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Avantgarde London expects “balancing out” of online and live events in 2021

Brand experience agency Avantgarde London has said it expects to see a “balancing out” of online and live and hybrid events later in 2021.

Stuart Bradbury (pictured), the agency’s managing director, said that currently, 70% of client events will take place online, but this is likely to change after prime minister Boris Johnson, 22 Febraury, announced restrictions on live events could be lifted on 21 June, subject to data.

“We have been receiving briefs for both virtual and hybrid events this year. There are plans for a number of our clients to look at live events later this year, but nothing concrete yet,” Bradbury told Conference News.

“The brand experience and live event sector has dramatically evolved over the last 12 months, leading to a number of new, exciting and positive opportunities for brands and our sector as a whole,” he added.

“There are complexities in this new virtual [online] and hybrid space, and crafting a valuable experience requires insights and knowledge of how to connect with your audiences in different ways. I believe our industry has yet again demonstrated the importance of brand experience in reaching and engaging an audience and I am continuing to feel very positive about the future.

According to Bradbury, all sectors are keen to return to live events, but from what he has seen at Avantgarde, the technology and automotive sectors are planning different scenarios for what he described as a “big return to live and hybrid experiences”.

Client reassurance on the return to live

The unveiling of the roadmap out of lockdown has, attentively at least allowed corporate event organisers to move ahead with their plans to live experiences later in 2021. Bradbury welcomed the announcement by the prime minister and said it has given clients reassurance.

“Following the Government announcement last night [22 February] and their step-by-step plan to reduce restrictions by June, this will have given clients some reassurance for committing to live events later this year. Finally, we see a light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel for our sector,” he said.

“In the last 12 months as restrictions have been enforced and then relaxed and then enforced again, it has been very difficult for clients to commit to the planning of live events without the security and flexibility of contracts and insurance.”

Testing

Bradbury added that he thinks testing will become an important component in getting events happening once more. “Since late last year, our industry was advocating testing before entering a live event. And now with the latest government announcements, we can’t see why testing within 24 hours of a live event coupled with those who have received a vaccine, cannot create a safe environment,” he said.

“Ideally the Government needs to put this process in place now, as it takes time to enforce.”