The “Next Normal” – What is next for the experiential industry?

Andy - May 2020

As the UK experiential industry eagerly awaits Boris Johnson’s announcement this weekend of what the “next normal” will look like; Andy Dixon, CEO of Scene2 – an award winning, event service agency for brands, agencies, charities, film & theatre production, asks how can event production houses, like Scene2, adapt and operate following a global pandemic that has changed the world forever? The live events industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Who in February imagined a 2020 without Glastonbury and the Olympic Games? The future for live events is still uncertain, but the duties that the industry will have to fulfil are becoming clear.  Post-lockdown the biggest challenge for any brand planning a live event is their primary duty to avoid exposing visitors to potentially high-risk situations. In the “Next Normal”, we will not experience branded events in crowded spaces, watch sports fixtures at mass gatherings or queue for hours at festivals.  All this is “off-limits” for the foreseeable future. However, humans are naturally social creatures who inherently crave interaction but as proven by the way the music industry has adapted, experiences can still be delivered, but in more intimate, yet socially distance-controlled ways.  Immersive journeys can happen but under a different set of circumstances and using the technology at hand, to deliver the experience. 5G currently allows for the implementation of VR and AR within online streaming experiences but the future of experiential should see technology and theatre combine for its next-normal evolution.  The production of intimate storytelling sets for time-controlled, socially responsible, brand-led, experiences sees a mix which will make experiences more controlled, intimate and personal whilst complying with essential social distancing requirements. This does not mean anything has to be lost, provided the experience itself is properly thought through, carefully managed and truly immersive to start with. A new precedent for experiential will be set.  The need to strike a balance between adapting to our “Next Normal” and keeping experiential relevant is what the audience needs.  Brands will need to think about every element of the experience. This should include ensuring the audience is constantly engaged, both inside & outside their home. This “re-set” period for the events industry has allowed experiential marketers and producers the chance to revamp and re-address its “new” audience, who are different today to who they were 12 weeks ago. We don’t believe this is the end of experiential marketing – but rather it’s the start of the “Next Normal” chapter and we are committed to be ready for it!

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