21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

The Future of Live Events and Venues

Aug 26, 2020 Event News

Last week our sister event, Integrate - the leading AV and tech event in Australia, hosted their first Virtual Speaker Series where they discussed the future of AV in our changing world and "The Future of Live Events and Venues".

The very human need for social connection and interactivity is at the core of our love for live events, gigs and even trade exhibitions. The Integrate Virtual Speaker Series discussed when this is taken away from us what can we do to simulate connectivity and what are the priorities for recovery? Here are the 5 takeaways from the discussion below!

1. The importance of live events in economic revival

The events industry brings in billions of economic dollars in Australia every year, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. With Australia (and the rest of the world) in economic pain as a result of the global pandemic, Steve Smith, General Manager at DG Global, stated that “we (live events industry) can lead and be an important part of economic revival”. Even at a smaller scale and accommodating to strict social distancing requirements, controlled and initiate events will be key in restarting the industry and Australian economy, putting key stakeholders back into work.

“Business breakfasts, dinners, controlled graduations etc” instead of larger scale exhibitions and events, were highlighted as potential COVIDSafe solutions that could kick-start the industry again – “Scalability is important in recovery” – Steve Smith.

2. Will we ever attend a live event again? The future of hybrid events

Pivoting towards virtual solutions has been the obvious answer for the events industry to adapt to during COVID-19 and while “virtual is great” and important “in getting a message out there, nothing replaces a handshake and a hug”, said Steve. “People are now appreciating and really missing live events” said Cr Jess Scully, Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, showing that there is still a want and need for live events.

Soren Norgaard, Integrate Expo Product Manager, stated that hybrid events are very much going to become a reality for the next few years and potentially beyond. “Virtual events still keep us all connected” said Soren, and thanks to modern tech events are now able to “reach more people than before”, supported Steve. The Panel discussed that the combination of both virtual and face-to-face events may actually bolster the events industry and its offering.

3. Virtual Speed Dating & VR handshakes?

When asked what the opportunities are in the current climate, Soren stated that “we (the events industry) can’t pass up an opportunity right now” and that this time of quiet has actually “opened creative doors” for the industry. As a whole the event sector is flexible and has a “can do” attitude, so when the topic of virtual zoom speed dating with exhibitors and the opportunity of VR was brought up, the answer was simply “never say never”.

Soren reflected that at Integrate 2019 they recorded a few exhibition booths in VR, allowing for virtual tours, product interaction and even business card exchange with the booth holders. He expressed that this may be a very realistic approach to future exhibitions, an exciting opportunity for the AV and tech industry in particular.

4. In This Together

There is no denying that the events industry is hurting from the impacts of COVID-19. Large scale gatherings were cancelled on the spot, leaving the industry hanging in limbo unsure of next steps or the future stability of the sector. However, despite the hardship the general industry attitude remains positive.

  • Steve – “This industry can do anything, we are flexible and ready to go”, “jobs will return and we will get back to work”. He also added that during this time of hardship it’s important to “keep talking, support each other – we are in the same boat.”
  • Jess – “This is a resilient industry, we always find a way and we are all in this together. We can find new and inventive ways to bring people together.”
  • Soren – “This time has opened a lot of creativity and new doors of connectivity”, “It’s going to be tough, but the opportunities are there and we have to embrace everything that is available in market.”

5. Grant opportunities for the events industry

The support of the government is an important factor in the re-build of the industry, Cr Jess Scully shared current grant opportunities that could make all the difference in getting event stakeholders off the ground again.

  • Business Support Grants
    Live music and performance: matched grant up to $20,000
    Night-time diversification: matched grant up to $10,000
  • Festivals and Events Sponsorship’s
    Up to $30,000 for new village and community festivals
  • Matching grants (including a new CBD and Haymarket activation grant)
    Up to $10,000

Grant applications close 5pm on Monday August 31. Jess encouraged anyone in the industry needing advice is to contact the City Concierge at 02 9265 9333 or [email protected]

Steve Smith, DG Global
Soren Norgaard, Integrate & Security Events
Cr Jess Scully, City of Sydney

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