I enjoyed reading Post Corona, from crisis to opportunity from Scott Galloway, and while reading the book, I can’t avoid thinking about some potential lessons learned and opportunities that the live events industry could and should capitalize from this difficult experience. Do you remember the good old days for live events (before February 2020) and how crazy it is to compare our current reality one year later? Well, the live events industry has basically been on hold for the last year, and we are still struggling to imagine a realistic date where we could go back to concerts, sports, or business events in a “normal way.” Trillions of dollars and millions of jobs lost later, the live events and other relevant industries like travel and hospitality are struggling to survive.
But, smart entrepreneurs and corporations in these industries are taking advantage of this crisis to reinvent their business and, in some way, reinvent their industries in parallel. During the last 12 months, we saw transformational changes affecting and changing (probably forever) massive industries like retail with e-commerce, real estate with remote work, medicine with telemedicine, and education with remote learning, among others. And, of course, live events are part of this list. For good or bad? Time will tell. Let’s elaborate a bit.
We just announced the publication of the book Reinventing Live that I co-wrote with my friend Denzil Rankine (btw, we were surprised by initial sales, and it’s currently sold out on Amazon US, but new copies are arriving soon and available in other online book stores). We spent six months during “Covid season” talking with smart event organizers, corporations, tech founders, and investors and collecting their views about the live events industry’s future. And, of course, we share our own beliefs and thoughts as part of this industry trying to summarize some potential opportunities to capitalize on during this unique moment in history. If there is one lesson learned (at least for me) from writing this book during this crazy time is that the live events industry is (finally) accelerating change and engaging tech like never before. Is this change and acceleration nice and easy? Absolutely not! Unfortunately, this crisis will eliminate thousands of companies and millions of jobs globally in these industries, but will not eliminate these industries.
Some amazing stats and data from the Scott Galloway book like, in just 8 weeks online retail doubled, $2 Trillion market value increased 9 major tech companies by the middle of 2020, and 21% value on all companies in the US. In 2013, we had 39 unicorn companies. Today, there are +400 unicorn companies and 1 of 10 were created in 2020!
Higher ed? 1400% increase in tuition in the last 4 decades and campuses are still full and classes look pretty much the same. But what about the future? Will higher ed change during the next 4 decades? Absolutely! Is there potential parallelism with the Conferences industry? I think so. Are you going to keep paying $2,000 and invest four days of your life going to Vegas for a conference or trade show or expect a different sort of ROI for your time and money?
As 2020 has shown, predicting the future is not easy.
What is the disruptability index for the live events industry? I was saying that before Covid, it was high. Now I’m saying that it is even higher. Way higher! And this should be a great opportunity for many smart people.
Bad news? Not necessarily. My optimistic entrepreneurial brain says that this will allow a new generation of talented people to create new business models and live events experiences. But the pragmatic part of the brain also says that many companies and people will have a really hard couple of years ahead.
During a crisis, it’s usually the right time to think big, and people (your employees, customers, partners, etc.) will remember how you behave during a crisis. And this is definitively probably the more significant crisis that the live events industry ever experienced on a global basis.
There is much positive news that should encourage event owners, employees, and investors to be excited. During the last year, virtual events created a massive global audience that learned the way to interact online like never before. Millions of virtual events are happening daily and each participant, sponsor, and organizer of those events are learning fast different ways to make their experience better and more productive. Event tech engagement and adoption are accelerating like never before and massive funding rounds like Bizzabo or Hopin invite brilliant tech founders and investors to pay attention to the live events tech category. A bigger global virtual events audience will be curious and interested to participate in hybrid events once live events are back. Many smart event organizers will find ways to monetize that opportunity. Every single stakeholder in the live events industry (visitors to events, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, venues, organizers, etc.) could capitalize on this opportunity if they are open to rethink the way that they interact with live events.
Post corona live events could and should be better than ever. As Winston Churchill famously said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Let’s take advantage of this unique situation to reinvent the live events industry. It’s a real opportunity.