They are exhilarating. They raise our spirits. They bring us together. But the future of in-person concerts, festivals and live events is currently uncertain. Although 75 percent of those Americans who actually attended a live event since the onset of the pandemic in March felt “safe” or “very safe” at said event, nearly nine-in-ten American travelers report they have not purchased any tickets for an upcoming live event. Moving forward, how can the event production world deliver the thrill and the magic, while keeping us socially distant and safe? Destination Analysts Senior Research Director, Myha Gallagher, interviewed three major event producers who shared what they foresee to be the future of live events for the short and long term. Read below for our key takeaways and watch the full discussion here:
Our Key Takeaways:
Promoters avoid pushing the envelope, especially as cases rise in some states where a live event was held. Notes Chad, “Because cases keep going up in those states, it’s more of a dire warning on why it is important to be smart and safe about opening.” For those determined or obligated to hold an event during the pandemic, their large network of promoters reinforces the idea to do so under the strictest guidelines possible.
There are challenges filling venues even when going above and beyond safety requirements. As Becca explains, “It is difficult to get artists who feel comfortable coming onto the forum and it is difficult to find consumers who are interested in putting themselves at risk. Even when going every extra mile to make sure that it is incredibly safe.”
Enforcing mandates & protocols requires a hearty amount of vigilance and effort. Not wearing a face mask at all times, not wanting to stay seated and dancing too close at a concert is now an offense which prompts immediate removal. Promoters and venues have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to endangering lives, thus making these new and extra monitors on attendees behaviors a lot of work. Make their job easier by following the rules required of you.
Drive-in shows offer communities a safe and enjoyable experience. They also provide a great opportunity for artists to perform on stage, showcase their music/art and interact with the audience. However, revenue is derived from sponsorship instead of ticket sales and profit margins are thin. Nevertheless, Dawson feels that,
“It’s great to be able to offer the community something to do.”
On-site testing is currently too costly to be a real solution. When asked about the potential impact of rapid on-site testing for entry as a solution for getting live events back sooner, these three shared that the cost per test is still far too high for consumers’ tolerance.
There may be a limit to demand for pre-recorded/ virtual events. The entertainment industry is considering various ways to provide the consumer with a variety of virtual entertainment experiences. However, Dawson thinks that, “There’s so much effort being put into creating the illusion of connection, which is what people go to events for. And I think that all the gimmicks of virtual events are going to start to wane as people realize ‘I really just want to be around another human.'”
Lingering concerns about event-goers and artists contracting the virus, as well as collective pressure not to promote in-person events has coordinators pushing back in regards to holding live events. While promoters were initially expecting events to pick up in the spring of 2021, they are now realizing that in-person live events, especially large-scale events, might not resume until 2022.
The love for live events is enduring. Despite 2022 looking more like their reality on the return, Dawson is optimistic pointing out that, “We are getting creative. There are a lot of interesting ideas that are sort of percolating in the live event production world.” Chad adds that they plan on holding the events that have been getting pushed along by the pandemic, “Company-wide we have seen that 86 percent of ticket buyers are not seeking refunds. They want to hold on to their tickets to go to these future events. That is something we feel really hopeful about.” Sharing their optimism for a 2022 revival is Becca, “Once everybody starts to do it again, it’ll be a snowball effect and then the industry will be booming.”
Many thanks to Dawson, Becca and Chad for the great conversation. We hope to be dancing and singing along at one of their events soon.