided to create an entirely new virtual platform through which visitors can participate in a two-day festival experience. Visitors will be able to navigate easily in a virtual place accessible with a computer, smartphone or tablet. Like other editions of Tomorrowland, the music and shows will be at the heart of this event. The festival will offer numerous scenes and in order to create more hype, this year’s central scene embodies « 2020, The Reflection of Love – Chapter 1 » which will be unveiled to the world in a special Tomorrowland Around the world program.

In addition to the performances there will be all kinds of interactive experiences to choose from including inspiring webinars, games and lifestyle workshops. So we’re talking about a total reinvention of the festival experience while keeping the spirit of Tomorrowland alive ! They even invite the participant to dress in their most beautiful festival outfit, set up tents in their backyard and create a micro-event for themselves. Obviously, the aspect of prevention and respect for the sanity guidelines are put forward. The Festival is not simply transferring to digital but wants to  preserve the human connection through this virtual experience.

Photo : Francis Gagnon – Festif

Being in solution mode has always been a daily task in our field. It is satisfying to see major events reinvent themselves and seek to bounce back from this crisis. However, adapting to a virus and guidelines that change so quickly remains a major challenge, as our friends at the Festif can confirm.

It can be a success beyond expectations just like sporting challenges. It is highly likely that the majority of the current methods will return to their previous format once we win this impromptu battle but discovery and innovation are more important than ever. You have to be on the lookout for new kinds of experiences that will emerge from this period because revolutionary ideas are often born in the darkest periods.

How about creating a new experience together ? Nothing better than a good discussion.