Dressing Up the Drive-In: Solutions for Live Gatherings

Lifestyle & Culture

We’ve heard that all good things make a comeback, and that’s exactly what is happening with the drive-in concept to safely bring back in-person gatherings. This classic throwback in time may be exactly what is needed for planners to get back to live events – and many are starting to take notice of this. The NFL’s Miami Dolphins recently announced that it would turn its currently empty stadium into a drive-in that can accommodate up to 230 cars for events like graduations, concerts, and of course, movies

“Customized drive-in events carry a wide array of engaging possibilities with the built-in comfort of physical distancing,” says April Harbour, LEO’s Director of Public Events and Festivals. Harbour also noted that event possibilities aren’t strictly confined to current drive-in structures. Parking lots and sports stadiums can easily be converted into event-appropriate arenas, hence the Miami Dolphins.

Start Your Engines

There is no better time than now to creatively think outside-of-the-box. With attendees tuning into a low-wattage FM radio channel, the drive-in atmosphere possesses the power to provide that missing energy that appears to be lacking in the virtual environment. As guests are safely distanced, they can very much feel a sense of togetherness (not to mention that it’s an automatic step up from being glued to a laptop screen).

As lockdown restrictions vary from state to state and county to county, planners can even convert the drive-in solution to a hybrid model if necessary. By virtually streaming the event, the at-home attendees can experience the same, immersive event as the in-person guests (if executed properly).

Lights, Camera, Action

While live events may still be on hold for some groups, they will need modifications and articulate planning to accommodate distancing precautions when they return. For some cities not able to participate in a drive-in event just yet, virtual events are still the main method to conduct meetings – and cinematic themes are still very much at play in this realm. “Virtual meetings should be thought of as broadcast television – a narrative is critical, and visual storytelling with seamless execution must be top priority,” says Harbour.

This could be why employees feel exhausted by a few Zoom calls or WebEx meetings, yet it is rare to hear people complaining about watching television for hours on end. You see, scripted narratives and sound and lighting bring viewers visual variety to keep up with attention spans.

Virtual events will continue for the foreseeable future, and planners must adapt to bringing higher engagement to whichever platform being utilized. Yes, guest speakers, changing camera angles, and scripting may require the overall planning of a televised event, but this is exactly what is needed for a virtual event to truly resonate with the audience.

The truth is, while the ultimate driver for events may be digital right now, people still crave connection – and live events are too powerful of a medium to just evaporate. The drive-in solution sets the meetings industry up for a great starting point to the return of in-person gatherings. And for those that aren’t able to gather in the form of the drive-in quite yet, virtual meetings can be equally as engaging if accurately broadcasted.