Event industry cannot go back to old strategies even after the pandemic: Megha H Desai

Megha H Desai, Founder, TABHRASA, talks about the Covid-19 impact on the experiential industry and the road ahead

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 7, 2020 3:00 PM
Megha H Desai

The events and experiential industry is fast evolving to adjust to a new normal. It is now trying to diversify and develop new offerings to stay relevant.

In an interview with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Megha H Desai, Founder, TABHRASA spoke about the Covid-19 impact on the events and experiential industry and why the event industry should not go back to its old ways.

Excerpts:

What are some of the measures adopted by the Live event industry to engage with its consumers during this pandemic phase?

This pandemic has made a swift incision at the heart of the live event business. The figures pouring in from different sources about current losses are estimated at around 3,000 crores in just two weeks. This is in India alone. I am not in a position to speak on behalf of the entire industry, although I do know that many heads of businesses are coming together to brainstorm on the way forward. The Events industry has always had agility in its structure. The key now will be to redefine the pure offline experience into a ‘digital/ virtual’ experience almost entirely in its design. When time is right, the offline component can be gradually introduced into the design of the experiences. One thing is certain, the industry cannot go back to old strategies even after the pandemic is over. It cannot be just a LIVE on-ground experience anymore. It will have to be a Mixed Reality Experience.

Will the virtual events become more mainstream with this pandemic around?

Absolutely. The consumer journey now is different – there is no touch and feel involved. So going virtual, using technology and design thinking, is the need of the hour. We have already seen many platforms including venues like NCPA who have taken the staged experiences and brought them home. Ticket booking platforms have widened their canvas to include online fitness classes and dance classes. Two things that will need to be evaluated quickly:
a) What kind of experiences are consumers seeking right now at their homes?
b) How does the event industry design an experience within this environment? We have to move ahead from just another ‘Going Live on a social media platform’

How will the road to recovery be for the experiential players?

It is certainly going to be a very challenging process. Whether it's the experiential industry or retail, hospitality, travel, etc - the process to come back to the 'new normal' will be challenging. And I say the new normal because in my estimation, all the industries that are severely impacted will need to create new ideas, new systems and innovations to adapt to the coming times. Live events wont disappear of course. But we will see a new product mix and that could take a good few months, even a year.

How are experiential agencies trying to stay relevant during these times?

I am sure all the agency heads are right now investing their time and effort in building new strategies. The relevance of an experiential company in my mind, is the experience they create and hence, this sudden pandemic wasn't something the industry was prepared for. I know a few companies who already had in-house digital/ content/ arms, now actively working on developing their new offering. Others are focusing on knowledge-sharing via webinars, live chats, etc.

The experiential industry has always comprised magicians who stay backstage. That will continue - only their magic tricks will now have even more magic in it with a newer media mix thrown in.

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