It’s no secret that the entertainment and event industries have drastically been impacted by COVID-19. As we’ve watched both areas (along with the entire population) pivot over the past few months, one truth has remained abundant: people need to feel connected – and that comes in many outlets. In an era where people are now experiencing major screen fatigue, how can brands approach their virtual and hybrid meetings and events to be equally as refreshing as their face-to-face counterparts? Yep, you guessed it: entertainment.
Just because your event has turned virtual doesn’t mean that you need to forgo entertainment, or that it will be less interactive for your attendees. In fact, “The chance to customize entertainment for meetings and events right now is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. In the virtual realm, we’re seeing celebrities engage with attendees in an authentic and unique way we’re not accustomed to,” says Kevin Underwood, Senior Vice President and Entertainment Buyer at LEO Events.
Any type of event, conference, or meeting can benefit from virtual entertainment. Corporate gatherings have multiple purposes, including communicating to varied audiences and recognizing employee achievements. The entertainment industry is working to keep these gatherings alive, no matter the current circumstance. Underwood explains, “After about an hour – especially in a digital environment – audiences tire and need a break from listening to internal speakers and executives. You need that moment to revive the meeting – cleanse the palate so to speak.” A musical performance or surprise celebrity speaker are great options, but there are many factors to consider when determining the best entertainment solution. While of-the-now talent will certainly generate buzz, it’s vital the artist, comedian, or speaker is connected to the story you want to tell. A performance that’s in tune with your brand leaves an impression and generates impact for attendees.
That being said, virtual entertainment doesn’t necessarily mean a musician or actor – guest speakers can make or break a general session. A lineup should not feel like it’s been thrown together at random – it should have a cohesiveness to it that tells a story. Ask yourself, why are these particular speakers here and how do their talks relate to your internal presenters? And most importantly, how do their talks relate to your brand’s messaging and theme? The right speaker will resonate with your audience in a way that leaves them wanting more.
And the best part of virtual entertainment? It’s budget friendly. Like you and me, entertainers are sitting at home and looking for creative outlets to produce some form of an income for their furloughed crew and band members. Artists of all genres and price points are now performing virtually and are willing to work to create a virtual set with unprecedented customization. Artists that have historically garnered seven figures are performing for a fraction of their normal fee.
Brands can even look to creating VIP packages in this virtual setting that would result in a personal, memorable experience. We’re seeing celebrities utilize Looped Live to connect with fans, and this is easily adaptable for attendees. Meet and Greet moments all of a sudden have turned into quick chats or Q&As versus a photo-op.
In addition to pure virtual performances, hybrid events are approaching the scene. This entails having an artist perform for a smaller socially distanced audience while the event is live broadcasted through a secure platform for the larger audience who could not be present at the event.
“The benefit of a brand utilizing an agency partner to book their entertainment, regardless of if it’s a speaker or artist, is that no detail is left untouched,” says Underwood. Agency partners have existing relationships, know the live event playing field, and possess the expertise to ultimately deliver the virtual entertainment solution a client needs.
Live entertainment during corporate meetings has always been a way for brands to resonate with their audiences and heighten the overall strategy and message – and that hasn’t changed. If live is the ultimate connector, digital is the transmitter right now. Brands must virtually acclimate to keep up with consumer demand to produce engaging, impactful moments for their audiences.
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